Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: CB Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Up
The Pittsburgh Steelers did not add another cornerback of note throughout free agency or the draft. The only defensive back that they did pick up was Antoine Brooks, who is a safety who is more likely to play in the box than to drop back in the deep middle.
From that point of view, I have Cameron Sutton’s stock up from the last time that we discussed him in this column, which was in late February. Now entering the final year of his rookie contract, he is heading into his fourth year hoping to carve out some kind of role that he can present to teams in free agency next year.
Even with his stock ‘up’, that won’t be easy to do. Joe Haden and Steven Nelson appear to be pretty well entrenched in the starting lineup, while Mike Hilton is locked up under a restricted rights tender. Meanwhile, second year Justin Layne will be looking to make headway, and to push Sutton for the top backup job.
But Sutton’s versatility is also his friend, because he could also factor into the depth at safety, which is relatively thin. Behind the starters in Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Marcus Allen and Jordan Dangerfield are the most notable names.
A hidden bonus for him this year is, I think, the losses of Javon Hargrave and Mark Barron. With these two pieces gone, I think that makes it much easier for the Steelers to talk themselves into playing a lot of dime defense, which Sutton would figure to be in line to play in.
Since he can play either inside or outside or at safety, he would be a great chess piece, in this or in other situations. But we are really getting down to the wire as it concerns his future. To date, he has played just over 600 total defensive snaps in his career over three years, averaging about 250 in each of the past two.