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Why the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade had nothing to do with Ben Roethlisberger’s injury

A common misconception floating around needs to be cleared up.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

As I was leaving the gym this morning I heard some talking heads yelling on television about how dumb the Pittsburgh Steelers were for trading away a first round pick in 2020 for Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

I then got into my car to drive to work, where I heard some talking heads yelling on sports talk radio about how stupid it was the Steelers made this trade on the same day it was deemed Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury was of the season-ending variety.

There were reasons behind these thoughts, mainly the future of Roethlisberger with the Steelers. Some view the trade as showing supreme trust in Mason Rudolph to be able to do enough to win games in 2019, but ultimately how the Steelers could be out of the running for a quarterback in next year’s draft. While this might be true it is also extremely short-sighted.

What these talking heads were missing was the fact this wasn’t a trade for the short-term. They didn’t get Fitzpatrick’s rights for the rest of this year, only to have him hit free agency in 2020. In fact, I would suggest this deal had absolutely nothing to do with Ben Roethlisberger whatsoever.

It just so happened it coincided on the same day the news of Roethlisberger’s fate broke.

Could the Steelers play poor enough to finish the season 6-10 and be near the Top 10 in the 2020 NFL Draft? Sure. But they could also be good enough to win nine games and find themselves in their usual middle-to-late first round draft slot.

This wasn’t a win-now play, at least not to me. This was a move to improve the defense over the next three seasons.

Fitzpatrick is in the second year of his rookie contract, and after that the Steelers will have the option to control his contract for the next three seasons. That is a proven first round talent who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and is a huge upgrade over the current crop of slot defenders/safeties the team has currently on the roster.

However, if you are someone who is destined to somehow draw the conclusion between this trade and the potential of the Steelers drafting a quarterback in 2020, there is plenty of reasons why the Steelers likely wouldn’t have done that in the first place.

Clearly, Ben Roethlisberger intends to return. Whether he is physically capable to do so is anything but certain, but his current intention is to return to the Steelers and play at a high level. On top of that, Pittsburgh obviously likes what they have in Rudolph. They wouldn’t have traded Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars if they didn’t, and worst case scenario over the next 14 games is Rudolph proves he is at least a very good backup quarterback moving forward.

With the Steelers’ other needs, there was no guarantee they would have taken a flier on a mid-round quarterback prospect.

So, while the talking heads are out in full force chastising the Steelers for the trade, be willing to look down the road before judging the trade. They received a proven commodity over a gamble on a prospect in the first round, a round where the Steelers have been anything but certain to hit a home run the past 5 years.

In my opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own, this was an aggressive play by the Steelers to improve their team in a big way, and they did just that. This is why I am a fan of this trade for this year, and beyond.