The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Cameron Sutton
Experience: 5 Years
Ordinarily I would kick off the secondary starters with Joe Haden, but since we talked about him yesterday in the free agent analysis series, I’m going to start on the opposite side and work my way over to the left.
That leaves us on Cameron Sutton, who entered the starting lineup on a full-time basis for the first time in 2021 after several years of spot duty. After parting with Steven Nelson, the Steelers signed Sutton to a two-year, $9 million contract, which is quite affordable for a starter. He received a $3.5 million signing bonus, and he holds a base salary value of $4.5 million in 2022 (e.g. half of the total value of the deal).
And his first year as a starter was…okay. There wasn’t anything hugely good or bad that really stood out. Sure, he got beaten his fair share by some of the better wide receivers in the game, especially when Joe Haden was out, and he actually had a surprisingly low six passes defensed, though he did pick off two passes.
One area in which he has grown over the years is in his physicality and willingness to play the run. Combine that with greater experience through playing time honing his natural instincts, and you see why he had four tackles for loss this season (five including the playoffs), which is rare for an outside cornerback.
Of course, he also played inside, though he still saw about 75 percent of his snaps on the boundary, and the bulk of his tackles near the line of scrimmage were there. He played the slot primarily in obvious passing situations.
Still, his versatility remains very valuable, and we can’t rule out the possibility that that is his primary position in 2022 and/or beyond, especially if they re-sign Ahkello Witherspoon, who is an outside-only quarterback, or Joe Haden, who has gone so far as to say he would rather retire than play inside.