Steelers lose CB Cameron Sutton to the Lions in free agency

Steelers, Cameron Sutton
Steelers, Cameron Sutton / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The start of the 2023 free agency period is going to prove to be a rough time for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. The NFL's legal tampering period kicked off on March 13th, and less than two hours into free agency, cornerback Cameron Sutton has jumped ship.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirms that Sutton has inked a three-year, $33 million deal with the Detroit Lions. This contract came in much higher than Spotrac's projection that estimated Sutton would earn $7.6 million in new annual money.

After the best season of his career in Pittsburgh, Sutton breaks the bank with an excellent contract with the Lions. Sadly, the Steelers just lost their best and most consistent cornerback, and there are many questions that need to be answered.

Steelers must seek CB help after losing Cameron Sutton

Sutton was supposedly the top priority of the Steelers this offseason, but it would have been very hard for Pittsburgh to match this contract given their current salary cap situation. Sitting at just $10.4 million above the cap, Omar Khan would have had to backload a massive deal for Sutton in order to make this work or hope that he lasted longer in free agency.

Sadly, Pittsburgh's CB1 is now gone, and the team is left in shambles at the position. Levi Wallace is a low-end starter, while Ahkello Witherspoon looked rough in the few games he played last year before landing on IR.

What's worse is that the Steelers don't have a single developmental candidate to look forward to on the roster. After losing Sutton, Pittsburgh needs to get serious about finding a replacement, and they can't wait until the NFL Draft to do so.

Though I would fully expect the Steelers to be in the market for CB in round one this April, they are going to need a lot more help than that, and they don't want to pigeonhole themselves to one particular position in case the board doesn't lay out well for them.

3 reasons the Steelers should avoid taking a WR in the NFL Draft. dark. Next

This one stings... a lot. Sutton was probably one of the top 5-6 players on the roster last season, and his impact was felt. In recent years, the Steelers have lost both Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton -- two versatile cornerbacks who really offered a spark. Let's hope they can find a way to replace Sutton soon.