About a month ago, the worth of the NFL safety market skyrocketed when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Bowl, All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick agreed to a four-year deal worth $73.6 million, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport who was the first to report the news.
This new deal includes $36 million guaranteed for at least the first two years with him earning $18.4 million per year, which now makes him the highest paid safety in football, surpassing Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams who’s earning $17.5 million per season.
But if you thought that the money will be the only thing that will motivate Fitzpatrick for the 2022 season, then you are wrong. When asked about the money and how it motivates ahead this season he stated in a press conference that …
“The money doesn’t motivate the defense to perform.”, reported by ESPN’s Brooke Pryor.
The only question that lies now is, how does Fitzpatrick’s deal with the Steelers affect the safety market as two more high caliber safeties in the names of Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers) and Jessie Bates (Cincinnati Bengals) are still due for a new deal heading as well.
As for James, there has not been any update on his new deal with the Chargers nor where they are in the process of contract negotiations. He sat out this past minicamp due to having surgery on his left labrum (shoulder) this past February, according to The Athletic reporter Daniel Popper.
Along with that, he was out of action for two games this past December due to a hamstring, reported by ESPN’s reporter Lindsey Thiry.
James recorded 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles in the 15 games that he did play last season.
Without question he is one of best safeties in the league when healthy and is a clear difference maker when on the field. You can expect the Chargers and James to come to an agreement on a contract deal sooner rather than later.
As for Bates, his story is different with the Bengals. This past March, the Bengals placed a franchise tag on Bates worth $12.8 million dollars after both parties couldn’t reach a deal agreement for a new contract.
According to reports, Bates is looking to get between $15 – $16 million per year on his new deal, but Bengals don’t see him worth that amount nor more.
Bates spoke on the deal when he appeared on the NFL Network, as he stated “I am not looking to be the highest paid safety,” along with stating … “I do not want to play under the franchise tag this year”
That will explain why he has yet to sign the franchise tag this season, but as time is ticking on the deadline which is July 15th, it’s looking unlikely the Bengals and Bates will reach an agreement. This now means one thing , either Bates will either play under franchise tag this season or he will be traded before the start of the season.
With this Fitzpatrick new deal and more to come, expect the safety market to keep increasing.