Newly-promoted Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan has had a busy offseason. He got contract extensions done with three key players in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, receiver Diontae Johnson and kicker Chris Boswell.
But Khan might not be done handing out contract extensions this offseason.
Gerry Dulac, who covers the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, said the front office could be considering an extension for veteran cornerback Cam Sutton.
“Sutton is a very real possibility,” Gerry Dulac wrote in an August 24 chat. “In fact, he’s the only player they will consider extending before the start of the regular season.”
Sutton, 27, saw increased playing time the last two seasons. After being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft, Sutton worked as a rotational player until logging 99 percent of defensive snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.
The attraction to Sutton is his versatility and smarts, values to Mike Tomlin who loves athletes who can play all over. While he’s spent most of his time at wide (1223 snaps), Sutton has also played in the slot (740 snaps), box (357 snaps) and even some at free safety (65) snaps.
Historically, contract extensions are off-limits once the ball is kicked off Week 1. While that could change under the new regime, it’s doubtful. If the two parties don’t get something done before September 11 — which Sutton doesn’t expect they will — he could be a priority once February rolls around.
Cam Sutton aside, the Pittsburgh Steelers are woefully inept at drafting cornerbacks. General manager Kevin Colbert wasted picks on corners twice in consecutive NFL drafts with Senquez Golson and Doran Grant (2015) and Artie Burns and Sean Davis (2016). It’s been nearly two decades since Pittsburgh last had luck landing a solid talent at the position. You’d have to go all the way back to Ike Taylor in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft.
Extending Sutton before he gets a taste of free agency in March 2023 would be a step toward stabilizing the DB unit. Still, there’s a lot of work to be done. Levi Wallace, signed by the Steelers this offseason, carries a 2.4 percent cap hit at $5.48 million (salary and bonus) in 2023, according to Over The Cap. This season will tell whether that’s a good deal or not.
Ahkello Witherspoon, acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks last season, has an identical contract structure to Wallace. Wallace, Witherspoon and Arthur Maulet are all currently set to hit the free agent market after next season.
2023 Cornerback Class
The 2023 cornerback class is impressively deep (though the 2022 class may have spoiled it), but if the Pittsburgh Steelers dare use a top-round pick on one, a familiar name could be there for the taking.
Porter plays with tremendous physicality — just like his dad — but some fear if he doesn’t clean up his technique, it could hurt at the pro level.
In all, Porter has drawn 13 penalties, including one which set up a score for the opposition in the September 1 matchup versus Purdue.
But Porter’s size, strength, starting experience, and, of course, bloodlines are all traits attractive to the Steelers. At 6’2″, 192 pounds, Porter is one of the longest corners of his classmates.
The 2022 season hasn’t even kicked off yet, but we know that the team has more pressing needs to address. It’s expected Pittsburgh will use its top two to three selections on offensive and defensive linemen.
Then again, the Steelers don’t always do what’s expected.