When the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing for the offseason, they knew certain aspects would take place. They knew there was no way the salary cap would stay the same, at $198.2 million, and they also knew they would be unable to keep all of their Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs).
After the NFL announced the salary cap would dip for the first time in league history, more certainties became known to the Steelers. Most importantly was how there would be cap causalities.
Two players were let go due to their cap savings, Steven Nelson and Vince Williams, and after Williams chose to return on a veteran minimum deal, it left a gaping hole at the cornerback position.
The Steelers didn’t blink when free agency began, and chose to sign Cam Sutton to a new contract. Not Mike Hilton, but Sutton. With mandatory minicamp now in the books, it was Joe Haden who spoke to the media and talked about how confident he is in Sutton to not just fill the void, but to make the defense better.
“Cam Sutton is going to be able to thrive on the outside corner. He is a great nickel and outside guy. He is going to be a solid corner starter in the league.” Haden said during minicamp.
The one thing about Sutton is his versatility. He has literally done it all as a defensive back since being drafted out of Tennessee. He has played outside, the nickel and the dime backer role.
“It’s a different ball game on the inside,” said Haden. “Those little slot receivers, the route trees are totally different. Just timing and stuff like that. Cam Sutton, that is what he does. He is a great inside and outside guy. I am more of an outside guy. Cam is able to play both at such a high level. He is able to go inside and outside. Cam is a Swiss Army knife. He can do a little bit of everything.”
When asked if he would like to throw his hat in the ring to fill the vacancy in the slot, Haden wasted little time answering.
“I don’t want no parts of the slot,” laughed Haden.
Don’t get these messages mixed up. Haden knows he could play the slot, but at this stage in his career it would be a lot for him.
“I can do it,” said Haden. “The studying, it’s just a lot harder when you are playing the nickel back position. We have a lot of defenses. on the outside corner it’s more basic. On the inside there are so many different calls. It’s a lot. Cam did a really good job. He knows the entire defense. He knows what is going on. And being able to cover those smaller quicker dudes, you have to be very, very quick. That is just what he does.”
Speaking of Haden’s career, he recognizes where he is on the spectrum of an NFL career. Haden has become an avid golfer over the years, and it is safe to say he is on the ‘back nine’ of his playing career. He also understands what it takes to continue to be successful, up until the day he calls it a career.
“Getting older I just have to keep my speed,” said Haden. “It’s less lifting weights, it’s more conditioning, training, running, keeping that speed. That is the first thing that goes when you get older as a corner is the speed. If you can’t keep up with those dudes, that’s what starts to get your game out of there. Above the neck I am so much smarter, I just work on keeping my speed up.”
When you think back to training camp in 2020, it was Haden who told the world to watch out for Chase Claypool. He was right. Let’s hope he is right about Cam Sutton as well. You never know, we might be lauding the Steelers’ front office when all is said and done.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.