For the first time since 2018, someone other than T.J. Watt has been named the Steelers MVP. The award this season goes to free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was recently named to his third Pro Bowl since joining the Steelers two weeks into the 2019 campaign. 

Fitzpatrick is the first defensive back since 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu to win the award. He is the fourth safety to win the award, joining Polamalu (2010), 2021 Hall of Fame inductee Donnie Shell (1980) and Glen Edwards, who won the award during the Steelers' first Super Bowl season back in 1974. 

"It's an honor for sure that my teammates voted. I'm honored that my teammates see me as the MVP," Fitzpatrick said Friday, via' the Steelers website. "This has been nothing but a team effort. It hasn't been the season that we thought it would, but the great part about it is it doesn't really matter what happened in the past. Coach (Mike Tomlin) always says it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. ... You learn from it, move forward from it. We can change the whole season by how we play this weekend, how we dominate this weekend."

The Steelers have issued a team MVP each year since 1969. After a run of offensive players won the award during the 2010s, Watt and Fitzpatrick are the only players to win it during the 2020s. Watt won his third consecutive team MVP honor last season along with the Defensive Player of the Year award after tying Michael Strahan's NFL record for sacks in a single season. 

Steelers MVPs since 2000 



RB Jerome Bettis


QB Kordell Stewart


LB Joey Porter & WR Hines Ward


WR Hines Ward


LB James Farrior


NT Casey Hampton & WR Hines Ward


RB Willie Parker 


LB James Harrison


LB James Harrison


QB Ben Roethlisberger


S Troy Polamalu


WR Antonio Brown


TE Heath Miller


WR Antonio Brown


LB Le'Veon Bell


WR Antonio Brown


RB Le'Veon Bell


WR Antonio Brown


WR JuJu Smith-Schuster


LB T.J. Watt

2020LB T.J. Watt 
2021LB T.J. Watt
2022S Minkah Fitzpatrick

Despite missing two games with injuries, Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with six interceptions entering the final weekend of the regular season. He also has 11 pass breakups and 86 tackles. Fitzpatrick scored the Steelers' first touchdown of the season with a pick-six of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow back in Week 1. He won AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors that week after tallying 14 tackles and blocking the Bengals' point-after attempt at the end of regulation. The Steelers ended up beating Cincinnati in overtime. 

When looking at the greatest trades in Steelers history, the one to acquire Fitzpatrick from Miami in September of 2019 may be right at the top. The Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick (who at that time was at the start of his second season) while swapping several draft picks with the Dolphins that included their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Fitzpatrick, who is still only 26 years old, has established himself as one of the NFL's best defensive players since arriving in Pittsburgh. He was a big-play machine during his first two years with the Steelers, as he intercepted nine passes, forced two fumbles, recovered three more and scored three defensive touchdowns. Fitzpatrick's ball-hawking ability helped him earn consecutive All-Pro honors. 

Last season, Fitzpatrick's impact was felt in an entirely different way. With Pittsburgh's defensive line barraged by injuries, Fitzpatrick focused more on being a run-stopper than a playmaker. He was often tasked with preventing moderate runs from turning into big gains. While his turnover production went down as a result, Fitzpatrick led the Steelers with 124 tackles, a career-high. He also still came down with two interceptions along with a forced fumble and a recovered fumble. 

"I'm going to go out there and do whatever Coach T asks me to do and whatever the team needs me to do in order to win," Fitzpatrick told CBS Sports during training camp. "Last year, it was making a lot of tackles, and the year before that, it was getting a lot of turnovers. Whatever this year brings, this year brings." 

It's that selflessness that has endeared Fitzpatrick to his teammates and the Steelers organization. It also likely played a role in the Steelers signing him with a four-year extension this offseason that at the time made him the league's highest-paid safety. 

"It's definitely an honor," Fitzpatrick said of his contract extension. "Pittsburgh is a great city to play for and play in. I'm blessed, I'm honored. Just going to keep working and keep getting better every year and every day." 

Fitzpatrick is hoping to help the Steelers defeat the Browns on Sunday while securing the franchise's 19th consecutive non-losing season. A Steelers win, along with a Buffalo win over New England and a Jets victory over Miami, would give the Steelers their third consecutive playoff berth after a 3-7 start to the season.