For the most part, the Pittsburgh Steelers do not allow the majority of the starting players that they really want to keep around to even get through the final year of their contracts. I’m talking about players like Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey, Cameron Heyward and, soon, T.J. Watt.
There is a secondary level that they understand will be a toss-up as to whether or not they’ll be able to keep, and they end up having to compete to keep them on the open market. This has happened in the past with guys like Ramon Foster and Ryan Clark, for example. And sometimes these scenarios are forced on them due to the salary cap.
That probably wasn’t the case with Cameron Sutton. He’s a guy who’s never even held a starting job yet, but he will move into the starting lineup this year as the nickel defender with Mike Hilton now taking his talents to Cincinnati. And he’s very excited about the opportunity, not just to play a bigger role, but to stay in Pittsburgh, as he said earlier today on SiriusXM.
“It makes me feel really good” to stay put, he said. “When you’re talking about an organization that has nothing but the utmost respect and support behind me from the beginning, a team that drafted me out of college, being able to say that you’re drafted, that’s a blessing in its own. And especially to a historic and great city like Pittsburgh”.
“Just being able to stay with Pittsburgh, that means a lot as well”, he added. “It’s just a relationship. You meet so many great people over the time, and it’s only going to get better. It’s not just football. The city itself, the people. Everything outside of football in the city of Pittsburgh, it’s hard to just want to up and leave and move your family around, especially when you have so many supportive people behind you”.
Although he did make it into the ‘tampering’ window, which means that he had the opportunity (or his representation did) to discuss contracts with other teams, Sutton never technically hit free agency, which does not officially begin for another 23 hours. Does he regret not experiencing free agency?
“No, not at all”, he said. “It was a great decision. And what comes from it is what you do with it”.
Sutton is the only one of the four players the Steelers drafted in the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft who hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl yet. I’m not sure if that will ever be in the cards for him, though he could certainly one day be an outside starting corner.
But at least he’ll still be in Pittsburgh and contributing at a high level, something that frankly can’t be said about enough draft picks lately. Sutton already played nearly 550 defensive snaps last season with six starts at all cornerback positions, so moving full-time into the slot won’t necessarily be an issue for him.