Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton had by far the best season of his career in 2022, as he became the team’s top cornerback and had career highs in interceptions (three) and pass deflections (15). Sutton was also targeted 71 times, one less than his career high of 72 in 2021, but while last year he allowed a passer rating of 104.9 and 48 completions allowed. This year, he cut those numbers significantly with just a 67.1 passer rating allowed when targeted while allowing just 35 receptions. Sutton’s play has earned him well-deserved praise across the league as he heads into unrestricted free agency. Pro Football Focus recently named Sutton the No. 17 ranked free agent and the second-best free agent corner, behind James Bradberry of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Sutton quietly continued to excel in a Pittsburgh coverage unit that was otherwise very exploitable this season, with 2022 being just his second season as a full-time starter on the outside. Sutton signed a two-year, $9 million deal in 2021 that he outplayed in 2022, earning a 71.0 coverage grade and allowing just 411 receiving yards — the ninth fewest among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps on the season. Sutton’s versatility as a defensive back who can still line up in the slot when called upon provides added value for interested teams, as well,” Brad Spielberger of PFF wrote.
Bringing back Sutton has to be priority number one for the Steelers. It’s been a long time since they’ve had a true shutdown corner, and while Sutton probably isn’t that guy, he played as close to it as you could expect in 2022. If he can match his 2022 production in the coming years, he’s going to be a very valuable commodity and a cornerback that the Steelers would love to have. The cornerback room isn’t top-heavy or all that deep (in other words, it’s not particularly good), especially when you consider that Pittsburgh could cut both William Jackson III and Ahkello Witherspoon this offseason. The position is going to be a need with or without Sutton, but it would sure be nice to bring Sutton back and have the peace of mind that you’re keeping a guy who was among the best at his position in 2022.
It would probably be wise of Sutton to hit the open market. He signed a two-year, $9 million extension with the Steelers right after free agency opened in March 2021, but he’s surely going to get a lot more than that this foray into free agency. In Omar Khan and Andy Weidl’s first offseason running the team, they’re gonna have to make sure they give Sutton a strong offer early in the process to keep the Steelers in the running for his services.
Keeping Sutton over Mike Hilton in 2021 seems like it was the right decision. Now, the Steelers have to show Sutton some love again and try to lock him up in the black and gold long term.