Per NFL Network, the team agreed to terms Tuesday with cornerback Steven Nelson on a three-year, $25.5 million contract. The move marks the second time in recent years the Steelers have turned to outside help at the cornerback position. They previously inked Joe Haden to a three-year, $27 million deal before the 2017 regular season.
Since being drafted in the third round out of Oregon State by the Chiefs in 2015, Nelson, 26, has started 38 games, notching four interceptions, one forced fumble and 150 solo tackles in that span.
A sizable portion of those stats came last season, when Nelson started all 16 games for the Chiefs. During the 2018 campaign, Nelson secured all four of his career interceptions to go along with 15 passes defended, 58 solo tackles and two tackles for a loss.
Many Steelers fans wanted a big name like C.J. Mosley, Kwon Alexander or Landon Collins in free agency, but that was never on the table — especially after seeing the contracts those players pulled.
Instead, they get Nelson, who emerged as a playmaker for the Chiefs in 2018. His four interceptions are double Haden's two from last season, and his 15 passes defended are better than Haden's 12, as well. It's worth noting on those comparisons, however, that Nelson was targeted 113 times during the regular season — more than any other corner in the league.
Nelson represents an immediate upgrade over Coty Sensabaugh, and his ability to generate turnovers and create plays fills a need on the Steelers defense. While Sensabaugh was a steady, reliable contributor down the stretch in 2018, he never had the "splash play" ability Nelson offers. For comparison, Sensabaugh has three interceptions in his entire seven-year career.
Nelson's three-year, $25.5 million contract is right in the ballpark of what they paid Haden in 2017, and he does appear to be improving. If he plays just as good as he did last year for the Chiefs, Steelers fans should be satisfied with this move.
If he continues to improve as he has each of his four seasons thus far, however, this may quickly look like a steal.
Plus, check out his attitude:
I’m all smiles right now can’t be happier they got a straight worker !!! #SteelersNation