Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton has had an impressive season for the black and gold, as the sixth-year cornerback has a career-high three interceptions in 14 games thus far, including a big one to help seal Pittsburgh’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16. Sutton also has tallied a career-high 14 pass deflections, soaring past his previous high of eight in the 2020 season while allowing just a 67.3 quarterback rating when targeted. Sutton is already on his second contract with the team, but that contract is due to expire this offseason. NFL.com put out a list of their top 51 upcoming free agents today, and Sutton checked in at No. 27 on the list.
As justification for Sutton’s ranking, Gregg Rosenthal wrote that “An improving starting cornerback with plenty of experience is rare in this market.”
Sutton’s blend of youth and experience is indeed rare in free agency. If he reaches the open market he’ll do so heading into his seventh season while being in his prime at age 28 (he turns 28 on February 27). He’s also put together an impressive string of seasons and has made the Steelers’ decision to prioritize him over Mike Hilton two offseasons ago look like a good one, as Sutton has given them really good production for less money than they would’ve had to pay Hilton. The downside of that contract was it was just for two years, and now the Steelers will have to pay Sutton again and likely give him a significant raise.
Sutton’s placement at No. 27 left him sandwiched between San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at No. 26 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David at No. 28. Sutton was the only member of the Steelers on the list, although some notable former Steelers were included. Current Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman and former Steeler Javon Hargrave came in at No. 4, while JuJu Smith-Schuster landed at No. 16 on the list in the midst of a nice year with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sutton is one of Pittsburgh’s best corners, and he’s a guy the team is going to look to bring back. He’s been on the field for 93% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps this season and has eight total interceptions in his career, with five of those coming in the last two seasons. He’s taken a step forward every year of his career, and the Steelers will probably want to lock him up during some of his prime years. If he makes it to free agency though, Sutton’s play this season has ensured that there will be a market for his services, and there’s a chance the price goes higher than the Steelers are willing to pay. If possible, they should make a concerted effort to re-sign Sutton before he can hit free agency to make sure they don’t lose one of the better members of their secondary to the highest bidder.
That’s something for Pittsburgh to worry about in the offseason, though. For now, Sutton and the Steelers’ attention is focused on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17 and trying to hold onto the sliver of hope they have left to sneak into the postseason.