Decked out in new Lions gear -- a black flat-brim, a blue T-shirt -- Cam Sutton took the first question at his introductory press conference Thursday in Allen Park and didn't stop talking for more than five minutes. When he finally did, he smiled and said, "Ready to go win some games."
Think he's excited to be in Detroit? The Lions are more than excited to have him. The biggest signing of the Brad Holmes-Dan Campbell era, Sutton is here to fill the biggest hole in Aaron Glenn's defense. He's getting $33 million over the next three years to put the clamps on opposing receivers and to help put the Lions on the map. They were the first team to hit him up in free agency, he said, "and they came strong, man."
Sutton, who put himself on the map over six seasons with the Steelers, couldn't say no.
"Top down from the organization, Ms. Sheila (Ford Hamp), Mr. Holmes, D.C., they all have a vision," Sutton said. "They all carry themselves in a manner that I’ve been around this game enough to appreciate and know that they’re doing the right things, they’re bringing the right people in the building. We’re close, the organization is ready to turn the hump.
"Regardless of what you may see or what you may think, we’re here to play. We’re not here just to show up and be in the building and just say we’re a part of this league. We’re here to leave our mark."
In a deep cornerback market, the Lions didn't mess around. They went and got one of the best players available, a season after allowing the second most yard per pass and the most yards per completion in the NFL. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 94.2 against Detroit's defense last year. Against Sutton, they had a rating of 69.6, per PFF. He had a career-high 15 passes defended, sixth most in the NFL.
At age 28, Sutton will tell you he's still getting better. If so, the Lions will wind up with a bargain at a position where salaries continue to grow. When he sizes up his new situation, Sutton sees an opportunity for growth. The Lions hardly had to pitch him. He said he looked at Detroit and made "the pitch to myself."
To wit: Sutton's new defensive coordinator was a three-time Pro Bowl corner. His new position coach was a two-time Pro Bowl corner, in Detroit no less. And his new head coach is one of the most popular figures in football.
"I feel like we got some of the best coaches in the business," Sutton said. "Guys who played the game at a high level and played the game for a long time. You talk about a lot of years of knowledge, a lot of years of longevity in this business encircling all different areas and phases, that’s always room for growth, that’s always room to learn more and just to get better at your craft, especially at something that we put our all into. And that’s all you can ask for, that overall support and belief in what you do behind you."
While the Lions were winning eight of their final 10 games last season, the Steelers were winning six of their final seven. Both teams fell short of the playoffs, but Sutton saw some of himself in how Campbell's Lions refused to break. He respected how they "stood on their foundation and weathered the storm," he said, "because that's my identity."
"And I’m just ready to infuse that into a new division," Sutton said.
He's more than ready to play for Campbell himself.
"Seeing what he’s been doing around the league, it’s exhilarating, man," said Sutton. "Guys love this guy, and that’s not just me speaking. You see this far-spread around the league. Guys want to play for him, guys love his energy and just everything that he brings to the game. He’s always going to be passionate about what he does, and you need that. You need someone who’s going to be head over heels just trying to push you in the right direction and seeing what’s best for you and someone who has that same belief in you (that you have in yourself).
"That’s what it takes sometimes, someone who really has that true belief in you, someone who really supports you. It’s been good to get around him the past couple days. He’s just been so electric."
Sutton is joining a defense and a cornerbacks room rife with youth. He's the elder statesmen as six-year vet, a role he's eager to embrace. He said he has leadership DNA, and it's hard to miss it when he speaks. He laughed at the idea of being the oldest player in the room, because "I wouldn't even say I'm old, man."
"I’m still ready to do this thing," Sutton said. "I’m forever young, man. This is beautiful. I feel great. We’ll just keep continuing to come together as a group and like I said, be ready to go win some games."
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