2023 Offseason Questions: Are Steelers Better Or Worse Off Swapping Sutton For Patrick Peterson?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Are the Steelers better or worse with Patrick Peterson taking Cameron Sutton’s place?

No deals with unrestricted free agents are official until they are signed, which cannot happen until the official start of the new league year. From what has been reported as agreed to, however, it appears as though cornerback Cameron Sutton will be signing with the Detroit Lions for $11 million a year. In turn, the Steelers are expected to sign former Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson on a two-year, $14 million deal.

Assuming these deals go through, Peterson obviously plugs right into the starting lineup. While he may not play in the slot, he should be able to play either side of the field. Even though he is up there in age, he’s still got life in him. He intercepted five passes with 15 passes defensed last season, the best numbers he’s put up in a decade.

The fundamental question: are the Steelers better or worse swapping Peterson for Sutton? Sutton got the bigger deal, but he’s also got age on his side. His flexibility to move all around the secondary doesn’t hurt, either—and that is a disadvantage for Pittsburgh.

Peterson has been more or less a complete, solid player since he came into the league, a willing tackler in run support and obviously favorable in coverage. There shouldn’t be anything the Steelers can’t ask him to do, nothing that should require special accommodation.

Needless to say, he is a more short-term solution at 33 years old than Sutton could have been, which means they’re still searching for a long-term answer at cornerback—perhaps two. But for the present, will the Steelers’ defense in 2023, and perhaps 2024, be better or worse with the expected change? That’s the biggest question we have to ask today.

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