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The Steelers re-signing Cam Sutton never made sense for multiple reasons

The NFL handed down its decision on Monday regarding the punishment for Steelers defensive back Cam Sutton stemming from a domestic violence incident he was involved in in Tampa, Florida, on March 7.

Sutton will be suspended for the first eight games of the 2024 regular season. The veteran waived his right to appeal, so there is no chance for the punishment to be reduced.

That, right there, is pretty telling.

If even half of what Sutton was accused of in the affidavit is true, I’m surprised the Steelers even thought about re-signing him. And not because of how it would possibly affect them and their secondary this coming season, but because of how bad it would look from a public relations standpoint.

I said nothing when the Steelers re-signed Sutton in early June because it never felt right to me. For one thing, how could anyone celebrate the re-signing of someone who was accused of such heinous things by a woman–his life partner? Not to sound overly self-righteous, but that’s just a hard guy to root for. Yes, I know, it was his first offense, and he had never previously shown even a hint of that kind of behavior, both personally and professionally, but still…Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done and compare it to the stuff listed in the affidavit that is available for public consumption courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times. 

The accusations against Sutton were bad enough that the Lions, his former employer who signed him to a three-year, $33 million deal–including $21 million guaranteed–last offseason, didn’t waste any time in releasing him when this news broke. Sure, this may have had more to do with the fact that Sutton, who was at the Lions’ facilities when team officials informed him that there was a warrant issued for his arrest and asked him to stay and wait for authorities, quickly fled the scene and went missing for several days, but it still says a lot that they were not willing to allow the legal system to run its course.

As far as the football side of things–believe me, I do feel weird talking about this–the Steelers’ decision to re-sign Sutton just never made any sense.

Pittsburgh had to know that Sutton would receive a lengthy suspension. You combine those accusations with the fact that he evaded authorities and went radio silent for so long that folks were legit worried about his well-being, an eight-game suspension seemed like the minimum.

While others were expecting a shorter suspension, I was anticipating an entire season if not a full-time ban.

I realize you can’t just banish someone from ever working again–especially after that person ultimately pled down to a misdemeanor and received no jail time (conditionally, of course)–but what about an unofficial ban? In other words, a colluded effort to make sure Sutton never played for another NFL team.

OK, that’s a matter of opinion. Everyone deserves a second chance, but why do the Steelers have to be the one to give Sutton his? What good will he do them in 2024 if he misses almost half the season? The Steelers had a glaring need at defensive back–particularly, slot corner–prior to their reunion with Sutton, who they selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and it is back to being just as glaring as it was the day before they re-signed him.

Did general manager Omar Khan think this whole thing through? Maybe it wasn’t his decision; perhaps, it was head coach Mike Tomlin who decided that Sutton wasn’t as bad as the person described in that affidavit.

No matter whose decision it was, again, how did anyone think this would help the Steelers? Not only do they now carry the stigma of re-signing a player who pled guilty to domestic violence, but he won’t be able to help them on the field until after the bye.

So, in light of the Sutton suspension, the Steelers will likely have to go out and sign another free-agent defensive back to help fill the void at slot corner.

Which begs the question: Why didn’t they just do that in the first place?


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