clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ESPN predicts the Steelers will part ways with several players to retain Cam Sutton

The Pittsburgh Steelers know the value Cam Sutton brings, and an ESPN expert is predicting the team will make moves to keep him.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers value Cameron Sutton, there is no denying that simple fact. If they didn’t value him they wouldn’t have given him a 2-year contract before he hit the open market after his rookie contract expired.

Now, with that 2-year deal expired, the team is forced with a difficult decision. Create salary cap space to retain Sutton, or let him test the free agent waters. Sutton openly talked about testing those aforementioned waters after the season came to an end following Week 18.

“I don’t even know anything about that process right now.” Sutton said when reflecting back on how he signed his last contract with the Steelers. “We’ll see what that looks like. I feel like we should still be playing ball right now, in the sense of that. So, I’m not even in that mind state of even really looking into that, to be honest. That’ll come up whenever it does I think whenever that process starts, March or something like that. We’ll go from there.”

Sutton might not sign a contract before the start of free agency again, but if he has a fair deal from the Steelers he’d like to stay.

“For sure. This is home.” Sutton said when asked if he’d like to remain with the Steelers. “This has been home to me since the beginning. There’s a strong foundation and it’s just really solid here. A lot of love for all the aspects here and the city as a whole. Like I said, we’ll see what that looks like obviously when the opportunity comes.”

Among the Steelers fan base, many are debating on what the team should do as it pertains to Sutton. Some say they should keep him, while others feel the cost would be too much for a team who would have to make moves in order retain someone like Sutton.

Nonetheless, when ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicted offseason transactions which will improve all 32 teams, he has the Steelers doing just that to keep Sutton in the fold.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Release several players to keep Cameron Sutton.

While the Browns will restructure their quarterback’s deal to create cap space, the Steelers need to move on from several veterans to generate room on their roster. With Pittsburgh essentially at the salary cap, it can create space by moving on from cornerbacks William Jackson III and Ahkello Witherspoon, along with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Those three cuts would create a little more than $24 million in space. It has plenty of flexibility if it wants to create more room in targeting linebacker Myles Jack and offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, but it would be a surprise if any of the three players mentioned before returned on their current deals.

I’d like to see the Steelers use those savings to bring back Sutton, their top corner from a year ago. He is a 2017 third-round pick who only broke into the starting lineup for good during his fifth year with the team, but 2022 was his best season. He allowed a 56.7 passer rating as the nearest defender in coverage at cornerback, per NFL Next Gen Stats, which ranked as the fifth-best mark for corners with at least 250 coverage snaps. The Steelers almost always played sides at corner, so Sutton wasn’t chasing around opposing top wideouts, but the 28-year-old more than held his own on the right side of the defense.

Sutton’s unique career path makes his market difficult to forecast, but we’ve seen corners with limited track records as above-average starters get paid in recent seasons. I’d look toward the three-year, $33 million deal D.J. Reed signed with the Jets last offseason as a baseline for Sutton, but I would expect Sutton’s new deal to come in closer to $14 million per season, given his level of play a year ago and the rise in the salary cap. With second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett on his rookie contract, the team should be able to afford a new deal for their top corner.

As stated earlier, there will be several members of the Steelers fan base who will bemoan the thought of paying Sutton, who many believe is nothing more than a CB2, a lucrative contract. However, at the same time having a proven, and versatile, veteran commodity in the back end of the secondary will provide a massive amount of value to a defense riddle with holes entering the 2023 league year.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.