The Pittsburgh Steelers square off against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football this week, and the team’s trip to Miami will serve as a homecoming for a couple members of the team. Former Dolphins HC Brian Flores makes his return to Miami after being fired this past offseason and has since sued the league after claiming that he was wrongfully fired for not following owner Stephen Ross’ instruction of purposefully tanking as well as actively recruit a star quarterback to the team. He also named the Broncos, Giants, and the NFL as a whole, alleging that they only interviewed him this offseason to comply with the league’s mandated policy to interview one minority candidate for an open head coaching position.
While Flores will be making the trip back to Miami, so will former Dolphins S Minkah Fitzpatrick who was drafted by the team 11th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. After just one season with the team, Fitzpatrick requested a trade, stating he didn’t like the way he was being used by Flores and the rest of the coaching staff. This prompted the Steelers to jump at the opportunity to acquire a player of Fitzpatrick’s caliber, trading a first-round pick plus to bring him to Pittsburgh.
In preparation for this week’s game in Miami, Fitzpatrick was asked about the trade and how he feels like it has benefitted him from a career aspect being now in Pittsburgh.
“I think obviously it was a big shift going from one team to another after being drafted in the first round,” Fitzpatrick said to the media Wednesday in the locker room on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “It’s like come in and get traded the following year. I had to make decisions a lot then to really try and turn things around.”
While Fitzpatrick has stated back this summer that things have smoothed over between he and Flores, back then the two were at a difference of opinion regarding his skill set as Flores wanted him to play all over the defensive formation, putting him in positions where he didn’t feel comfortable to excel and succeed on the football field. When Fitzpatrick got traded to Pittsburgh, the Steelers unlocked his star abilities as a deep safety that excelled on the backend of coverage, allowing him to roam and make plays on the football.
This usage has led to Fitzpatrick being named a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time first team All-Pro in 2019 and 2020 has he has recorded 14 INTs, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and four defensive TDs since joining the Steelers back in 2019. He led the team in tackles last season and has made countless plays to alter the outcomes of games like the blocked extra point Week 1 against the Bengals to send the game into overtime. Fitzpatrick signed a four-year, $73.6 million extension with the Steelers this offseason, keeping him as a pivotal member of the defense in Pittsburgh for years to come.
While the trade may have been difficult for Fitzpatrick back then being just in his second season, it has undoubtedly worked out in his favor, earning him a big paise raise as one of the best safeties in the game today. Now, he will get an opportunity to go back where it all started and display the player he has become down in South Beach in primetime.