Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson certainly had a lot to say yesterday as a guest on 93.7 The Fan, commenting a variety of topics surrounding his former team, the one that drafted him though only one of three for which he would go on to play.
Former players commenting on their old team can be mixed bag in terms of what value they can offer and what they can receive, and a lot of times, it depends on who the player is. Woodson has no shortage of cache in terms of his on-field abilities, and fans tend to respect his ‘old school’ mentality, so he tends to get a wide berth when he does comment.
One of his less headline-grabbing remarks that he made during the interview was his expression of hope that the Steelers keep two of their young defensive backs—Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton—who will be free agents at the start of the new league year.
“I’d like for them to keep both”, he told his hosts. “You need players nowadays. You need three corners. This game is played in space, and you need your playmakers, and I think they play solid football”, though he did offer them some advice.
“I would like to see them kind of have that ‘Fitzpatrick’ mentality, because he takes shots”, he said, referring to safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. “He’s trying to make plays consistently throughout the season. So I would like to see Hilton and Sutton, I would like to see both of those guys just not fear getting beat. Putting your foot in the ground and go make a play”.
“There’s an old gambling term. Scared money don’t win no money”, he went on. “What Dick LeBeau used to tell me is, the bear is gonna get you sometimes, you’re gonna get the bear. But as long as you get the bear more than he gets you, you’re gonna be good. And that’s what I tell guys all the time”.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions that need to be resolved over the course of the next week, including what exactly the salary cap number is going to be, which will help to paint a clearer picture of just what the Steelers have to work with as they pursue the retention of some of their free agents.
Hilton would be tougher to keep than Sutton, who has not had a fixed role over the course of his career, but played his best ball last season and had a number of opportunities to start games due to injury, both inside and outside.
Sutton is the most successful cornerback the Steelers have drafted since Keenan Lewis in 2009, which is saying something—and not because they’ve never tried to draft them. Curtis Brown in 2011 was a third-round selection. Senquez Golson, taken in round two, was a whiff in 2015. A year later, they swung for Artie Burns in round one, and he nearly missed the cut by year four.