When the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed cornerback Cameron Sutton and allowed Mike Hilton to leave in free agency, it seemed as though what would follow was just a matter of course. Sutton, who started four games in 2020 in place of Hilton in 2020 due to injury, would slide right into that slot cornerback role.
Things took another turn when the team released starting outside cornerback Steven Nelson, leaving us with the presumption that Sutton would take over that role. But even if he does, he is more than ready and willing to move between the outside and inside as needed, versatility being something that he embraced for his career many years ago.
“I love that. It’s just more opportunities to impact the game. It’s just in the flow of the game”, he told reporters yesterday during a Zoom interview about the prospects of potentially moving around during a game. “Obviously, there are situations where there’s just a base defense out there, and I have the comfortability of playing outside”.
“Then obviously you have the situations of sub-packages or different breakdowns or schematics based upon what we’re facing throughout the week, and that creates more opportunities for guys to step in and embrace the roles for themselves, too”, he continued. “We’re all in this together. It’s not just, I have this role and I’m a part of this. No. We’re all moving pieces that can be interchangeable and could still be productive”.
A former third-round draft pick, Sutton played a career-high 548 snaps on defense last season, more than double the amount that he had had in any one season before. That included four starts in the slot and one start on either boundary. He also started another game on the outside during the postseason.
“You’re never gonna just say, ‘hey, I’m gonna line up on this side of the field’”, he said. “There are gonna be times where you have to cross the side of the ball. That’s just all the versatility within the game, just being on your toes, having your head on a swivel, and being ready for whatever”.
Sutton just wants to impact the gam in any way he can, and he took steps forward in that area last season. He posted a career-high nine passes defensed, including one interception, while also forcing three fumbles, recovering another, and registering a sack.
Earlier this month, the Steelers signed him to a two-year, $9 million contract, marking the first time since 2014 that the team had given a second contract to a cornerback they had drafted, the previous instance being 2011 fourth-round pick Cortez Allen.