Just four days after Minkah Fitzpatrick made it clear he wanted no part in the Dolphins’ soul-crushing tank job, Miami satisfied his wishes and sent him to the much-less-sunnier city of Pittsburgh. All it cost from the Steelers to get the defensive talent was the hefty price of a first-round pick in this upcoming draft.
There is something a little funny about the fact that Fitzpatrick will just be shifting from one 0-2 team to another, but the preseason goals that each franchise had could not make them any more different from one another. The Steelers started the year with aspirations of winning their division, and perhaps even making a surprise deep playoff push, while the Dolphins’ sole purpose of existence this year is to draft Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and hope he can save the franchise. Under expected circumstances, Fitzpatrick would push a respectable secondary core to the next level with his ability to haunt quarterbacks from the slot, and get Pittsburgh back on track with its plans to contend for the AFC North.
Of course, this is where reality comes in to take a fat dump on how this move will likely work out for the Steelers. While Fitzpatrick will bring much needed reprieve to a Pittsburgh defense that currently sits 28th on Football Outsiders’ pass defense rankings—the same ranking as their overall defensive DVOA—the acquisition likely won’t be enough to fix a whole lot given that the team has looked pretty bad through two games, and will now have to rely on backup Mason Rudolph to carry a lackluster offense for the remainder of the season with Big Ben out. The Steelers have not only shown so far that there’s almost no reason to believe they’ll win the division, but also that there’s little reason to believe they’ll even crack .500 this season.
In other words, the question for Mike Tomlin’s team after this trade is no longer about whether Fitzpatrick will fit into this defensive scheme, but rather whether Pittsburgh ultimately gave up a top-10 or top-5 pick to get him to the Steel City.
Update (11:11 p.m. ET): Ian Rapoport adds a couple extra pick-swapping details about the trade.