Steven Nelson seems to be spending his final days as a Pittsburgh Steelers. Yesterdays reports made it pretty clear the team doesn’t have him part of their future plans. They’ve given him permission to seek a trade and failing that, will cut him and clear up more than $8 million of much-needed cap space.
Cutting him doesn’t require much explanation. Both sides will move on. But ideally, the Steelers can get something for him and soothe the sting of trading away a starting corner and to me, the best corner on this roster the last two seasons. Getting rid of that kind of guy hurts.
So what can they get for him? This offseason is crazy for a variety of reasons and the simple, duh answer is “whatever the market says he’s worth.” And yesterday, Dave Bryan gave a good explanation of why Pittsburgh won’t get a super high pick for him. But this past year can hopefully give us a clue to what he could be worth.
Last year, there were three CBs traded during the month of March: the Lions’ Darius Slay, the Seahawks’ Quinton Dunbar, and the Jaguars’ AJ Bouye.
Below is a chart showing the players age for the season they were traded for, their career number of starts, their approximate value (according to Pro Football Reference) and the number of years left on their contract when they were dealt. At the bottom are Nelson’s numbers.
|Player||Age||Starts||Approx Value||Years Left||Compensation|
Nelson best compares to Bouye across the board. Similar age and production though Bouye did have an extra year on his deal. Overall, these three returned anything from a 3rd-5th round pick. I wouldn’t put Nelson quite in Darius Slay territory but he’s above the Quinton Dunbar range.
So a fourth round pick feels like Nelson’s worth in this situation. But of course, every situation is different. If teams know the Steelers are going to cut him, that’s going to hurt Pittsburgh’s leverage. Of course, the same was said about Rodney Hudson and he netted a third to Arizona. Same with Gabe Jackson, who got the Raiders back a 5th. When good talent is available, teams will still pay for it. And both of those players, like Nelson, are entering the final year of their deal. Nelson has had two strong seasons in Pittsburgh and his cost is manageable for a team looking to net a starter. Allowing Nelson to seek out a trade increases the odds a trading partner could and would work out an extension with him, too, increasing his value.
Trades are case-by-case. And there’s no blueprint teams have to follow. Getting anything out of Nelson will be a bonus and if you can ship him to an NFC team, all the better. But based on the parameters of the market, I think Pittsburgh can snag a fourth rounder for him.