Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes identified a great fit in former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton in free agency and aggressively pursued him. In fact, Holmes and the Lions were the first team to reach out to Sutton when the legal tampering period began early this week.
"When it was time to really get things going, Detroit came strong," Sutton said Thursday at his introductory press conference.
"We're close. This organization is ready to turn a hump. We're here to play. We're not here just to show up and be in the building and say we're a part of this league. We're ready to leave our mark. We're right there."
Go behind the scenes with the Detroit Lions during 2023 free agency.
Sutton liked the culture and what he saw being built under Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell from afar and looked at Detroit as a young, hungry team looking to take the next step, and he thinks he can help get them there.
Sutton, 28, spent his first six seasons in Pittsburgh and the last two as a full-time starter for the Steelers. One of the top cornerbacks in free agency this offseason, Sutton earned a 70-plus coverage grade and allowed just 411 receiving yards – the ninth fewest among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps – in his coverage area this past season. Opposing passers completed just 47.9 percent of their passes in his coverage area with a 65.3 rating, per Pro Football Reference stats.
He's also a versatile player, something he says he takes great pride in. Sutton has played some safety, outside corner and nickel corner over his years with the Steelers.
Sutton posted the best season of his six-year career in 2022, recording a career-high three interceptions and breaking up 15 passes, tied for the fifth most in the NFL last season.
He now becomes a veteran voice in what's still a pretty young Lions secondary, joining Jeff Okudah, Jerry Jacobs, Will Harris and Tracy Walker. This secondary needs to take a big leap forward in production for this defense to take the next step, and Sutton is expected to help make that happen.
"We're a younger group and just being that presence of being in a lead role," Sutton said. "Really embracing that and I'll never shy away from that. That's something that's always been part of my DNA in every stage of my life. I think I might be the oldest in the room and I wouldn't even say I'm old."
Sutton is a physical and versatile corner who isn't afraid to tackle and play the run, which is a prerequisite to play in Aaron Glenn's defense. The Lions identified him as a priority to start free agency, and they got their man.
"I'm a big guy on stability and just family," Sutton said. "You foresee certain things for yourself and projections for your life and for this game ... the pitch for myself was just seeing the opportunity for myself.
"Detroit was really the first team to hit me up ... and it made sense. Made sense for my family. It made sense for my game."