4 for Friday: Sutton, Fautanu, Frazier, and signings

Steel City Underground presents “4 for Fridays,” an off-season series of articles focused on four related Pittsburgh Steelers topics and commentary for fans and members of Steelers Nation.

The Steelers organized team activities continue as the summer kicks off, and in two days’ time the team signed one of their 2023 NFL Draft selections while re-signing a former cornerback to the squad. We look at these deals as well as the lone draft selection of the year who has yet to sign and free agent movement in and out of Pittsburgh.

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Sutton returns on one-year deal

On Wednesday, the Steelers were able to complete a deal that brings Cameron Sutton back to Pittsburgh. Sutton, whose contract is allegedly at the veteran minimum, left following the 2022 season to play for a Detroit Lions team that offered him a three-year deal worth $33 million ($22.5 million guaranteed); he started all 17 regular season games last season in Detroit and three playoff games.

Sutton was involved in legal issues surrounding an alleged domestic violence case in Florida and released by the Lions. His initial evasion of law enforcement led to concerns about his status, but prosecutors formally charged him a misdemeanor and required Sutton to enter, and complete, a diversion program that would defer any prosecution once it was completed.

Sutton admitted he’d been contacted by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan around the time of the 2023 NFL Draft, stating they were “checking in on (his) well-being” per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The conversation was also allegedly business-related, with Sutton stating he was anticipating where his future might land him.

Sutton has the versatility the Steelers love and joins a backfield that had yet to identify who would play in the slot versus outside corner opposite Joey Porter, Jr.

As a result of Sutton’s signing, the Steelers released tight end Izaiah Gathings. Gathings, an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State, signed with the New York Jets after rookie minicamp in 2023 but then moved to the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Fautanu signs four-year deal

The first-round selection of the Steelers in this year’s draft, offensive tackle Troy Fautanu, signed his rookie deal on Monday. The term is four years for $15.1 M ($7.8M signing bonus) per Spotrac via the Steelers.

2024 Steelers draft class

  • Round 1 • Pick 20 (20) • OT Troy Fautanu
  • Round 2 • Pick 19 (51) • C Zach Frazier
  • Round 3 • Pick 20 (84) • WR Roman Wilson
  • Round 3 • Pick 35 (98) • LB Payton Wilson
  • Round 4 • Pick 19 (119) • G Mason McCormick
  • Round 6 • Pick 2 (178) • DT Logan Lee
  • Round 6 • Pick 19 (195) • CB Ryan Watts

Payton Wilson, Ryan Watts, Roman Wilson, Mason McCormick, and Logan Lee had already signed four-year rookie contracts.

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Frazier last draftee to sign

It’s almost a guarantee that former West Virginia offensive lineman Zach Frazier will sign his rookie contract with the Steelers. The sticking point may be “guaranteed” money in the deal.

The NFL’s CBA with the NFLPA dictates that rookie contracts are tied to the player’s draft position, contain a guaranteed fifth-year option, and positional value (Pro Bowl nomination included). That does not mean any guaranteed money in addition to the rookie contract is non-negotiable, though.

With Fautanu receiving almost $8 million as a signing bonus in addition to the $15.1 million contract, Frazier may also be seeking a larger signing bonus, or at least a comparable one. Spotrac lists a predictive contract dollar amount/value for Frazier of around $7.5 million with a signing bonus of $2.3 million.

Regardless, Frazier isn’t the only player to go into the summer before inking their rookie contract. Broderick Jones did not sign his deal with the Steelers until June 2023. So, news of Frazier’s signing could be released very soon.

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Additions include Arnold and Jenkins

The Steelers have remained engaged as pre-training camp activities have continued. They’re evaluating areas where depth may be a question or concern. They’re also building around some young potential stars.

Defensive back Grayland Arnold, who originally signed with the Philadelphia Eagles (undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft), spent time on the active roster and practice squad before spending his last three seasons with the Houston Texans. He was signed to a one-year deal with the Steelers on June 5.

Receiver Jaray Jenkins (LSU), who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a UDFA in 2023, has been signed by the Steelers. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed on the Steelers’ official website.

To make room on the roster, Pittsburgh waived injured cornerback Luq Barcoo.

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