Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson remains a free agent following his release by the team. But it’s reportedly not due to a lack of interest. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, at least 14 teams have contacted Nelson’s camp. But Nelson is waiting for the right fit before signing with his next team.
As Fowler notes, those teams include the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, and AFC North foe Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s unclear what Nelson is looking for in regards to the right “opportunity,” with nearly half the league showing interest. Likely, he hasn’t gotten the contract offer he’s looking for. Nelson seemed to say as much in a recent (NSFW) tweet.
Nelson was scheduled to earn $8.25 million had the Steelers kept him. It’s unclear what his market looks like, especially towards the end of free agency when many teams are up against the salary cap.
For the Steelers, after not drafting a cornerback in this year’s draft (seventh round pick Tre Norwood is expected to play safety), they’ll roll with internal options of Cam Sutton, James Pierre, and Justin Layne. Sutton will be the team’s right corner in base, but likely will move inside when the team plays nickel and dime. Pierre and Layne could battle this summer for that RCB in sub-packages. The team also signed former Jets DB Arthur Maulet late last week. He figures to be more of a slot corner and free safety. If he plays well, however, that could keep Sutton on the outside.
Nelson was signed by the Steelers prior to the 2019 season. He played well in his two years with the team, making 30 regular season starts, intercepting three passes, and overall, providing steady, consistent play. His release was one of the most surprising moves the team made this offseason. Kevin Colbert cited the contracting salary cap as the main reason why.
“What we talked about in Steve Nelson’s case, Steve was a valuable player for us,” Colbert said late last month. “However we had to make some tough salary cap decisions I mentioned earlier. Steven Nelson was a starter-capable NFL corner. We just couldn’t keep him under the current setup we’re dealing with from a salary cap standpoint. We had to make some tough choices.”