Steven Nelson

Contract Details: Gilmore, Cooks, Nelson, Smith, Bynes, Watkins

Here are some details on deals recently signed around the NFL:

  • Stephon Gilmore, CB (Colts): Two-year, $20MM. The deal includes $10.51MM guaranteed at signing and $14MM in overall guarantees. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Gilmore’s Year 1 payout will total $10.02MM.
  • Brandin Cooks, WR (Texans): Two-year, $39.76MM. The deal includes $36MM guaranteed at signing consisting of the $16MM signing bonus (applied over three years) and the first two years of base salary ($2MM in 2022 and $18MM in 2023), according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Cooks will have a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000 and will receive a roster bonus in 2024 of $3MM.
  • Steven Nelson, CB (Texans): Two-year, $9MM. The deal is worth up to $10MM, according to Wilson. It includes $4.5MM guaranteed at signing consisting of a $2MM signing bonus, the 2022 base salary of $1.75MM, and $750,000 of the 2023 base salary. Nelson will have a 2022 per game active bonus of $44,117 for a potential season total of $750,000 and a 2023 per game active bonus of $58,832 for a potential season total of $1MM. The deal includes an unspecified incentive worth $250,000 for the 2022 season.
  • Geno Smith, QB (Seahawks): One-year, $3.5MM. The deal is worth up to $7MM, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with up to $3.5MM worth of incentives likely triggerable if he wins the starting job. The deal includes a guaranteed amount of $500,000.
  • Josh Bynes, LB (Ravens): One-year, $1.27MM. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, the deal includes $600,000 of guaranteed money consisting of the signing bonus worth $152,500 and $447,500 of the base salary (worth $1.12MM total).
  • Sammy Watkins, WR (Packers): One-year, $1.85MM. The deal includes a signing bonus of $350,000 and is worth up to $4MM, according to USA Today’s Ryan Wood, with incentives for playtime, catches, yards, and touchdowns. Watkins can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he plays a snap count percentage of 55%, 60%, or 65%, respectively. He can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he records a receptions total of 50, 60, or 70 catches, respectively. He can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he has yardage totals of 550, 650, or 700, respectively. Lastly, Watkins can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $575,000 if he catches 7, 8, or 9 touchdowns, respectively.

Texans To Sign Steven Nelson

The Texans have agreed to sign Steven Nelson, as Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network tweets. Once finalized, it’ll be a two-year, $10MM deal for the veteran cornerback.

A free agent in April for the second straight year, Nelson took a trip to Houston earlier this week. He’ll now join up with the Texans, moving on from a one-year stint with the Eagles. Previous to that, Nelson spent the early part of his career with the Chiefs (four seasons) and the Steelers (two seasons).

The former third-round pick worked as a starter with Philadelphia last season, just as he has for most of his career. To date, Nelson’s got 84 starts out of 98 total games.

The Texans re-signed Desmond King this offseason and they’ve also got Lonnie Johnson going into his walk year. Nelson, 29, will probably serve as a short-term answer at corner.

Nelson isn’t a world-beater, but he’s reliable — he hasn’t missed more than one game in any given season since 2017. His best recent work came in 2019 with the Steelers when he allowed a 50% completion rate and notched a 65.8 passer rating on plays where he was the closest defender. That year, his first in Pittsburgh, he ceded zero touchdowns. However, between 2020 and 2021, Nelson allowed 12 TDs.

Texans Meet With CB Steven Nelson

A free agent in April for the second straight year, Steven Nelson paid a visit to one of the league’s rebuilding teams. The Texans brought in the veteran cornerback for a meeting, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

Nelson signed with the Eagles just before training camp last year, having hit free agency after a Steelers release. The former third-round pick worked as a starter with Philadelphia last season, but the Texans were one of the teams interested before the Eagles landed him.

The Texans re-signed Desmond King this offseason and have Lonnie Johnson going into a contract year. The team has starter needs at a few positions, and Nelson would qualify as a short-term answer at corner. Nelson turned 29 this offseason and is approaching his eighth NFL season.

The ex-Chief has experience outside and in the slot and has been a steady starter for most of his career. Nelson has not missed more than one game in a season since 2017. His best recent season came in 2019 — his first in Pittsburgh — when he allowed a 50% completion rate, a 65.8 passer rating as the nearest defender and ceded zero touchdowns. Over the past two years, Nelson has allowed 12 TDs and seen his other coverage figures rise as well.

Eagles Sign CB Steven Nelson

The Eagles have signed cornerback Steven Nelson to a one-year deal, per a club announcement. Nelson’s one-year deal will furnish him with $2.5MM in base salary with the chance to make up to $4.125MM with incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). To make room on the roster, the Eagles have released defensive tackle William Henry

 

The Steelers released Nelson way back on March 23rd. Ever since, he’s been fielding interest from roughly half the league. Fourteen different teams reportedly reached out to him, including the Texans, Bears, Bengals, and Bills. Ultimately, the Eagles came away with the veteran.

Nelson was originally drafted by the Chiefs in the third-round in 2015. After a four-interception 2018 season for Kansas City, he signed a three-year, $25.5MM pact with Pittsburgh. He’s started 30 games for the Steelers over the last two seasons. And, in 2020, he notched nine passes defended and two interceptions.

Nelson has been a solid starter, and has received strong marks from Pro Football Focus. In fact over the last two years, PFF has him graded as the NFL’s 11th-best cornerback. Now, the 28-year-old will look to boost the Birds’ secondary, likely starting opposite of Darius Slay. The duo will be supported by rookie Zech McPhearson with slot support from natural nickel Avonte Maddox.

2021 Cap Space For All 32 NFL Teams

There are still plenty of quality free agents left on the board as we look ahead to training camp. Cornerback Steven Nelson, tackle Russell Okung, and longtime Legion of Boom leader Richard Sherman headline the list, along with accomplished edge rushers like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Olivier Vernon. That list will only grow larger, of course, as more teams shed veterans to redirect their funds elsewhere.

With that in mind, here’s a look at every NFL team’s cap situation, starting with the league-leading Jaguars:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — $32.7MM
  2. Denver Broncos — $28.9MM
  3. New York Jets — $28.5MM
  4. Cleveland Browns — $20.6MM
  5. Los Angeles Chargers — $19.9MM
  6. Detroit Lions — $17.9MM
  7. San Francisco 49ers — $17.8MM
  8. Cincinnati Bengals — $17.4MM
  9. Washington Football Team — $16.7MM
  10. Indianapolis Colts— $14.3MM
  11. Carolina Panthers— $14.3MM
  12. Minnesota Vikings — $13.5MM
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers — $13.1MM
  14. New England Patriots — $13.1MM
  15. New Orleans Saints — $11.4MM
  16. Arizona Cardinals — $11.3MM
  17. Buffalo Bills — $10.5MM
  18. Baltimore Ravens — $8.8MM
  19. Atlanta Falcons — $8.6MM
  20. Seattle Seahawks — $8.3MM
  21. Tennessee Titans — $8.3MM
  22. Kansas City Chiefs — $7.9MM
  23. Los Angeles Rams — $7MM
  24. Chicago Bears — $6MM
  25. Dallas Cowboys — $6MM
  26. Miami Dolphins — $5.3MM
  27. Green Bay Packers — $5MM
  28. Houston Texans — $5MM
  29. Las Vegas Raiders — $3.3MM
  30. Philadelphia Eagles — $3.2MM
  31. New York Giants — $2.4MM
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $489K

Steven Nelson Has Interest From Texans, Bears, Eagles, Bengals, Bills

One of the top free agents left on the market is cornerback Steven Nelson. The Steelers released Nelson back on March 23rd, and he’s remained unsigned ever since.

That being said, it sounds like he’s unsigned still by choice, not because of lack of interest. Nelson’s “market has been strong,” and he’s received interest from 14 teams including the Texans, Bears, Eagles, Bengals, and Bills, a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Fowler adds that Nelson is choosing to be “patient waiting for right fit and opportunity.” Nelson was originally drafted by the Chiefs in the third-round in 2015. After a 2018 season where he had four interceptions for Kansas City, he signed a three-year, $25.5MM pact with the Steelers. He then started 30 games for Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, and had nine passes defended and two interceptions in 2020.

Nelson has been a solid starter, and has received strong marks from Pro Football Focus. In fact over the last two years, PFF has him graded as the NFL’s 11th-best cornerback. He could be a boost to plenty of teams in need of help in the secondary, and will likely get some significant money from somebody.

Steven Nelson Sought Steelers Extension; CB Drawing Interest

As free agency neared, the Steelers had one of the league’s worst cap situations. One of their starters may have tried to add a mutually beneficial wrinkle to the team’s cap sheet.

Steven Nelson believed he had outplayed the three-year, $25.5MM contract the Steelers gave him in 2019. The veteran cornerback sought an extension that would bring his 2021 cap number down while adding some guarantees and a pay raise, but the Steelers disagreed, Nelson said during a Sirius XM Radio interview with Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller (Twitter link). This led to the Steelers giving Nelson permission to seek a trade, a process that quickly gave way to the team releasing its two-year starting corner.

Prior to the release, Nelson said the Steelers did not offer him the option of a pay cut (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly). One year remained on Nelson’s previous deal, which called for him to earn $8.25MM in 2021. It would have been a strange development for Nelson to accept a pay reduction, given that he sought an extension that would bump his salary. But it will be difficult for Nelson, at this juncture, to match the salary he would have earned as a Steeler next season.

The former third-round pick said 10 to 15 teams have “serious interest” (Twitter link). While that seems high given the current marketplace, the 28-year-old defender figures to have an opportunity to be a starter elsewhere in 2021. Nelson joins Richard Sherman, Casey Hayward, A.J. Bouye and Dre Kirkpatrick as veteran corners available. Nelson has experience both outside and in the slot, having played in the latter role for a bit with the Chiefs. The six-year veteran graded as a top-40 corner, per Pro Football Focus, in each of his two Pittsburgh seasons.

Steelers Release Steven Nelson

Apparently there wasn’t much trade interest in Steven Nelson. The Steelers have released the veteran cornerback, the team announced on Tuesday.

We heard last Friday that Pittsburgh had given Nelson permission to seek a trade, but nothing materialized. The move came less than an hour after Nelson tweeted his displeasure with the process, asking the team not to hold him “hostage.” Nelson was due a reasonable base salary of $8.25MM, but was set to count for $14.4MM against the Steelers’ cap. A third-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015, he spent his first four years in Kansas City.

His work there landed him a three-year, $25.5MM deal from the Steelers in March of 2019. He started 30 games for Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, racking up 17 passes defended and three interceptions, and received strong marks from Pro Football Focus. Over the last two years, PFF has him graded as the NFL’s 11th-best cornerback.

Nelson just turned 28 in January, and should have plenty of suitors on the open market. The Steelers have now cut Nelson, let Mike Hilton walk in free agency, and have Joe Haden turning 32 next month. They’ve got a lot of planning to do for their secondary of the future.

Steelers Grant Steven Nelson Permission To Seek Trade

The Steelers have granted Steven Nelson permission to seek a trade, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Nelson, 28, has been starting for the Steelers for the last two years. 

[RELATED: Steelers Re-Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster]

Nelson isn’t a household name, but the advanced metrics have been fond of his work. Between the last two years combined, Pro Football Focus has him tied as the eleventh-best cornerback in the NFL. Meanwhile, the last year of his three-year, $22.5MM deal is set to count for $14.4MM on the Steelers’ cap. It stands to reason that Nelson would draw trade interest, given his reasonable his base salary of $8.25MM. Still, there are other quality cornerbacks available on the open market, including All-Pro Kyle Fuller.

After watching Mike Hilton leave for the Bengals, the Steelers re-upped corner Cameron Sutton on a two-year deal. Without Nelson, the Steelers’ CB group would be headlined Joe Haden, Sutton, and 2019 third-round pick Justin Layne, who hasn’t seen much playing time.

AFC Notes: Ramsey, Steelers, Kafka

It looks like Jaguars owner Shad Khan was mistaken. Khan, who has seemingly been overly optimistic about the Jalen Ramsey situation ever since his trade demand became public, said earlier this week that he expected Ramsey to play in Week 6. That was apparently news to Ramsey, and his camp soon put out word that he hadn’t committed to playing this week. Indeed, it “would be a major surprise if he plays this week,” tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Ramsey was limited in practice all week, which is obviously a step in the right direction considering he hadn’t practiced until then since his back injury popped up. All indications are that Ramsey hasn’t wavered from his trade demand, although Khan continues to act like nothing is wrong. The Jaguars owner has also said he intends to give the Florida State product a record-breaking extension. Jacksonville has a tough game against the Saints on Sunday, and it looks like Gardner Minshew will be leading them into the game shorthanded.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of injured cornerbacks, Steelers corner Steven Nelson won’t be playing this week either. Nelson suffered a groin injury during the team’s Week 5 loss to the Ravens, and the team just announced he’s been ruled out. In his place, Pittsburgh will start 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns. Burns has been labeled a bust by many and the Steelers declined his fifth-year option this past offseason, which shows you how they feel about him. Nelson had been playing pretty well alongside Joe Haden, so this is a big downgrade to the Steelers’ secondary as they prepare to take on the Chargers.
  • Add one more young assistant coach to the list of ones to monitor in the Chiefs’ Mike Kafka. Kafka is “very well respected” and is a possible future head coach, tweets Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL radio. Kafka was a former backup quarterback for the Eagles, and he now works under his former head coach Andy Reid. Kafka is Patrick Mahomes‘ position coach and there’s a long history of former Reid assistants landing head jobs, so it certainly makes sense.
  • In case you missed it, the Jets moved on from quarterback Luke Falk after he started the last two weeks for them.