Steven Nelson

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.

Texans Likely To Pursue Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift; Team Looking To Retain Sheldon Rankins, Steven Nelson

Nick Caserio has bargain-shopped at running back since taking over. Veterans Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead and Devin Singletary have been among the low-cost options to stop through Houston during the GM’s three-year tenure. The team looks to be aiming a bit higher this year, though it is unclear how much higher.

Saquon Barkley-Texans interest surfaced recently, and KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reiterates the Giants running back’s reciprocated interest in a Houston deal. The Texans, however, are expected to pursue several running backs; Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift are among the targets, according to Wilson.

Pollard and Swift are unlikely to cost what Barkley will. The two-time Giants Pro Bowler is expected to be this year’s most expensive back, and his market could well surpass $10MM per year. That may be too rich for the Giants, who had been expected to make an offer but had not done so as of this week. Barkley’s contract will provide a key update on modern RB value, whereas Pollard and Swift figure to be more affordable.

While Barkley had banked more than $48MM between his rookie contract and a 2023 franchise tag, Pollard saw his value hindered by the Cowboys’ tag decision last year. Pollard made just more than $3MM on his rookie deal and $10.1MM on the tag. Based on his 2022 Pro Bowl showing, the former fourth-round pick would have generated a better market last year. Pollard was less impressive as the Cowboys’ go-to back. He produced fewer scrimmage yards (1,316) than in 2022 and saw his yards-per-carry number crater from 5.2 to 4.0 despite Dallas rolling out a three-All-Pro O-line. Still, Pollard has been a versatile player and a key cog in an explosive Dallas offense; as of Sunday, the Cowboys are also not ruling out another agreement with their dual-threat performer.

Swift has also shown ability as a receiver and runner, impressing through the air in Detroit while being more of a ground option in Philadelphia. Following a trade from the Lions last year, Swift seized the Eagles’ starting job in Week 2 and did not miss any games. That marked new territory for Swift, who had battled through nagging injuries in Detroit. Swift posted his first 1,000-yard rushing season — yes, with a top-tier Eagles O-line — and earned a Pro Bowl invite. At 25, he is also two years younger than Pollard.

Singletary leapfrogged Dameon Pierce on Houston’s depth chart last season, establishing new career-high marks in carries (216) and rushing yards (898). The ex-Bills third-rounder, who signed for just $1.77MM last year, displayed his usual durability in helping the Texans to the playoffs. He is expected to generate outside interest, with Wilson adding it is not a lock the 5-foot-7 back returns. Though, the former third-round pick expressed interest in staying near the end of the season. The Texans were believed to share that interest, but they look to have expanded their options as RBs are set to flood the market.

The Texans are interested in bringing back both Sheldon Rankins and Steven Nelson, Wilson adds. Rankins signed a one-year, $9.75MM deal in 2023, coming over from the Jets, who were interested in re-signing him. The former Saints first-rounder ranked seventh among interior D-linemen in pass rush win rate, totaling six sacks — his most since 2018 — and 10 QB hits. Rankins’ fit could certainly depend on how long the Texans stay in the Christian Wilkins sweepstakes.

Nelson has been a Texans CB starter for the past two years. Nelson intercepted a career-high four passes; he added a pick-six against Joe Flacco in the team’s wild-card win. Nelson turned 31 earlier this year, which should limit his market. Though, most of the top CBs on this year’s market are in their late 20s or early 30s.

Denzel Perryman would like to be part of the Texans’ 2024 equation, Wilson adds. His market did not produce much last year, however; the ex-Chargers second-rounder started 11 games and made 76 tackles. The Texans will need to make one move at linebacker, at least, with Blake Cashman also on the doorstep of free agency. Azeez Al-Shaair, who played for DeMeco Ryans in San Francisco, also has interest in coming to Houston.

Texans, CB Steven Nelson Agree On Reworked Contract

Higher-profile contract situations have overshadowed Steven Nelson‘s in Houston, but the veteran cornerback had both changed agents and skipped voluntary offseason activities. The veteran cornerback and the Texans reached a resolution Thursday.

Nelson agreed to terms on a revised deal that ups his max earnings in 2023, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports. It is unclear what incentives are present, but Wilson notes Nelson’s max earnings will bump from $4.5MM to $6.5MM for the 2023 season. This comes not long after a report indicated the parties had discussed this contract.

Formerly with the Chiefs, Steelers and Eagles, Nelson signed a two-year, $9MM contract with the Texans in 2022. It does not sound like any years have been added to Nelson’s deal, keeping him on track to play out a contract year in 2023. But this does appear to bring this low-key standoff to a close. Nelson had reported to minicamp and training camp, though the ninth-year veteran also made a reference to his dispute with GM Nick Caserio in an Instagram post earlier this offseason.

Despite Nelson being signed to play in Lovie Smith‘s system, DeMeco Ryans plans to keep him around for his first season as Houston HC. It would have cost the Texans $1.75MM in dead money by releasing Nelson, though the move would have also come with nearly $4MM in cap savings.

Nelson, 30, started 15 games for the Texans last season. The former Kansas City third-round pick has made 99 career starts, having worked as both a boundary and slot defender. The 5-foot-10 cover man has settled in as an outside corner and has done fairly well in earnings beyond his rookie contract. Nelson signed a three-year, $27MM Steelers deal in 2019; he played two years on that contract. If Nelson plays out his Texans deal this season, he will surpass $30MM in career earnings.

Houston has Derek Stingley in place as its cornerback centerpiece, with veteran Desmond King entering his second year with the team as well. The Texans did sign Jaguars castoff Shaquill Griffin in May, bringing in some depth. The team also re-signed backup/special-teamer Tavierre Thomas this offseason.

Texans, CB Steven Nelson Have Discussed Contract

The Texans have handed out a few extensions this offseason, using considerable cash to fortify their front lines as DeMeco Ryans takes over. But the team also may be interested in another deal for one of its starting cornerbacks.

Steven Nelson and the Texans have engaged in dialogue regarding his contract, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The ninth-year defender is going into a walk year and currently resides as the league’s 40th-highest-paid corner. The former third-round pick hired a new agent this offseason as well.

One of many Texans given modest two-year deals under GM Nick Caserio, Nelson signed his — a two-year, $9MM pact — in April 2022. Bouncing from Kansas City to Pittsburgh to Philadelphia over his first seven seasons, Nelson found a home in Houston last year. The 5-foot-10 cover man started all 15 games in which he played, intercepting one pass and registering a sack during his first Texans season.

Pro Football Focus ranked Nelson just inside the top 50 at corner last season. The advanced metrics site has viewed Nelson as a player who has given teams a reasonable floor throughout his career, not rating him outside the top 60 in any season. Nelson has 99 starts on his resume. Turning 30 this offseason, Nelson is running out of time to secure another notable contract. He played two seasons on a three-year, $25.5MM Steelers deal but has since signed lower-level pacts with the Eagles and Texans.

The Texans are transitioning to their third HC in three seasons and will use Ryans’ defensive scheme this year. Despite big changes on defense, Houston reupped defensive tackle Maliek Collins on a two-year deal this offseason. Overall, the Texans have not shied away from extensions despite dismal on-field results under Caserio. The team locked down Laremy Tunsil for a second time and on Wednesday agreed to a three-year, $56MM deal with right tackle Tytus Howard.

The team has Derek Stingley in place as its cornerback anchor, with veteran Desmond King still under contract as well. Like King, Nelson has played both inside and outside in his career. Though, Nelson has seen more work on the boundary in recent years. The addition of Shaquill Griffin, a Jaguars cap casualty, in May also gives the Texans some decisions to make on the outside.

DB Notes: Baker, Gordon, Lions, Chinn

Budda Baker issued a trade request in February, though it did not become public until mid-April. The Pro Bowl safety remains with the Cardinals and attended the team’s minicamp this week. But the disgruntled defender did not participate in on-field work, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com tweets. This hold-in effort did involve some degree of participation, with Jonathan Gannon indicating Baker has texted with him regarding film and has been in contact with coaches.

It was good to have him in the building today,” Gannon said (via Weinfuss), calling Baker’s situation “the business side of it.” “Smile on his face. He was asking a bunch of questions. I told the coaches, you better be on your toes cause he’s going to ask good questions. The dialogue has been great, and I’m ready to get [No.] 3 back out there.”

With the Cardinals rebuilding and unlikely to have Kyler Murray available to start the season, it would be interesting to see if they listened to offers for Baker. It also is understandable for Gannon to want the decorated safety back in the mix, given the talent the Cardinals lost on defense this offseason (J.J. Watt, Zach Allen, Byron Murphy, Markus Golden). Two years remain on Baker’s $14.75MM-per-year contract, which has paid out its guarantees.

Here is the latest DB news from around the NFL:

  • The Bears now have three second-round cornerbacks on their roster, adding Tyrique Stevenson to a mix that includes Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon. A 2022 Round 2 choice, Gordon is now ticketed for a full-time slot role, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Washington product played both inside and outside last season, logging a 97% snap rate in the 14 games he played. Gordon intercepted three passes and forced a fumble as a rookie, though Pro Football Focus did not view his coverage work especially fondly, ranking the 6-foot defender 108th among qualified corners.
  • Will Harris moved from safety to slot corner with the Lions last year, but the team’s secondary overhaul included the additions of two hybrid players — C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch. Both safeties have extensive slot experience, and Gardner-Johnson — despite leading the NFL with six interceptions last season as an Eagles safety — is expected to play plenty in the slot with the Lions. Harris should be expected to be a backup in 2023, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, who notes the fifth-year defender should work as the top reserve on the outside and in the slot. A former third-round pick who re-signed on a one-year deal this offseason, Harris started 10 games last year.
  • Used as a linebacker and a safety over his first three seasons, Jeremy Chinn is set to stay on a versatile track in Carolina. The former Panthers second-rounder has worked as a nickel presence throughout the offseason, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. New Panthers secondary coach Jonathan Cooley said the staff has not fully pinned down Chinn’s role, which will make this run-up to a contract year interesting. The Panthers held off on trading Chinn last year, keeping him as part of a young defensive core.
  • Texans cornerback Steven Nelson hired a new agent recently, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who notes David Mulugheta is now representing the ninth-year defender. Nelson signed a two-year, $9MM deal with the Texans in 2022, but started all 15 games he played. Going into his age-30 season, the former Chiefs, Steelers and Eagles corner is running out of time to make another financial splash.
  • The Cardinals made tiny splashes in the secondary recently, adding corners Dylan Mabin and Bobby Price. Both will be on league-minimum deals, with GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer tweeting Price will earn $1.01MM (the minimum for a fourth-year player) while Mabin is at $870K (the basement for a player with one year of experience). With neither assured of a roster spot, no money here is guaranteed.

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