Steven Nelson, Steelers Reportedly Agree to 3-Year, $25.5 Million Contract

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 12, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) intercepts a pass intended for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson, who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, has agreed to a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Nelson is a good pickup for Pittsburgh, who could use secondary help after the defense finished 20th in adjusted yards per pass attempt allowed, according to Pro Football Reference.

The 26-year-old started all 16 games for the 12-4 Chiefs and led the team with four interceptions and 15 passes defended. He also amassed 68 tackles.

The key word for the 5'11", 194-pound cornerback is "physical." That's how Nelson described himself soon after the Chiefs drafted him in 2015, per Arrowhead Pride. It's an adjective used by others at various points, including Steelers Depot and Turron Davenport of ESPN.com.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com explained where Nelson should fit on the Steelers defense:

Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN

Steven Nelson will start opposite Joe Haden as the Steelers' outside corner. Steelers got an up-close look at Nelson after playing the Chiefs four times in the last three years. Big signing for Pittsburgh at $8.5 M per year.

Tommy Jaggi of Steel City Underground covered some of the move's positive aspects:

Tommy Jaggi @TommyJaggi

Things to love about CB Steven Nelson: - Just turned 26 - Played 98.8% of snaps - Was ranked the 33rd best CB (PFF) despite playing on a poor defense - 4 INT and 15 PD as a 25-year old CB last season #NFLFreeAgency https://t.co/EWb2BUnaOv

Jon Ledyard of Draft Network supported the pickup, with one caveat:

Jon Ledyard @LedyardNFLDraft

I'll take Steven Nelson at this point. Doubt he's a long term answer, but moving to outside corner for the first time last season was a big improvement for him. Just don't play him in the slot.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus also noted how Nelson was the league's most targeted cornerback, a challenge he had to face largely because the Chiefs' high-powered passing attack forced opposing teams to throw the ball more. Kansas City saw a league-leading 632 pass attempts last season.

The Steelers have received more publicity for who's leaving (wideout Antonio Brown, running back Le'Veon Bell) rather than who's arriving this offseason, but Nelson is a solid addition who should make an immediate positive impact.