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Steelers release Steven Nelson instead of trading him, as veteran cornerback hits free agency

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Despite two largely productive seasons in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have released veteran cornerback Steven Nelson. Nelson’s departure became somewhat expected after the team recently re-signed receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $8 million deal. Following Smith-Schuster’s signing, Nelson essentially became a luxury the Steelers could no longer afford. 

Pittsburgh reportedly tried to find a trade partner for Nelson prior to releasing him. Nelson was released shortly after tweeting about his desire to be released. The Steelers saved $8.25 million in cap space by releasing Nelson, who was two years into a three-year, $25.5 million contract. The 28-year-old Nelson will be an attractive target for teams who are still looking to bolster their defensive backfield. 

Nelson bid adieu to Pittsburgh shortly after he was released. 

A third-round pick in the 2015 draft, Nelson was a starter for three of his four seasons with the Chiefs. He signed with the Steelers in 2019 after picking off a career-high four passes in 2018. Tasked with replacing former Steelers cornerbacks Artie Burns and Coty Sensabaugh, Nelson provided Pittsburgh with a quality cornerback opposite Joe Haden. The Steelers finished third in pass defense each of the past two seasons. A big reason for that success as the addition of Nelson, who logged 109 tackles, three interceptions and 17 passes defensed during his time with the Steelers. 

Nelson is the fourth defensive starter the Steelers have parted with this offseason. The team recently released veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams, who is still on the open market. Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu signed with the Jaguars, while outside linebacker Bud Dupree signed a longtime deal with the Titans. Mike Hilton, one of the NFL‘s best slot cornerbacks during his time in Pittsburgh, signed with the Bengals

The Steelers were able to keep cornerback Cam Sutton, signing him to a two-year, $9 million contract. Pittsburgh has also re-signed backup defenders Chris Wormley and Marcus Allen




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