With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we have turned our attention to the offseason. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: CB Cameron Sutton
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: The sixth-year veteran cornerback has reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year, $33 million contract to join the Detroit Lions. It is unknown how seriously the Steelers pushed to retain him, and how in the ballpark that figure would have been for them.
The Steelers’ track record for drafting and developing cornerbacks has not been great over the past decade and a half. Even their arguable success stories are a mixed bag, barring William Gay. Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen are the most notable names until you get to Cameron Sutton, who just earned a three-year, $33 million contract on the open market.
And I do mean earned. He paid his dues and waited his turn and improved every year since he was drafted, taking every opportunity to get onto the field. Then he turned in a very fine performance for the Steelers in 2022 as a full-time starter on the outside.
That included being very stingy in coverage. Every outlet that tracks such things will have its own proprietary numbers, but I don’t think you’ll find one that had Sutton allowing over 50 percent of the targets in his area to be caught. And he got his hands on 15 of them, intercepting three, career-best numbers.
Free agent deals aren’t official until there’s a signed contract submitted to and approved by the league, but barring the unforeseen, Sutton will have earned himself a nice chunk of change. Especially considering he’ll be earning not much less per season than his career earnings to his point.
I don’t know whether re-signing Sutton was Plan A, but whether it was or not, the Steelers did not bide their time. They knew that they needed another starting-caliber cornerback, not trusting to Ahkello Witherspoon for James Pierre (currently a restricted free agent), and so they agreed to terms with Patrick Peterson, a former Pro Bowler.
What comes next, I can’t say. But at least for this time I’m happy for Sutton to have seen how he has grown under the Steelers’ eyes and what he’s made of himself to now. He’s got a lot of good football ahead of him.
It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t look like that will come in the black and gold. But at the end of the day it’s a business, and we don’t have any idea if Pittsburgh was willing to offer close to what Detroit did.