While the Pittsburgh Steelers made a bunch of signings to fill roster holes, they also lost some players, which will have a big impact on the future of the team. One of those players the Steelers lost in free agency was cornerback Cameron Sutton.
Sutton played in Pittsburgh from 2017-2022, playing both slot and outside cornerback and becoming an integral part of the defense in his past couple of seasons due to his ability to move around. He signed a three-year deal with Detroit Lions last week, leaving a hole at cornerback for Pittsburgh.
To fill this hole, the Steelers signed Patrick Peterson to a two-year deal, but this doesn’t erase the loss of the versatile Sutton.
Today, Brad Spielberger of PFF listed Sutton as the Steelers’ biggest loss in free agency.
“Sutton earned a career-best 72.2 grade in 2022, allowing just 0.76 yards per coverage snap, which ranked 11th among cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps on the season,” wrote Spielberger. “After a strong free agency period for Pittsburgh elsewhere along the roster, particularly along the offensive line and in the front seven, cornerback remains the Steelers’ top need by a solid margin.”
Losing Sutton hurts as an average cornerback room got worse because of it. While Peterson is a good signing as he can play outside which fills a need, he is 32 years old and has lost some of the speed that he used to have. Pittsburgh will have to address their cornerback room come the NFL Draft, and luckily for the Steelers this year’s cornerback class is deep.
At pick 17 the Steelers may have a chance to draft Joey Porter Jr. out of Penn State, or if they get lucky Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez or Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon will fall to them. If none of the top three corners fall to 17, the Steelers can still grab a good cornerback in the likes of Maryland’s Deonte Banks or Kansas State’s Julius Brents at pick 32 or 49.
While bringing in a rookie cornerback will certainly help, Pittsburgh will look to add an outside cornerback, not a slot cornerback. While Sutton played in the slot most of his career, the past two seasons he played outside. His ability to do both is something that will be hard to replicate and his versatility on defense won’t be easily filled.
A top rookie cornerback plus Peterson is certainly good and will improve the cornerback room. But the impact Sutton had due to his versatility still might not be able to be filled this season.