Steelers Cameron Sutton has a huge opportunity in Monday start

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) and cornerback Mike Hilton (28) Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) and cornerback Mike Hilton (28) Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

With injuries at CB, a Steelers depth player has a chance to increase his offseason value

With veteran starter Steven Nelson sitting out of the Steelers’ upcoming match with the Washington Football Team. According to Gary Dulac, Cameron Sutton will start in his place on the outside.

This is a huge opportunity for Sutton for a variety of reasons. For starters, Sutton has typically played the role of safety in dime defense, allowing for Terrell Edmunds to move up closer to the line as a dime backer. Also, Sutton has been the primary backup slot corner and saw considerable playing time while Mike Hilton was down with an injury.

He has performed well in that role so far and has produced some notable stats while serving in said role. He has been credited for allowing a score, but he is only giving up a quarterback rating of 83.7 when being targeted. While not the best numbers ever, they are beyond solid for a slot cornerback, and are on par with Hilton’s numbers from the past few seasons, and are slightly better than his current rating he is allowing (93.0).

This outside opportunity is huge

Sutton has performed well when called upon in the slot, but his filling in for Nelson will allow him to play heavily on the outside. This requires a vastly different skillset from the slot position, and it also dictates a vastly different pay rate. For reference, the top-earning outside corner currently is Jalen Ramsey, who earns 20 million dollars a year. The top-earning slot corner is Kenny Moore, who earns just over 8.25 million a year.

That drop off in money is huge, which makes this game that much more important. With his contract set to expire this offseason, Sutton has already shown that he is an accomplished slot corner. If he plays well on the outside this week, he will likely boost his potential earnings on a new contract. Looking more specifically at the Steelers, they could potentially lock Sutton up on a long-term deal, start him in the slot next year, and look to move him to the outside down the road.

Finally, this is seemingly a knock-on fellow backup cornerback Justin Layne. The Steelers took Layne in the third round of the draft last year, and despite his athletic ability and great size, he has struggled to find the field outside of special teams. He saw some playing time from week 6-11, but he obviously didn’t impress. Just to note, despite the limited playing time, Layne is allowing a quarterback rating of 106.7 when being targeted.

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The Steelers clearly see Sutton as a versatile piece in this secondary, and now, the rest of the league has a chance to see what he can do as a true outside starter. If he performs well, he could see a major boost on his contract this offseason. No matter what, he is a player the Steelers need to focus on resigning him at the end of this season.