The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: How will Cameron Sutton perform as the team’s number two full-time cornerbacks?
Arguably one of the most significant questions the Steelers are facing this offseason is how fifth-year cornerback Cameron Sutton will step up this year in the wake of the departures of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton.
Sutton has never previously gone into a season with a defined starting role. The closest he has come was when he was the dime back last season. He also spent a lot of time in the starting lineup, mostly in the slot while Hilton was injured, but also subbing for Nelson and even Joe Haden when they were unavailable.
We have seen him start a number of games now — a good handful, anyway — as one of the team’s top three cornerbacks. How will he handle being the number two to Haden for an entire year, and being asked to log 1,000 snaps?
The Steelers obviously must have felt pretty good about it considering the fact that they re-signed him to a two-year deal and didn’t target the others to stay put. Though he would have been the most affordable, regardless.
But we won’t know until we see it on the field. Really, we might not know much until the second half of the season, because part of the battle in being a full-time starter is demonstrating both your physical and mental resilience over the course of an entire year while consistently playing nearly every snap.