With the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Since being selected, he has been a three-time First-Team All-Pro selection, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and he led the league in interceptions last season. Fitzpatrick has been a star since joining the NFL and he is continuing to ascend.
The only problem is, he is doing it for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After appearing in 16 games with 11 starts as a rookie for Miami, Fitzpatrick appeared set to be the next Dolphins’ defensive star. He was a jack-of-all-trades type of player, able to work deep as a free safety, in the box as a strong safety, out wide as a cornerback, or even as a coverage linebacker. Two games into the 2019 season, Miami sent Fitzpatrick to the Steelers and the safety has continued to fulfill the potential that had the Dolphins select him 11th overall.
Dave Schofield from Behind the Steel Curtain recently took a look back at the trade of Fitzpatrick, and clearly the Steelers came out ahead in the move. We will take a look at some of his thoughts on the trade, as well as review it from the Dolphins perspective.
The Trade Details
2020 4th-round pick
2021 7th-round pick
2020 1st-round pick
2020 5th-round pick
2021 6th-round pick
Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. 2020 1st-round pick (18th - Austin Jackson, OT)
Schofield broke down his analysis by comparing each of the picks traded, including Fitzpatrick against the first-round pick sent to Miami. Excerpts from his analysis of this comparison are:
Since joining the Steelers, Minkah Fitzpatrick has been selected as an All-Pro in three of his four seasons. Additionally, the Steelers have locked up Fitzpatrick through the 2026 NFL season...
In his rookie season, Jackson appeared in 13 games with 12 starts but missed part of the season after suffering a foot injury in Week 4 and was placed on the Reserve/Injured List (IR). In 2021, Jackson started 16 of 17 games. In 2022, Jackson unfortunately suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 where we was placed on IR. After returning and appearing in one more game, Jackson went back on IR to finish the season. At this time, it is not expected for the Dolphins to pick up Jackson’s fifth-year option.
Jackson has potential and could be a solid offensive lineman for the Dolphins for a long time. He is a right tackle, but with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, that is the blidside for the Dolphins’ offense, which means Miami may have added the key piece to their offensive line with the pick. That all said, Jackson is still a “potential” player while Fitzpatrick is an elite player in his prime. Clearly the Steelers are ahead on the trade here.
2020 4th-round pick (135th - Kevin Dotson, G) vs. 2020 5th-round pick (154th - Jason Strowbridge, DE)
About these two picks, Schofield wrote:
The Steelers selected Kevin Dotson who has starting 30 games for the Steelers in three seasons. Most importantly, Dotson started every game and played every snap of 2022 at left guard.
Strawbridge played in eight games for the Dolphins in 2020 where he saw 55 defensive snaps along with 12 snaps on special teams and three total tackles. Strawbridge did not make the Dolphin 53-man roster in 2021 but was originally signed to the practice squad. Unfortunately, Strawbridge was released before Week 1 of the 2021 season and has not landed on an NFL roster since.
Clearly, the Steelers maintain their lead here. Dotson is a starter for the Steelers, while Strowbridge had a cup of coffee before his NFL career came to an apparent end.
2021 7th-round pick (245th - Tre Norwood, S) vs. 2021 6th-round pick (Traded to Kansas City Chiefs)
The Steelers selected safety Tre Norwood who, in two seasons, has appeared in 32 games with six starts. Norwood has 61 tackles and an interception in his career, although he missed the final two games of the 2022 season due to injury.
The Miami Dolphins ultimately traded the Steelers sixth-round draft pick. The Dolphins traded the selection to the Kansas City Chiefs who then also traded the pick to the New York Jets...As for how things worked out for the Miami Dolphins with the additional trade, they received running back DeAndre Washington, who only appeared in three games in 2021 before being released, and received a seventh-round draft pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. That draft pick, along with former 2015 first-round draft pick of the New York Giants Ereck Flowers, was sent to the Washington Football Team. In return, the Dolphins received a higher seventh-round draft pick where they selected running back Gerrid Doaks who did not make the 53-man roster and has yet to appear in an NFL game.
The Steelers have a player who is making appearances and participating. The Dolphins used the pick to make a couple of moves, but ended up with Doaks who, worked as a practice squad running back for Miami in 2021, then was a practice squad player for the Houston Texans for much of 2022. He is signed to a futures contract with Houston for next year.
BTSC Community Member Comments
Several community members from Behind the Steel Curtain also commented on the trade:
The pick for player equation for this trade is clearly a home run, there’s no way that can be debated. The only doubt I had at the time was that stacking 2 1st rounders from 2018 would mess up the contract/cap cycle and lead to the Steelers losing a quality player when the cap space to keep them came a year too late. Since the players in question were Edmunds, Bush and Claypool it’s turned out about as well as possible.
Disagree with all of you as well as the author.
The Steelers were sucking bad that season with Ben out and relying on the tag-team of Mason and Duck at QB.
Without Fitz, we probably would have lost more games, which in turn would have pushed us higher in the draft order.
I personally would have loved to have the Steelers aggressively trade up to take Justin Herbert.
By trading for Fitz, Colbert was playing checkers rather than playing chess.
This Island Earth
Lots of people here were complaining about giving up a 1st. Many of those same people would probably have been screaming for a DB to be taken had we retained the pick. You can’t really do better than trading a 1st for a future HOFer who is early in his career.
I didn’t think that any discussion beyond “we got a Hall Of Fame caliber safety” was necessary but I guess we, somehow, did even better when you break it down further.
Take a bow Mr. Colbert. And thank you.
Dude I actually got scared and my heartbeat literally (not exaggrated metaphorical use of the word) changed for a few beats, because I thought for a moment that we traded away Minkah and all I thought was NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO..................................................................oh nevermind, it’s about the trade that brought him here.”
Nogle’s Final Thoughts
I feel like the comments from BTSC basically covers how this trade worked out for the Dolphins. The Steelers crushed it with this move. The Dolphins put themselves in a position to have to trade Fitzpatrick as the relationship between the player and the team, and specifically then-head coach Brian Flores, had reportedly deteriorated. Fitzpatrick did not want to be used as the Dolphins were planning to use him, and he had made his displeasure known. Flores did not seem to like players who had strong personalities when he arrive in Miami, and Fitzpatrick became expendable for some reason.
As Schofield wrote at the end of the article, from the Steelers’ side of this deal, “That’s how it’s done.”
The Dolphins have had amazing trades - especially when you look at the Flores-era trade of Laremy Tunsil that is still paying dividends to the team - but this one was clearly a loss for Miami.