While Devin Bush has soaked up most of the attention as the biggest move of the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of bringing new faces in, let’s not forget that the team signed Steven Nelson to what was for them a big-money contract back in the middle of March, at the start of free agency.
They identified cornerback as a major position of need and threw the most money at it that they ever have during the free agency period, inking the former Kansas City Chiefs starter to a three-year deal that averages $8.5 million per season.
While they did previously sign Joe Haden to a three-year contract at an average of $9 million per season, in August, the biggest deal on a per-year average they ever gave to an outside free agent previously was still Mike Mitchell’s five-year, $25 million deal from 2015. That, tied with Ladarius Green’s four-year, $20 million contract.
Be that as it may, the long and short of it is that the Steelers are more or less counting on Nelson being able to solidify one of those cornerback spots ahead of Artie Burns, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, and Brian Allen. And so far, new senior defensive assistant Teryl Austin has been appreciative of what he’s seen from the fifth-year player, now the second-most veteran defensive back on the team behind Haden.
“He’s been great. He’s fit into the room really well. He’s a good professional; a good vet”, Austin said in an interview shared on Thursday on The Fan.” He comes to work every day. He’s not an up-and-down guy, so you’re gonna get the same work ethic, effort, same work habits every day. He’s done really well. I think he’s done a really good job in terms of some of our press coverage stuff. He’s been a solid tackler in our live drills that we’ve had out here, and he competes well. I’m glad he’s on our team”.
While he hasn’t necessarily wowed with dazzling play after dazzling play at Saint Vincent College, and has even given up his share of plays here and there, Nelson has been generally improving day by day as he ingratiates himself into this new defense.
Of particular note, I think, was Austin’s praise of his work in press coverage, which as of last season is what the coverage has been shifting to more and more as they put together the personnel that is better equipped to run it.
Being a willing and able tackler is also an essential quality to have. So far it sounds as though Nelson has done a good job of coming in and being an example for the room, which is largely full of younger players, setting the tone with his professionalism, which is something that we’ve picked up even from his early interviews after signing.