‘Feels Like an Omar Khan L’ as Lions Poach Steelers’ Top Ranked UFA: Report

Mike Tomlin

Dylan Buell/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts from the sideline on November 28, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping to re-sign versatile cornerback Cam Sutton to a new contract, but that isn’t happening. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the former Steelers 3rd-round pick has agreed to a three-year contract with the Detroit Lions worth $33 million, with $22.5 million guaranteed.

Recall that on Feb. 28, 2023, Steelers general manager Omar Khan indicated that the team was interested in re-signing Sutton to what would have been his third contract with the team.

“We love … we think very highly of Cam and conversations have commenced and we’ll see where it goes,” said Khan, sounding not overly optimistic about the chances of re-signing the 28-year-old Jonesboro, Ga. native, who has been with the Steelers since the team drafted him in the 3rd-round (No. 94 overall) in 2017 out of Tennessee.

After his rookie contract expired in 2020, Sutton re-upped with the Steelers on a new two-year deal that paid him $9 million over the course of two seasons, as per overthecap.com.

Pro Football Focus rated Sutton as Pittsburgh’s highest ranked unrestricted free agent for 2023 (No. 23 overall).

Steelers Nation Reacts to the Loss of Cam Sutton in Free Agency

As to the news, Mike Nicastro of YinzerCrazy.com said that losing Cam Sutton “feels like an Omar Khan L but you can’t fully evaluate it until you see what’s up his sleeve.”

Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV said he feels like the contract terms offered by Detroit were “manageable.” That is, the Steelers could have ponied up the same money.

Daniel Valente, Football Editor at The Score, agreed, tweeting: “Hard not to feel bummed that Cam Sutton is leaving Pittsburgh after a career year,” especially since the “money is not even that crazy.”

Meanwhile, Noah Strackbein, who covers the Steelers for si.com, argued that “The Steelers shouldn’t have let Cam Sutton go for $11 million per season. For the last six years, they’ve done nothing but praise him. You have to be able to keep your middle-ground stars, not just your big names. Especially when they’re affordable.”

Yet Sutton’s departure was forseeable. On Mar. 12, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN indicated that the Raiders and Lions were both strong suitors. As were the Vikings, who now employ former Steelers assistant Brian Flores as their defensive coordinator.

What Are the Lions Getting in Cam Sutton?

Now the Steelers are going to have to try to compensate for the loss of an experienced, scheme versatile cornerback who can play on the boundary or in the slot. As noted by ESPN writer/analyst Matt Bowen, Sutton had three interceptions and 15 pass breakups in 2022.

The aforementioned Daniel Valente called him “a big piece to replace.”

And The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly reminds us that “Every single player, coach, front office guy on the Steelers say the same thing about Cam Sutton — smartest player on the field.”

Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh describes Sutton much the same way, calling him “a really versatile, smart player” and one who “could be a coach one day.”

In his six seasons with the Steelers, Sutton appeared in 84 games (with 39 starts) and recorded 168 total tackles (143 solo), including eight tackles for loss, eight interceptions, 38 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, three quarterback hits and two sacks, as per Pro Football Reference.