Minkah Fitzpatrick

NFL Rumors: Dolphins trade Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers

NFL Rumors: Dolphins trade Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers

The Miami Dolphins have reportedly traded Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers, ending any chance the Patriots had to secure their division rival's young star. 

The Steelers will send their 2020 first round pick to the Dolphins for Fitzpatrick, giving Miami three first round picks and six total selections in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft.

Fitzpatrick, a versatile safety with experience playing both safety spots along with slot and outside corner, will help a Steelers secondary that was completely obliterated by the Patriots in Week 1. Ben Roethlisberger is out for the rest of the season, so it will be up to Mason Rudolph to lead the Steeler offense after their defense gets a major upgrade. 

This also takes a potential trade off the table for the Patriots. Our own Phil Perry outlined why it would have made a ton of sense for the Patriots to try and pry Fitzpatrick away from Miami, but it appears the Dolphins will deal their first round selection from 2018 to one of New England's rivals. 

Jalen Ramsey requested a trade from the Jaguars on Monday, so if the Patriots are willing to give up a first round pick for some help in the secondary, there's still an elite option out there. However, New England's corner group has been exceptional during the first two weeks of 2019. 

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Minkah Fitzpatrick frustrated by trade rumors ahead of Patriots matchup

Minkah Fitzpatrick frustrated by trade rumors ahead of Patriots matchup

The Miami Dolphins reportedly have given Minkah Fitzpatrick a lifeline. But the talented safety seems slightly peeved that's public knowledge.

Fitzpatrick admitted as much to reporters Friday following a report that the Dolphins had given him permission to seek a trade out of Miami.

"It’s a little frustration, but I have to shift my focus to what’s important,” Fitzpatrick said, via Safid Deen of the Sun-Sentinel.

“I can’t focus on the trade talks and everything else like that. I have to focus on the New England Patriots, my teammates, my coaches, and this week’s game plan."

Brian Flores' Dolphins lost their season opener by 49 points and are in danger of another blowout at the hands of the New England Patriots, who rolled the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.

Coincidentally, Miami's opponent also could be a potential suitor for Fitzpatrick. The 23-year-old Alabama product was considered a strong fit for the Patriots entering the 2018 NFL Draft as a versatile safety who could fit the Patrick Chung mold in New England.

Fitzpatrick went to the Dolphins at No. 11 overall in 2018, but now that he's actively seeking a trade, according to Deen, perhaps the Patriots can use Sunday's game in Miami to do some advance scouting on the young safety.

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Makes a lot of sense for Patriots to try to pry Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins in trade

Makes a lot of sense for Patriots to try to pry Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins in trade

Might the Patriots be willing to make an in-division trade for the third time in the last three weeks?

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Friday that the Dolphins have given second-year defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick permission to seek a trade. Miami is reportedly hoping to get a package for last year's No. 11 overall pick that includes a first-round draft choice.

The Patriots have already traded with the Bills (for Russell Bodine) and Jets (for a sixth-round pick) in the last few weeks, but on its face, a deal for Fitzpatrick makes more sense than any other the Patriots have worked this offseason.

Fitzpatrick was the best safety fit in last year's draft for New England based on where he played his college football (Alabama), his athleticism (4.46-second 40, 33-inch vertical, 121-inch broad jump), his versatility (lined up in the slot, at linebacker, off the edge, at safety and at corner in 2017), and his highly-touted football character. 

He was at the top of the list of last year's Prototypical Patriots. But because Fitzpatrick nearly cracked the top-10, the Patriots had little shot at him unless they wanted to package their two first-round picks to move up and get him. (They went on to take Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel, both of whom have prominent in the Patriots offense.)

Now, if all the Patriots have to do is turn over a No. 1 pick for 2020 for Fitzpatrick, shouldn't they do it without hesitation? Not only was he a well-rounded phenom in college, his performance as a rookie last year bodes well for how he'll perform when he settles into life as a pro. Extremely well.

According to Pro Football Focus, Fitzpatrick allowed a 69.0 passer rating when targeted last season (ninth among corners). He posted 0.84 yards allowed per coverage snap (12th) and 14.1 snaps per reception allowed (13th). When in the slot, where he spent the majority of his time, he allowed a passer rating of 53.4, which was tops in the league.

Fitzpatrick will turn 23 in November. As a first-rounder last year, he'll be under team control through the 2022 season if his fifth-year option is picked up. And in the Patriots defense he could be a Patrick Chung type of movable chess piece that Belichick would love. After trading Brandin Cooks for a first-round pick not too long ago, one would think that the Patriots would be willing to give up at least that much for a player who seems so perfectly suited for their system.

Here's the catch: Fitzpatrick apparently hates the role that makes so much sense for him.

Remember, he's in Brian Flores' defense with the Dolphins. Flores would undoubtedly love to have a safety-linebacker-slot corner hybrid player like Chung in his system to build toward the future. But Fitzpatrick doesn't seem interested. In ESPN's report, it's explained that Fitzpatrick does not want to play multiple positions. It's also pointed out that Fitzpatrick took issue with being moved into the box by the Dolphins during joint practices with the Bucs this summer.

"Coach has asked me to do something right now. I got to do what they ask me to do," Fitzpatrick said at the time. "If we have to have some discussions in the future, we'll have those discussions.

"I'm not 215 pounds, 220 pounds. So playing in the box isn't best suited for me, but that's what Coach is asking me to do."

That's exactly what the Patriots would ask Fitzpatrick (listed at 6-1, 207 pounds) to do. Maybe he'd be willing to change his mind if the Patriots acquired him. Maybe getting out from under a situation where there's expected to be a good deal of losing this season would open Fitzpatrick's mind to filling a variety of roles. 

And in 2019 Fitzpatrick might not even have to be the versatile defender the Patriots would eventually ask him to be. Chung (5-11, 215) still looks like an effective player in that role at 32 years old. Even in the slot the Patriots are pretty well covered with Jonathan Jones, who just signed an extension with the team. 

Fitzpatrick still seems like an easy target for the Patriots, regardless of the first-round price tag. The only thing that might keep them from trying to do that deal -- other than the Dolphins not being willing to trade him within the division -- would be Fitzpatrick's reluctance to make the most of his versatility. 

His skill set is a perfect fit for what the Patriots want. He'd be a talented young piece in a secondary that currently relies on three players in their 30s (Chung, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty). 

But in a locker room where a whatever-coach-wants approach his highly valued, Fitzpatrick's apparent unwillingness to do more than one thing might be enough to turn the Patriots off.

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