As the contract standoff between the Cincinnati Bengals and star safety Jessie Bates III continues, another high-caliber safety has gotten his long term deal. Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was in the same draft class as Bates, agreed to terms with a record contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday.
Steelers and All-Pro S Minkah Fitzpatrick reached agreement on a massive four-year contract extension worth over $18.4 million per year, with $36M gtd at signing, per source. The deal, negotiated and confirmed by @WME_Sports, makes Fitzpatrick the highest paid S in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/Rnb0jJWGoM— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 15, 2022
Bates has been on record saying he doesn’t have to be the highest-paid safety in the league to sign a long-term deal, but the Fitzpatrick deal raises the market regardless. There haven’t been a lot of reports of offers the Bengals have made, or the type of contract Bates is looking for. Being the highest-paid safety in the league may not be his concern, but in a time where guarantees in contracts keep rising, perhaps he wants the highest guarantee amount?
It is worth noting that both Bates and Fitzpatrick share the same agent, David Mulugheta. Mulugheta is on quite the hot streak this off-season. After securing the largest contract in NFL history for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson in the middle of one of the biggest controversies the NFL has ever seen, Mulugheta has secured the largest contract for a safety in league history. Also working in his favor is representing the two best safeties on deck for long term extensions in Bates and Derwin James.
The average annual value of Fitzpatrick’s deal could now become the starting point of negotiations, as that seems to be the case when the highest-paid player at any position gets a new deal.
With a month to the day left for the Bengals and Bates to reach a deal, the safety world is now a different one than it was yesterday.