The Detroit Lions took an early huge step to address the biggest need they have, agreeing to terms with cornerback Cameron Sutton.
Cornerback is unequivocally the biggest need the Detroit Lions have as free agency gets rolling, and some turnover is coming with multiple internal free agents. On Monday they took a big step toward addressing the need. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Lions are signing cornerback Cameron Sutton to a three-year, $33 million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed.
Sutton spent his first six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who took him in the third round of the 2017 draft. He stepped into a much larger role the last two seasons, starting 31 games and playing over 930 snaps in each.
Last season, according to Pro Football Reference, Sutton allowed just a 47.9 percent completion rate and a 65.3 passer rating in his coverage. He had three interceptions and 15 pass breakups as well.
Pro Football Focus has also been complementary of his work, and writer Brad Spielberger tabbed him as a fit for the Lions all the way back in January.
"Sutton earned a career-best 72.2 grade as a full-time starter in 2022, allowing just 0.76 yards per coverage snap, good for 11th among cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps on the season. He offers inside/outside versatility as well, though he’s been a starter on the outside the last two seasons."
Also per PFF, Sutton allowed the ninth-fewest receiving yards in his coverage last season (411, minimum 400 snaps).
The metrics can be different based on the source, but NFL Next Gen Stats further confirmed how good Sutton is.
Cameron Sutton is huge step to bolstering the Detroit Lions pass defense
If there’s a knock on Sutton it would probably be his size–5-foot-11, 188 pounds. But he is versatile, and able to play inside and outside. And while it may be a little bit eye-rolling, he stepped up when opportunity finally knocked his last two seasons in Pittsburgh.
Sutton was widely regarded as one of the best free agent cornerbacks in this year’s class, and he made our own list of five cornerbacks the Lions should target heading into free agency.
It made sense for the biggest free agent splash thus far in Brad Holmes’ tenure as general manager to be a cornerback this offseason once the negotiation window opened. Their choice was Sutton, and he might only be the first notable move to fortify the cornerback depth chart.