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8-Year Starter Linked to AFC Team

Free agent Steven Nelson has yet to sign with a new team, but that could change in the days leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Steven Nelson Free Agent

Steven Nelson might not be the sexiest free agent on the open market, but the cornerback is one of the most reliable players still available. Appearing in all 17 games while making 16 official starts, the defensive back finished the 2023 season with four interceptions, 12 passes defended, 63 tackles, and a 72.6 PFF grade, finishing 29th in the league among 127 eligible players in that metric.

Nobody is saying Steven Nelson is the second coming of Darrelle Revis, especially when the free agent is entering his age-31 season. However, these numbers show that Nelson is still a starting-caliber cornerback, and the film backs that up. In today’s pass-heavy NFL, every team should be looking for players capable of slowing down receivers, and the Oregon State product could find a new team before long.

In a recent article, PFF’s Brad Spielberger chose the best landing spot for all the top remaining free agents. According to the analyst, Steven Nelson could sign with the Denver Broncos as a free agent.

Free Agent Steven Nelson Linked to Denver Broncos

Spielberger notes that free agent Steven Nelson has “logged a healthy dose of snaps in so many coverage schemes,” and believes his versatility will be put to good use on the Denver Broncos. However, Nelson is at his best in off-coverage, and Denver frequently employs that style of defense.

Barring a complete surprise, the Broncos will not be too competitive in 2024. The team took on a record-setting amount of dead money to part ways with Russell Wilson and they have no clear answer at the quarterback position. That said, no team goes into the season without pretending to put up a fight, so they might as well sign Steven Nelson as a free agent to reinforce their secondary.

Of course, the Denver Broncos won’t be the only team bidding for Steven Nelson as a free agent. While he might not be anyone’s first choice, he’s still a good player and some teams will come knocking eventually. Maybe he’ll have to wait until after the 2024 NFL Draft, but the following teams could use him on their roster.

Other Possible Fits

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions cornerbacks need some reinforcements following the release of Cameron Sutton. While Stephon Gilmore might be their ideal free agent signing, Steven Nelson is still good enough to start for this team. Detroit made it to the NFC Championship Game despite having a subpar defense, and they would’ve made it to the Super Bowl if they had a defensive back capable of catching balls that hit them in the facemask.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs lost the L’Jarius Sneed trade and need to reinforce their secondary if they want to pull off the three-peat. Steven Nelson is one of the best free agent options available, and they might need to sign him and use the rest of their cap space to add a reliable wide receiver.

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins released Xavien Howard because they couldn’t afford to pay him. This team desperately needs more secondary help, and Steven Nelson could be the best free agent option in their price range. The Dolphins share a division with Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, and multiple talented wide receivers, so they’ll need as many good defensive backs as they can find.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are pursuing Stephon Gilmore, which means they’re looking for help in the secondary. While this team won’t win the Super Bowl in 2024, they have added plenty of talent over the past few weeks. If Steven Nelson signs as a free agent, this team could surprise some people with an improved offense.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints need to make the playoffs if Dennis Allen wants to keep his job. Marshon Lattimore isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still a reliable starter. The CB2 position, however, could use an upgrade, and Steven Nelson could be the perfect free agent for the job. The NFC South should still be relatively weak, so the Saints might be able to take home the division crown with just nine or 10 wins.

Main Photo: Thomas Shea – USA Today Sports


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