One year ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a blockbuster trade that brought their defense back to life.
The Steelers defense played terribly in early 2019. They allowed 640 passing yards and surrendered 61 points to the opposition in the first two weeks. While Devin Bush and Mark Barron recovered two fumbles, the turnover ratio was nothing compared to what was coming.
Enter: Minkah Fitzpatrick.
One year ago, in an un-Steeler like move, Pittsburgh made a bold statement in the form of a trade with the Miami Dolphins. They sent a 2020 first and fifth-round to Miami in exchange for Fitzpatrick and a fourth-rounder (guard Kevin Dotson).
As a result of the blockbuster trade, the Steelers still have a sixth-rounder in 2021, and the Dolphins a seventh.
TRADE: Steelers are trading a 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, league sources tell ESPN.
Early on, there were questions about whether Pittsburgh gave up too much. They were 0-2 when they acquired Fitzpatrick and didn’t get their first win until Week 4. Initially, it appeared the Steelers might be parting with a high first-round draft pick. As it turned out at the season’s end, it was No. 18.
In hindsight, Pittsburgh easily won that trade — especially considering all the big names traded for first-rounders this summer.
Upon Fitzpatrick’s arrival, the defense came to life. Despite having just landed in Pittsburgh days earlier, he made immediate contributions in the Steelers Week 3 matchup versus the undefeated San Fransisco 49ers. Minkah picked off Jimmy Garoppolo, forced a fumble, and notched four tackles.
By the end of the season, Fitzpatrick ranked fourth in the league with five interceptions (two for touchdowns) and third with 130 interception return yards. Four of those interceptions came at Heinz Field. He logged 43 tackles and two forced fumbles. Of Minkah’s three fumble recoveries, two were taken a total of 79 yards, and one went for a score.
The All-Pro joined T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward as Steelers defensive reps in the 2020 Pro Bowl.