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2021 Offseason Questions: Did Steelers Make Decision On Nelson Before Re-Signing Sutton?

Steelers cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Steven Nelson

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason, resulting in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. And right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. Though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Did the Steelers determine that they would be parting with Steven Nelson before or after re-signing Cameron Sutton?

While we know or can safely conjecture a good deal of what went down this offseason at the cornerback position for the Steelers and how it played out, one thing I don’t think we can quite pinpoint is exactly when the team decided that Steven Nelson would not be retained, and whether that came prior to striking a deal with Cameron Sutton, or afterward.

Not that it matters at this point, since what’s done is done, but it would be interesting to know. Had they not signed Sutton, would they have kept Nelson? Or at least approached him with the option of taking a pay cut or doing a void-year deal that would allow him to hit free agency next year?

There are certainly those who continue to be confused by why the Steelers decided to move on from Nelson altogether. There’s the reasoning that they could have created the cap space saved with his release through other avenues.

Granted, I find it hard to come up with that money without including the likely future restructure of Stephon Tuitt, and possibly Chris Boswell as well. That is money they’ll still need to account for just for their basic spending later on this season. But basically, at what point did they determine that they were not retaining Nelson? And why didn’t they approach him with alternatives that would keep him on the roster?

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