The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the best in the NFL when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers. The exact opposite of that could be said for cornerbacks and secondary players in general. As a matter of fact, the Steelers weren’t able to fix their secondary completely until 2019 when they went outside of the organization to do so. A trend that had been years in the making. Between signing Joe Haden via free agency in 2017, signing Steven Nelson in free agency in 2019 and trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick during the 2019 season, the Steelers identified their issues and to their credit went out and did something about it. The team hadn’t drafted, developed and then given a second contract to a corner in a very long time. That was until yesterday (3/15/21), when the team re-signed Cameron Sutton to a two-year, $9 mil deal.
A third-round selection in the 2017 draft, Sutton has continued to improve as his role has expanded. Seen as a chess piece, Mike Tomlin and DC Keith Butler have capitalized on his versatility and deployed him in a variety of ways. His role figures to expand that much more in 2021 and could expand even greater beyond that. The pending departure of Mike Hilton would see Sutton slide into the role as the team’s primary slot corner. A role he has thrived in, though in a very different way than Hilton.
2021 is also the last year under contract (as of now) for both Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. An extension could be in play for one, if not both. Nevertheless, Sutton still figures to be a big piece for this team. The future for him would likely be getting handed the keys on the boundary once Joe Haden’s time comes to an end (he will be 32 at the start of the 2021 season). His ability to wear multiple hats on this defense gives the team a ton of options, though.
While the new deal Sutton signed is technically a two-year deal, it’s unlikely he will play that second year on this current deal. It’s clear the Steelers love him and see him as a long term fixture somewhere on this defense. They will likely try to extend him again before the 2022 season even begins. I wouldn’t consider this a “prove it” or “trial” deal or anything like that, but I do think after seeing how he fares in an expanded role for an entire season, the team will look to give him another extension before he enters what would once again be a contract year.
A Win-Win for Cameron Sutton and the Steelers
This deal is very good for both sides in my opinion. He gets a nice increase in pay, yet still well under what he could’ve fetched on the open market. Best of all his cap hit will be just $2.75 million for the cap-strapped Steelers in 2021. For what he brings to this defense, I think you could consider him the most undervalued player on that side of the ball.
Whether it’s in the slot, on the boundary, covering a team’s top wide receiver or covering a tight end, I can’t wait to see what is in store for Cameron Sutton. He’s earned this new deal and then some. The team has a plan for him and while we don’t know exactly what that plan is as of right now, the fact he’s back on a new deal is a milestone in itself. As I stated earlier, the team has had an inability to draft, develop and retain cornerbacks. Sutton has finally been the guy to buck that trend. At just 26 years old, his game is still evolving and his role is expanding. I’m glad he will continue to do those things while wearing black and gold.