As the 2023 NFL offseason gets rolling, there are plenty of decisions the Pittsburgh Steelers need to make in regards to the roster. One decision that is off the table this year is whether or not to exercise the fifth-year option for the Steelers first-round draft pick from the 2020 NFL draft. The reason this is not an issue is because the Steelers did not have a first round draft pick in 2020 due for the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The trade for Fitzpatrick after Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season saw the exchange of one player and five draft picks. With two of those picks coming in the 2021 NFL draft, every player involved now has at least two NFL seasons to try to make their mark within the league.
Now that this amount of time has passed, let’s take a look at how the trade panned out for both teams. With the Steelers giving up their first-round pick and then swapping two other sets of picks, we’re going to look at this as a comparison of each set. The first will look at Minkah Fitzpatrick versus the ultimate pick that would have been the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020 and then compare each of the swapped picks.
Minkah Fitzpatrick vs, 2020 Round 1, Pick 18 (Austin Jackson)
Since joining the Steelers, Minkah Fitzpatrick has been selected as an All-Pro in three of his four seasons. Additionally, the Steelers have locked up Fitzpatrick through the 2026 NFL season. Not much more needs to be said at this time about how well this part of the trade has worked for the Steelers.
The Dolphins used the 18th overall pick in 2020 to draft offensive tackle Austin Jackson out of USC. 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 where we was placed on IR. After returning and appearing in one more game, Jackson went back on IR to finish the season. At this time, it is not expected for the Dolphins to pick up Jackson’s fifth-year option.
2020 Round 4, Pick 135 (Kevin Dotson) vs. 2020 Round 5, Pick 154 (Jason Strowbridge)
The next swap of draft picks saw the Steelers gaining a round as they upgraded their fifth-round pick for a fourth-round pick. The Steelers selected Kevin Dotson who has starting 30 games for the Steelers in three seasons. Most importantly, Dotson started every game and played every snap of 2022 at left guard.
With the Steelers fifth round pick, the Miami Dolphins selected defensive end Jason Strowbridge out of North Carolina. Strawbridge played in eight games for the Dolphins in 2020 where he saw 55 defensive snaps along with 12 snaps on special teams and three total tackles. Strawbridge did not make the Dolphin 53-man roster in 2021 but was originally signed to the practice squad. Unfortunately, Strawbridge was released before Week 1 of the 2021 season and has not landed on an NFL roster since.
2021 Round 7, Pick 245 (Tre Norwood) vs. 2021 Round 6, pick 207 (Jonathan Marshall)
The final part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade came in the 2021 draft where the Steelers gave up their sixth-round draft pick to the Dolphins in exchange for their seventh-round draft pick. The Steelers selected safety Tre Norwood who, in two seasons, has appeared in 32 games with six starts. Norwood has 61 tackles and an interception in his career, although he missed the final two games of the 2022 season due to injury.
The Miami Dolphins ultimately traded the Steelers sixth-round draft pick. The Dolphins traded the selection to the Kansas City Chiefs who then also traded the pick to the New York Jets. The player selected with the Steelers original pick was defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall. Marshall appeared in four games for the Jets in 2021 and had two tackles. On the Jets practice squad in 2022, Marshal what is poached off the practice squad in December by the Steelers and was on their 53-man roster for the final four weeks of the season although he was inactive. So ultimately, the player selected in what should have been the Steelers sixth-round draft pick ended up in Pittsburgh and is under contract for 2023.
As for how things worked out for the Miami Dolphins with the additional trade, they received running back DeAndre Washington, who only appeared in three games in 2021 before being released, and received a seventh-round draft pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. That draft pick, along with former 2015 first-round draft pick of the New York Giants Ereck Flowers, was sent to the Washington Football Team. In return, the Dolphins received a higher seventh-round draft pick where they selected running back Gerrid Doaks who did not make the 53-man roster and has yet to appear in an NFL game.
In looking at the overall trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the subsequent draft picks that were selected, the Steelers made out better than could have been imagined at the time. Of course, the players who were selected in these spots were likely not who the Steelers would have taken, but we will never know exactly who those selections would have been otherwise. But for the Dolphins, they very well could have no players remaining on the roster from any of the trades after the 2023 season as only one player is still in Miami in Austin Jackson. As for the Steelers, Fitzpatrick is racking up All-Pro honors, both draft picks selected from the trade were on the Steelers 53-man roster last season with one being a starter, and one of the players selected in the Steelers ultimate draft position is now on their roster.
That’s how it’s done.