Player: Cameron Sutton
Experience: 6 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $5,200,000 ($2,100,000 void-year cap hit in 2023)
2022 Season Breakdown:
Entering the 2022 season still facing some question marks about his ceiling as a starter, Cameron Sutton largely answered them by having his best season yet. His strength has always been and will always be his ability to play in coverage, and that’s where he played best while seeing that time on the outside rather than in the slot.
His numbers look good no matter whose you use. For example, Pro Football Reference charges him with 35 receptions allowed on 73 targets, holding wide receivers to under 50 percent on completions. He allowed under 400 cumulative yards with four touchdowns to three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 65.3. A fine season for a starting cornerback, numerically.
Sutton has also continually worked on his game throughout his career in an effort to improve where he is weak, such as in the run game. While he will probably always lack to some degree in the physicality department, he often overcomes that with his instinctual playmaking.
But again, we go back to coverage, where he also had 15 passes defensed, ranking him quite favorably around the league.
Free Agency Outlook:
A rare draft ‘hit’ for the Steelers in the defensive backfield, Cameron Sutton was the first such player to re-sign with the team on a multi-year deal or extension since Cortez Allen, and that unfortunately didn’t work too well. He was the only other Tomlin secondary draft pick to immediately sign a new multi-year extension or contract without a pause, because William Gay (his most successful secondary selection) first left in free agency before returning and having a strong second half of his career.
They took not too dissimilar routes, at left after their rookie seasons, although Gay started sooner and struggled more as a result. Sutton’s transition into a full-time starter was slightly smoother—one of the reasons they hope to re-sign him.
Team president Art Rooney II recently sounded pretty confident that they would be able to. Realistically, his market could, perhaps should, hit eight figures per year after playing out a two-year, $9 million contract.
His deal included three void years that absorbed $2.1 million of that total in cap space, so that still has to be apportioned. The remainder of the contract will void five business days after the Super Bowl, at which point that becomes dead money.
$10 million per season is now a norm for the starting cornerback position with guys like Ronald Darby, Darious Williams, and Kendall Fuller sitting at that mark. Against a nearly $250 million cap hit, Sutton squares in at least that high, if not higher.