Player: Cameron Sutton
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2020 Salary Cap Hit: $1,009,032
2020 Season Breakdown:
Cameron Sutton has, for the most part, been a player on the rise from his first season to his most recent. Originally taken in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, his career started off with an injury that had him sidelined for most of his rookie season, and he was seen as an afterthought to a top of a draft that included T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, but he has since shown that he belongs in that group.
The 2020 season was his best and most versatile yet, having been tasked with making multiple starts throughout the secondary, including a number on the inside in the slot while Mike Hilton was out with injuries. He also made starts on both sides on the outside with Steven Nelson and Joe Haden missing time for different reasons.
With that said, of course, he had a couple of down moments here and there. He had some rough spots going up against Stefon Diggs against the Buffalo Bills, for example, who may have been the best wide receiver in the NFL in 2020.
But on the whole, especially for somebody who has yet to have a full-time starting job, Sutton played at a high level. He was one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated coverage players in the slot, for example, and he did get his hands on a career-high nine passes—not to mention forcing three fumbles. He even technically had a sack.
Free Agency Outlook:
Now, as to what his free agency value is, that is hard to say. Is it possible that somebody out there sees him as a low-end starter, even for a slot starter? I think we could see that. If that is the case, he could make a bit of change for himself.
More likely, he will still be viewed as somebody who is under the radar, and should come relatively cheaply. I don’t expect that he would garner much more than $3 million per season on whatever deal he might sign, and it could come in less than that, but it may well be in that range.
To speak the obvious, the Steelers should very much be interested in continuing their working relationship with Sutton, who has only gotten better over the course of his career, and who is capable of filling basically anywhere in the secondary. He has played every role in some form or fashion over the course of the past couple of years, and he prides himself on his work ethic and dedication to learning not just the defense, but the game, and that’s something you can’t teach.