Should Steelers CB Cameron Sutton start vs. Colts over a struggling Joe Haden?

Tommy Jaggi
Cameron Sutton #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Cameron Sutton #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Joe Haden has been struggling to stop receivers this sesaon. Should third-year cornerback Cameron Sutton be given a chance to start for the Steelers?

The Pittsburgh Steelers handed cornerback Joe Haden a new contract this offseason. So far in 2019, the former 2-time Pro Bowler hasn’t been worth his wages. At 30 years old, the Steelers brass gave Haden a $33.9 million extension that locks him up until after the 2021 sesaon.

However, with the way Haden has played so far, are they even going to want him around that long?

Haden was getting beat early and often against Miami Dolphins receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams in the first half of the Steelers Monday night showdown. Miami is a team that has been struggling in every phase of the game, but somehow, Haden managed to let their offense move the ball down the field on him.

With just a 59.1 overall grade on the sesaon from Pro Football Focus, Joe Haden is the 69th rated cornerback in the league among all qualifying players.

We have seen how quickly many cornerbacks digress when they reach their 30’s, so I was skeptical when the Steelers offered him this deal. Darrelle Revis is a perfect example of this. Though he was a tremendous football player in his prime, he hit a steep decline in play by age 31. In 2017, the former All-Pro played in just 5 games at the age of 32 before retiring.

While Joe Haden is struggling, Cameron Sutton continues to impress. The 24-year old cornerback has been rock-solid in coverage when called upon, and he is not afraid to come up and put his body on the line against the run.

Unlike Haden, Sutton has an overwhelmingly positive PFF grade of 87.3 on the sesaon. This would be good for the 3rd best grade in the league if he qualified with enough snaps.

Because of Haden’s struggles, Sutton should be given a chance to showcase his abilities in a larger capacity on defense. The former Tennessee cornerback has seen his snaps increase in recent weeks. Against the Chargers in week 6, Sutton managed 3 pass defenses and an interception in just 31 defensive snaps (50 percent).

The Steelers know the investment they have placed in Joe Haden, and he is unlikely to lose his job anytime soon – no matter how bad he struggles. Still, Sutton has made major strides since entering the league as a former 3rd round draft choice in 2017.

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I’m not suggesting that the Steelers stop playing Joe Haden altogether, but Sutton has been phenomenal with his opportunities so far. Perhaps he should be given a chance to start opposite of Steven Nelson when the Steelers face the Colts.