CB Steven Nelson Announces Retirement

We see our second NFL player from the 2015 draft class announce his retirement today. After seeing Giants tight end Darren Waller announce his retirement at 31 years old earlier today, now Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 tells us that Texans cornerback Steven Nelson has also made the decision to hang up his cleats.

Originally a third-round pick out of Oregon State, Nelson played out his rookie contract with the Chiefs, becoming a full-time starter in his sophomore campaign across from Marcus Peters. While he didn’t record an interception that year, Nelson recorded a career-high 16 passes defensed. He landed on injured reserve in 2017, missing seven games due to what would be the only major injury of his playing career. In the final year of his rookie deal, Nelson put on a huge performance, intercepting four passes and breaking up 15.

Those contract year efforts landed Nelson a three-year, $25MM contract in Pittsburgh, where he would start across from Joe Haden on the Steelers defense. Nelson played decently in Pittsburgh, racking up three interceptions and 17 passes defensed in two years, but ultimately requested permission to seek a trade. When the Steelers couldn’t find an appropriate trade partner to take Nelson, the two parties mutually agreed to terminate his contract. He landed in Philadelphia on a one-year deal, starting across from Darius Slay. After putting up similar numbers (one interception, seven passes defensed), Nelson once again hit free agency.

Nelson ended up signing in Houston, where he’s spent the past two seasons. While his first season with the Texans didn’t see any sort of special production (one interception, seven passes defensed), Nelson saw the return of his early disruptive success in 2023. While starting across from Derek Stingley and leading the team in defensive snaps played in his age-30 season, Nelson tallied 4 interceptions and 12 passes defensed, trailing Stingley in each of those categories by only one. Nelson then came up huge in the team’s first playoff victory since 2019, intercepting Joe Flacco and following it up with an 82-yard return for a touchdown during Super Wild Card Weekend.

After one of the best seasons of his career and at the age of 31 years old, Nelson made it clear that he wanted to leave the game of football on his own terms. “Retirement: after thinking it over and having some talks with my family, I think it’s time for me to take a step back and spend more time with my family,” Nelson explained in a telephone interview.

“I’m extremely proud of what I was able to do in the game of football,” Nelson continued. “Coming from a small town without a lot of resources, having to go to junior college, making it out of there to go to Oregon State, which was across the country from my family, going through a lot of trials and tribulations to get to where I am today, and to be able to persevere and make it this far. I’m extremely proud of my legacy and my career. I think I’ll be remembered, mostly by my teammates…as a leader and somebody that not only tries to lead by words but through my actions. Being a true pro and doing everything the right way.”

Before his announcement, the Texans hoped to retain Nelson’s services in 2024. Additionally, the Raiders, Giants, Rams, Commanders, and Dolphins all reached out with prospective contract offers after his deal with Houston expired.

Instead, Nelson made the decision to step away from the game for the benefit of his family, who is expecting a newborn in the coming month. According to Wilson, Nelson refused to entirely shut the door on a possible return to the sport, but for right now, Nelson is intent on retiring from the NFL to be with his family.

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