The Pittsburgh Steelers have had to make some tough decisions this offseason, and none might have been more difficult than deciding how to handle the hefty contracts of both of their starting cornerbacks.
When it came down to Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, parting ways with Nelson would alleviate more salary cap space than cutting Haden. It was last Friday when the Steelers allowed Nelson, and his representation, to try and seek a trade.
Just days later, it became obvious there wasn’t going to be a trade partner for Nelson. He became so frustrated, he took to his verified Twitter page and said this:
Making a public announcement is a little out of my character, but you guys made your decision please don’t hold me hostage #dontholdmeback— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) March 23, 2021
The Steelers then obliged Nelson, and have reportedly released the talented cornerback. This per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network:
Nelson, who was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, was the highest paid free agent in Pittsburgh Steelers history, only to find himself back on the open market after just two seasons in Pittsburgh.
In his two years in Pittsburgh, Nelson started a total of 30 games during the regular season and one in the playoffs. Nelson had three interceptions, 17 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries, and 109 tackles during the regular season with the Steelers. After a stellar 2019 season, where Nelson did not give up a single touchdown, he was credited with seven touchdowns surrendered in 2020, according to Pro Football Reference.
Officially, the Steelers will save $8.25 million against the 2021 salary cap, which was set to be the amount of Nelson’s base salary. Nelson will carry $6.17 million in dead money from the signing bonus of his contract.
The Steelers will now turn to some of their reserves to help cushion the blow of Nelson’s departure. Players like Justin Layne, and even Cam Sutton, could be in play to start opposite Haden in 201.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.