The New York Giants cornerback room was thin throughout the 2022 season. Big Blue had to release starting cornerback James Bradberry before the season, and he was subsequently scooped up by the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. Bradberry’s departure left a void in one of the two starting positions at outside cornerback.
Giants’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale suffered through a slew of injuries at the position. Third-round pick Cor’dale Flott struggled with a calf injury at the beginning of the season, and second-year projected starter Aaron Robinson played two games, separated by two injuries: an appendectomy and then a season-ending knee injury.
Luckily for Martindale, there were competent NFL players among the ranks of Door Dash employees. GM Joe Schoen signed Fabian Moreau at the beginning of the season and claimed CB Nick McCloud off waivers from the Bills. Both were admirable additions to the defense.
The depth issue plaguing the Giants' cornerback room was compounded midseason when Adoree’ Jackson injured his knee returning punts. Jackson’s injury was suffered two weeks after the Giants lost starting safety, and defensive signal caller, Xavier McKinney, so the backend communication was fallible.
The slot play from Darnay Holmes was also inconsistent in coverage. He was tied for the second-most penalized cornerback in the NFL during the 2022 season, and he had the third-lowest Pro Football Focus defensive grade of cornerbacks that played at least 20 percent of their teams snaps. Holmes is entering his final contract year.
The Giants could use help in either the slot or at outside cornerback. Finding a player who could play both isn’t easy, but Cameron Sutton proved his versatility through six seasons in Pittsburgh.
Age: 28 in the 2023 season
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 188
Experience: 6 seasons
2022 stats: Games: 16 | Tackles: (37) | Tackles for a loss: (1) | Stops: (15) | Pressures (2) | Interceptions: (3) | Passes defended: (8) | Touchdowns Surrendered: (4) | Reception percentage: (50.7 percent) | Missed tackles (7, 14 percent)
Sutton is a solid starting cornerback who was a third-round pick out of Tennessee by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. Pittsburgh re-signed Sutton to a two-year, $9 million contract after his rookie deal expired. He can play inside or outside.
Sutton has played 1,846 snaps at outside cornerback and 906 in the slot; in 2020, he proved his ability to handle outside responsibilities, which may have led to his extension. He’s played 1,439 snaps on the outside over the last two seasons and has done so in a solid manner.
Sutton had some hamstring issues in 2017, and he missed one game with a sore hamstring in 2022, but he hasn’t suffered catastrophic injuries; he also had a nagging groin injury that he played through in 2022.
He’s a slightly undersized cornerback who can play man or zone coverage. He’s pesky, competitive, and productive. Sutton has eight career interceptions, and 23 passes defended; he’s had five interceptions over the last two seasons, which coincides with his transition to the outside. Here is one of his interceptions from 2022, but from the slot:
Sutton’s ball skills and ability to pluck the football out of the air, with strong hands, are impressive considering he has third percentile hand size:
He had impressive tape at Tennessee, but sub-par measurements and an underwhelming combine dropped him to pick No. 94. He’s a good football player, despite what the testing suggests. Sutton’s defensive performance against Brian Daboll’s 2021 Bills team in Week 1 was a reason Pittsburgh pulled off the 23-16 upset.
safe to say cam sutton is becoming a star, but we all knew that here pic.twitter.com/J7ABfteVnK— matt (@yinzzzerr) September 14, 2021
It appears like he diagnoses and attacks downhill similar to Holmes with much better slot coverage ability and ball skills. He has only seven penalties throughout his career - Holmes had more in 2022 alone.
I’m not sure if the Giants could afford Sutton. There are a lot of decisions that must be made for the players in-house, but Sutton would bring a physical, competent, veteran presence to a young cornerback room with much to prove.
Spotrac.com has Sutton earning $7.6 million per year on a three-year deal ($22.9 million total). That would put him in the same range as players like the Chargers’ Michael Davis, and it seems low. New York may not be in the best position to invest another free agent contract into its cornerback room, but Sutton would be a player who interests me if they decided to explore the market.