The Pittsburgh Steelers were expected to have a disappointing offseason. Their cap space is limited and many key players left for other teams. What wasn’t expected was standout cornerback Steven Nelson being released by the team. After the team granted Nelson permission to seek a trade, they ended up terminating his contract after presumably failing to trade him. Now, Nelson has a new home with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Eagles have signed cornerback Steven Nelson to a one-year deal worth more than $4 million, per source. A top free agent cornerback is off the market.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 25, 2021
Steven Nelson, Philadelphia Eagles, Agree to Contract
Steven Nelson found great success during his time in Pittsburgh. After struggling in Kansas City in 2018, Nelson came to the Steelers prior to the 2019 season and helped turn the secondary around alongside Joe Haden. Over his two seasons in Pittsburgh, Nelson appeared in 30 games and played 94% and 88% of total defensive snaps, respectively.
Some of his stats won’t jump off the page, but Steven Nelson was a very good cornerback with the Steelers. In 30 games, he only totaled three interceptions. However, he allowed completion percentages of 50% and 58% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. His best work was done in 2019, when he allowed no touchdown receptions and a passer rating of just 65.8 when targeted, a career best.
As a player, Nelson is dependable to lock down his side of the field for the most part. He does very good work in man-to-man coverage. For the longest time, Pittsburgh’s secondary was their biggest letdown. In 2019 and 2020, they had one of the best secondaries and overall defenses in the league. It was no coincidence that their secondary took a big leap forward the season they acquired Steven Nelson (sure, adding Minkah Fitzpatrick helped too). One reason for the release from Pittsburgh could have been that Nelson is seeking a long-term contract. The strapped-for-cash Steelers just did not have the money to offer him an extension paying him what he’s worth. Cutting Nelson opened up cap space for the team to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster, who many thought the Steelers never would have been able to afford.
Embed from Getty Images