Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: CB Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Cameron Sutton re-signed with the Steelers on a two-year contract worth $9 million. The team also released starting cornerback Steven Nelson, putting the fifth-year player in position to move into the starting lineup after having never held a full-time role before.
Well, here is an obvious one, no? One of the handful of unrestricted free agents the Steelers have managed to retain, Sutton stands to be one of the players from last year’s roster who will benefit the most from this offseason.
The 2017 third-round pick went from being the team’s dime defender to now almost surely being a starting, every-down cornerback in 2021, following the release of Steven Nelson and the departure via free agency of Mike Hilton, the latter of whom has kept Sutton out of having a larger role for the past four years.
Originally drafted in part because of his versatile skill set that allows him to move around in the secondary, Sutton has started numerous games both in the slot in place of Hilton and on the outside in place of Joe Haden, Nelson, and previously, Artie Burns.
He brings with him this year nine career starts, including the postseason, seven of which occurred just this past season—three on the outside and four on the inside. In 2020, he registered a career-high 30 tackles in 548 defensive snaps (plus 187 special teams snaps) with three forced fumbles, an interception, a fumble recovery, and eight passes defensed.
The Steelers must have felt good about the prospects of Sutton moving into the starting lineup on a full-time basis, and really, he may be better served playing on the outside, though if they are unable to obtain another player capable of playing in the slot, they will have to rotate him inside when they play in their nickel and dime defenses—which is frequent.