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Cam Sutton Gets Another Chance to Show Steelers He Should Be Re-Signed

Cameron Sutton is trying to build his resume before the Pittsburgh Steelers have decisions to make this offseason.

In their wildcard matchup with the Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without cornerback Joe Haden. 

Though he's a big loss, the team's defense shouldn't take a major step back without Haden on the field. 

First, the Browns' path to victory involves them running the ball. Second, and more importantly, Cameron Sutton is a phenomenal backup and seems to turn in a great performance every time his number is called. He'll be a free agent this offseason, and Sunday night's game will be yet another opportunity for Sutton to earn himself a big contract, whether with Pittsburgh or elsewhere. 

So far this year, Sutton hasn't squandered his opportunities.

What makes Sutton such a desirable player to any defense is his versatility and awareness. He is one of the smartest players on the Steelers defense and very rarely will be involved in miscommunications or coverage busts. 

To go with his high football IQ, Sutton can play multiple positions on defense. Most of his work has come in the slot because Haden and Steven Nelson lock down the outside. But when either of those players have missed games, Sutton has stepped into their role and performed just fine. 

Sutton is strong in coverage and solid in run support. He can match up with receivers out wide or in the slot, athletic tight ends, and even running backs in space if needed.

Though Cam Sutton's abilities have flown under the radar in previous years due to a lack of snaps, the Steelers haven't been able to hide him this year. The defense clearly benefits from him being on the field, so he has seen, by far, a career-high in snaps. 

Pittsburgh finally had to let the cat out of the bag. Sutton is now on many teams' radars, and he has played his way into a nice contract in the offseason. The worry is that Pittsburgh might not be able to afford him.

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With Mike Hilton also set to be a free agent in the offseason, there's a clear salary cap problem with regards to him and Sutton. The team will already have a cap nightmare on their hands. After T.J. Watt's mega-extension that is coming, many key guys will need to be released or re-signed. In this scenario, it's hard to see the team paying up for two slot cornerbacks, Hilton and Sutton. 

Previous years likely pointed to Sutton being the one to be brought back since he was expected to be cheaper. After this season, though, that may not be the case.

So what should the Steelers do? If I was the general manager, and I had to pick just one, I'd go with Sutton. His versatility is a different kind of versatility that Hilton possesses. Hilton is much better as a blitzer and in run support, but Hilton isn't a guy that can line up at safety, and surely not outside cornerback, the way Sutton can. 

In today's NFL, coverage corners and pass rushers are the two most important positions on any defense. Hilton is a fan favorite and it would be disheartening to see him go, but it's a real possibility.

There is a scenario that could see both Hilton and Sutton brought back to Pittsburgh, though it's one that Steelers fans probably won't like. Don't downplay the potential for Joe Haden to be cut in the offseason. As previously stated, there are going to be some tough decisions that need to be made by the Steelers front office. Especially if they want to try to keep guys like Bud Dupree (extremely unlikely) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (slightly more likely), some big contracts will have to come off the books. 

Though still very good, Haden has slowed down a bit this year and isn't getting any younger. If the team were to cut Haden, they could potentially keep both Sutton and Hilton, with Hilton remaining the nickel cornerback and Sutton replacing Haden full time on the outside.

Sunday's game is just one more chance for Sutton to firmly establish himself as deserving of a lucrative contract. So far, he hasn't blown his chances. There's no doubt that, based on his play this year, Pittsburgh will want to sign him to a long-term contract. The likelihood of that depends on what they do with some other big-name free agents. 

Just in case he would leave, Steelers fans should be sure to enjoy this postseason with Cam Sutton. It could be the last we see him play in a Steelers uniform. 

Connor Deitrich is a Contributor with AllSteelers. Follow Connor on Twitter @CDeitrich22, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.