The Pittsburgh Steelers provided us a memorable offseason Friday on March 19, 2021 as not only did they get wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster re-signed, they also have now put cornerback Steven Nelson up for trade. So, where do those two moves leave the Steelers right now and could there be another surprise or two on the way in the next week or so? Possibly.
For starters, after all the known moves have been made by the Steelers through Friday night, the team currently is estimated to be $1,942,586 under the salary cap. That’s obviously not a lot of salary cap space to work with. Outside of being able to sign minimum salaried players, the Steelers really can’t do much of anything else until more salary cap room is created.
With Nelson now on the trade market, one would think it won’t take long for the Steelers to deal him. If they can’t deal him soon, they will obviously wind up cutting him. In short, it will be surprising if Nelson is still under contract with the Steelers come this same time next week.
Trading or cutting Nelson will free up $8.25 million in salary cap space initially before roster displacement takes place. $7.59 million after. That would leave the Steelers roughly $9.5 million under the cap. Will they spend any of that cap space on a cheaper higher-profile free agent or two from the outside? It’s plausible, I suppose.
What about unsigned free agent tackle Alejandro Villanueva? The Steelers have now shown they are not afraid to use voidable years on non-quarterbacks as evidenced by what happened Friday with Smith-Schuster. I mean, they could give Villanueva one-year for $10 million and add four voidable years and make his cap charge in 2021 be just $2.86 million. That would eat up just a little more than $2 million in 2021 cap space in doing so.
I’m not saying they will re-sign Villanueva, only that the idea of it happening becomes a lot more plausible right now considering what happened with Smith-Schuster on Friday and how Nelson being gone soon will produce more salary cap space. If not Villanueva, maybe the Steelers will go after an experienced cornerback on the cheap. Adoree’ Jackson sure would look good on the Steelers if the price were right.
The Steelers could also use a veteran center on the cheap as well. That unsigned list of centers has dwindled the last few days, but there are still some players on it that would make intriguing signings for one season.
Could the Steelers just sit on most of the $9.5 million in cap space they would have after doing something with Nelson? Sure, that’s a possibility as well. After all, there are a lot of predictive costs that the team will have moving forward into the offseason.
Personally, I think we will have something else exciting to discuss in the next seven days and beyond the outcome of what will ultimately happen with Nelson. Here’s to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert getting maximum value for him via a trade in the coming days or week. After he gets Nelson gone, it will be interesting to see if anything else significant happens.