Taking a look at the Dolphins trade of Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers

With the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Since he was selected, he has been a three-time first-team All-Pro selection, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and led the league in interceptions last season. Fitzpatrick has been a star since he joined the NFL and continues to rise.

The only problem is that he’s doing it for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After appearing in 16 games with 11 starts as a rookie for Miami, Fitzpatrick looked poised to be the Dolphins’ next defensive star. He was a know-it-all type of player, able to work deep as a free safety, in the box as a strong safety, wide at 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 develop the potential that led to the Dolphins drafting him 11th overall.

Behind the Steel Curtain’s Dave Schofield recently took a look at the Fitzpatrick trade, and clearly the Steelers came out ahead on the move. We’ll take a look at some of his thoughts on the trade, as well as review it from the Dolphins’ perspective.

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The Steelers received:

minkah fitzpatrick
2020 fourth-round pick
2021 seventh round pick

The dolphins received:

2020 First Round Pick
2020 Fifth Round Pick
2021 sixth-round pick

Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. 2020 first-round pick (18 – Austin Jackson, OT)

Schofield broke down his analysis by comparing each of the traded picks, including Fitzpatrick, to 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 her four seasons. Also, the Steelers secured 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, in which we were placed on IR. After returning and appearing in one more game, Jackson returned to IR to finish out the season. At this time, the Dolphins are not expected to take Jackson’s fifth-year option.

Jackson has potential and could be a solid offensive lineman for the Dolphins for a long time. He’s a right tackle, but with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, that’s the blindside for the Dolphins’ offense, meaning Miami may have added the key piece to their offensive line with the pick. All of that said, Jackson is still a “potential” player, while Fitzpatrick is an elite player in his prime. Clearly, the Steelers are ahead in the trade here.

2020 fourth-round pick (135: Kevin Dotson, G) vs. 2020 fifth-round pick (154: Jason Strowbridge, DE)

Of these two selections, Schofield wrote:

The Steelers selected Kevin Dotson, who has started 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 special teams snaps and three total tackles. Strawbridge did not make Dolphin’s 53-man roster in 2021, but was originally signed to the practice squad. Unfortunately, Strawbridge was released prior to Week 1 of the 2021 season and hasn’t 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 seventh-round pick (245: Tre Norwood, S) vs. 2021 6th round pick (traded to Kansas City Chiefs)

Schofield explains:

The Steelers selected safety Tre Norwood who, in two seasons, appeared in 32 games with six starts. Norwood has 61 career tackles and one interception from him, though he missed the last two games of the 2022 season due to injury.

The Miami Dolphins eventually traded the sixth round draft pick from the Steelers. The Dolphins traded the pick to the Kansas City Chiefs, who then also traded the pick to the New York Jets… As for how things turned out for the Miami Dolphins with the added trade, they got running back DeAndre Washington, who just appeared in three games in 2021 before being released, receiving a seventh-round draft pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. That draft pick, along with the New York Giants’ former 2015 first-round pick Ereck Flowers, was sent to the Washington Football Team. In exchange, the Dolphins received a higher seventh-round draft pick in which they selected running back Gerrid Doaks, who was not a part of 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 and 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.

Feedback from BTSC community members

Several members of the Behind the Steel Curtain community also commented on the exchange:

La CoruñaXB70

The choice of player equation for this trade is clearly a home run, there’s no way it can be up for debate. The only doubt I had at the time was that piling on 2 first-rounders from 2018 would mess up the contract/salary 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 worked out for the best.


I disagree with all of you, as well as with the author.

The Steelers were in bad shape 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 up the draft order.

Personally, I would have loved to see the Steelers trade aggressively to take Justin Herbert.

By trading for Fitz, Colbert was playing checkers instead of chess.

This Island Earth

A lot of people here complained about giving up a 1st. Many of those same people probably would have been clamoring for a DB to be taken if we had kept the pick. You really can’t do better than trading a 1st for a future HOFer who is early in his career.


It certainly turned out to be a blessed transaction for us.


I didn’t think any discussion beyond “we have a Hall of Fame-caliber safety” was necessary, but I guess in some ways we made it even better when we broke it down further.


Take a bow, Mr. Colbert. And thanks.


Dude, I actually freaked out and my heartbeat literally (not an exaggerated metaphorical use of the word) changed for a few seconds, because I thought for a moment that we had traded Minkah and all I thought was NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….. …………………………………………………….. …………oh never mind, it’s about the trade that brought you here.”

Nogle’s final thoughts

I feel like BTSC’s comments basically cover how this trade worked out for the Dolphins. The Steelers crushed him with this move. The Dolphins put themselves in the position of having to trade Fitzpatrick as the relationship between the player and the team, and specifically then-head coach Brian Flores, had reportedly deteriorated. Fitzpatrick didn’t want him used as the Dolphins planned to use him, and he had made his displeasure known. Flores didn’t seem to like players with strong personalities when he arrived 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, “This is how it’s done.”

The Dolphins have had amazing trades, especially when you look at the Flores-era Laremy Tunsil trade that is still paying dividends for the team, but this one was clearly a loss for Miami.

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