Cameron Sutton can begin speaking to other teams today with the opening of the ‘tampering window’ a couple days shy of the official start of the new league year. It will be a career first for the sixth-year veteran to get some first-hand accounts of what his market actually looks like.
Coming off a career year as a full-time outside starter for the Steelers last season, Sutton’s free agency comes at a suitable time after playing out a two-year, $9 million contract. He’ll likely earn more than that per season on his next deal—maybe too much for Pittsburgh to keep him.
“It’s sounding like Cam Sutton might not return to Pittsburgh”, former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, now in the media, told Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller on 93.7 The Fan on Friday. “That’s what I’m hearing. I’m not saying that Pittsburgh won’t try to bring him back, but I’m hearing that there might be a few other teams willing to give him more than what Pittsburgh might be willing to offer”.
This isn’t necessarily breaking news, as we’ve largely known for some time now that he should find a reasonably favorable market. The Steelers are on record as expressing the desire to retain him, but when it comes time to put ink to paper, it’s less certain whose letterhead Sutton will be signing.
Wherever he lands, McFadden seems to believe that Sutton will merely be getting what he deserves. He told his hosts that he believes Sutton is a top-20 cornerback in the NFL, though he stopped shy of putting him in the top 10. “Easily top 20, no question”, McFadden said, also expressing his believe that “(Sutton) can be” a No. 1 corner.
“I think he’s real good. What he did last year was something that many people thought they would see early on”, he said, “but he dealt with injuries, moved around a lot in the secondary, but he really found his comfort zone a year ago”.
The former third-round pick out of Tennessee recorded three interceptions last season with 15 passes defensed, more than he had in the previous two seasons combined. He allowed under 50 percent of the passes thrown in his target area to be completed, although he did give up some touchdowns as nearly every starting cornerback does every year.
Sutton might not be among the very best of the best, but if he were, we would be talking about $20 million contracts per season rather than half that. At the moment, there are 19 cornerbacks making at least eight figures per season.
That should easily hit 20 with this free agency period, and with future extensions along the way later this offseason. What we know for sure is that the Steelers would have a major hole to fill if they lose Sutton. McFadden seems to believe they would need to fill it with another veteran if so.