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Minkah Fitzpatrick 'paying attention' to T.J. Watt-Steelers negotiations with UFA looming in 2023

_Editor's note: The Pittsburgh Steelers and T.J. Watt have agreed to terms on a four-year extension worth more than $112 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday afternoon. _

T.J. Watt's ongoing contract situation has maintained a place in the daily headlines, and it's lingering in the consciousness of a key teammate as well.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is headed for a big payday in either 2022 or 2023 and knows it won't be too long before he finds himself engaged in the same negotiations with Steelers brass that Watt is currently enduring. If there's a lesson to be gained from Watt's saga, Fitzpatrick is ready to soak it up.

"I'm paying attention to it," Fitzpatrick said of Watt's negotiations. "I'm talking to him ... getting a feel for the organization."

The Steelers have traditionally avoided giving any guaranteed money beyond the first year of a deal, which is a bit of a non-starter in today's negotiations with most top-tier players. Watt's representation has reportedly run into this hurdle, and it would help Fitzpatrick if he'd learned now what he's headed toward.

Scouting, of course, is also an essential part of an winning strategy.

Fitzpatrick said the Steelers have not yet reached out to him to engage in negotiations, which isn't unlike the organization when it comes to finding long-term plans for players who aren't yet in the final year of their contract. Fitzpatrick is entering his fourth professional season and is already under team control (with a nearly $8 million raise) in 2022, so the need to negotiate an extension isn't nearly as pressing.

It will come after 2021, though. There's more than just Watt's future at stake in the Steelers' current negotiations with the premier edge rusher. The outcome -- and how the two sides arrive at it -- could have a ripple effect that reaches other pieces who are key to Pittsburgh's future

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