Steelers latest signing is amazing news for Minkah Fitzpatrick above all else

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed safety DeShon Elliott, who may finally allow Minkah Fitzpatrick to thrive once again.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers
Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers / Katharine Lotze/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a flurry of transactions this offseason. The signing of quarterback Russell Wilson — and subsequent trade of quarterback Kenny Pickett — will dominate the narratives, but Pittsburgh's most crucial roster moves may have come on the defensive side of the ball.

Pittsburgh signed free agent safety DeShon Elliott to a two-year, $6 million contract with the Steelers. Elliott spend the first four years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He started 15 games for the Miami Dolphins last season and 13 games for the Detroit Lions in 2022.

While Elliott may not be a flashy signing, he could be the perfect complement to three-time first-team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

New Steelers safety DeShon Elliott could help Minkah Fitzpatrick thrive

Fitzpatrick thrived when he was able to roam the centerfield as a ballhawking free safety. The Steelers struggled to find a suitable replacement for safety Terrell Edmunds during the 2023 offseason, and Fitzpatrick was forced into a more versatile role that didn't take advantage of his strengths.

In 2023, Pittsburgh attempted to replace Edmunds with a committee approach: safety Keanu Neal played as a box safety for run-support and safety Damontae Kazee came in on sub-packages for passing downs. When both Neal and Kazee got injured, Fitzpatrick was forced into the box for run support.

In 2022, Fitzpatrick played just 8.6 percent of his snaps in the box. In 2023, that number skyrocketed to 23.6 percent. Elliott began his career as a free safety, but he has developed into a serviceable every-down player with experience as a slot cornerback and run-supporting box defender. If Elliott and middle linebacker Patrick Queen can fill the void left by Edmunds' departure, Fitzpatrick can return to picking off post routes.

Elliott allowed 22 catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns as the nearest defender last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The 26-year-old safety also recorded seven pass deflections and an interception.

Elliott spent a lot of time in the box (236 snaps to be exact), and is a very good run-supporting safety. This move is very emblematic of the Patrick Queen signing. The Steelers want to take the load off Minkah Fitzpatrick and let him play centerfield. If they need to load the box, Elliott will be that guy, while Queen will be the predominant coverage linebacker in the middle of the field. 

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