Steelers Urged to ‘Bring Back’ Defender After Late-Game Heroics vs. Raiders

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers came back to beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 13-10, on December 24.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came back to beat the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Eve, 13-10, thanks to a touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens with 46 seconds left in regulation.

But cornerback Cameron Sutton played an intricate role in the final minute as well, intercepting a pass from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

Sutton intercepted a deep pass from Carr with 29 seconds left. After the pick, the Steelers ran for one first down to burn the rest of the clock.

Unsurprisingly, following the game, Steelers beat writer Nick Farabaugh of Pittsburgh Sports Now called for the team to find a way to “bring back” the 27-year-old defensive back on another contract next season.

Sutton is set to be a free agent this upcoming offseason.

Sutton’s Growth as Starting Cornerback

It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Steelers cornerbacks.

Entering Week 16, the Steelers were ranked 24th in passing yards allowed. Not only that, but a lot of the yards through the air the Pittsburgh secondary has given up this season have come on big plays.

Sutton, though, has been one of the bright spots. His late-game interception against the Raiders was his third of the season, which is a new career high. He also has a career-best 14 pass defenses along with 38 combined tackles.

Before Week 16, Pro Football Focus had Sutton as Pittsburgh’s best-graded cornerback this season. The 27-year-old has particularly excelled in coverage and run defense during 2022 according to PFF.

Against the Raiders, Sutton’s interception was a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab to essentially end the game. The Steelers picked up the official game-sealing first down on their next two running plays.

Pittsburgh sports writer Dejan Kovacevic compared Sutton’s pick to Willie Mays’ famous basket catch in the 1954 World Series.

Sutton’s interception was Pittsburgh’s third of the night against Carr. After starting the game 8-for-11 and leading the Raiders on a touchdown drive on the contest’s first possession, the Steelers held Carr to 8 of 19 passing for 130 yards with the 3 picks the rest of the night.

Sutton’s Rising Free Agency Value

The Steelers have found a way to keep Sutton previously. He signed a 2-year, $9 million deal after his rookie contract expired following the 2020 season.

But with Sutton’s rising value, his price tag is only going up.

In October, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay included Sutton on a list of players who he wrote were earning a major pay raise.

On December 5, PFF’s Brad Spielberger ranked Sutton as the No. 20 player set to be a free agent this offseason.

“Sutton’s versatility as a defensive back who can still line up in the slot when called upon provides added value for interested teams,” wrote Spielberger.

Kay projected on October 21 that Sutton would receive a 3-year contract worth $30 million.

It will be interesting to see if the Steelers offer Sutton a new deal this offseason. In addition to Sutton, safety Terrell Edmunds will also be a free agent along with fellow cornerback James Pierre.

Based on how the unit has played overall, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Steelers revamp their secondary next season. But Sutton could still be a key part of Pittsburgh’s future if the team can afford him.

Although it will likely change, Spotrac projects the Steelers to have about $13.4 million in salary cap space this upcoming offseason.

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