‘I Can’t Tell You How Bummed I Was:’ Cameron Heyward Laments Loss Of Cameron Sutton To Lions

On the latest episode of his Not Just Football podcast, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward touched upon the initial wave of the Steelers free-agent signings and also some of the players the Steelers lost. Heyward was effusive in his praise for cornerback Cameron Sutton, who signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the Detroit Lions.

“First we lost Cam Sutton. And I can’t tell you how bummed I was to see a guy like that walk out of our locker room. Cam does so much. He’s one of the smartest guys on the team. He gets guys lined up, he communicates. There’s just a hub of communication, as he likes to say, that comes from him. Detroit is getting a heck of a player and an even better person. I’m sorry to see Cam go, but that’s just the nature of the business,” Heyward said via the NFL on ESPN YouTube channel.

Sutton had primarily been a slot defender for the Steelers before 2022. Last season he spent most of his time as an outside corner, where he had a breakout season.

“Not many corners can play outside and then transfer in the slot. Cam could do it all. Even sometimes we could go more corners and he could act as a safety in some instances. Cam is just very smart and very savvy,” Heyward said. “I think wherever he was gonna go he was gonna benefit the team. We’ve been very fortunate to have a guy like Cam Sutton, who’s made big plays for us.”

The Steelers signed Patrick Peterson to replace Sutton, but the loss of Sutton stings for a team that doesn’t have much cornerback depth. With the Steelers choosing to non-tender James Pierre yesterday, the team only has Levi Wallace, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Arthur Maulet as guys who have played regular snaps on the team. Maulet shouldn’t really be counted or trusted as a cover corner, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Steelers spend an early pick on the position in the 2023 NFL Draft.

While one of the “big three” corners of Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., and Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez may not be available at the Steelers’ first-round pick at No. 17 overall, players like Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks or Alabama safety/nickel Brian Branch could be options. Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents is also a name to watch though Brents is more likely to be selected with the Steelers’ first second-round pick, No. 32 overall.

Signing Peterson to replace Sutton helps make the hole at cornerback a little bit smaller. But that only mitigates the loss of a veteran like Sutton, who knew the defense so well (he was the third-longest tenured member of the team at the time of his departure). With Sutton gone, Peterson and Wallace are going to have to step up as leaders in the secondary and a cornerback group that doesn’t have a lot of experience in Pittsburgh.

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