The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers should look to bring back Steven Nelson with the savings that they netted in swapping David DeCastro for Trai Turner.
Explanation: The Steelers relieved themselves of DeCastro’s $8.75 million base salary he was due in 2021 with his release, and they used $3 million of that to sign Turner. That leaves them with almost $6 million in cap space that probably even they a month ago didn’t expect to have. Nelson, whom they released as a cap casualty, at this point certainly should be able to be had for less than the remaining difference, and likely in the ballpark of Turner’s range.
There are no indications at all that there is any reason beyond finances behind the Steelers’ decision to release Steven Nelson. There was no acrimony, other than a very brief window during which he grew frustrated waiting for him to be released, though he still remains unsigned, and he expressed his appreciation for the organization once the move was made.
From that perspective, there is every reason to believe he would be welcomed back into both the locker room and the organization. And it’s clear that he’s not going to get a bit contract like he had, or he would have signed by now. The territory of $3 million, give or take, is a very fair price to pay for a starting cornerback who is still in his prime, even if he is not elite.
And they still have plenty of questions in the secondary. No matter how high your opinion might be of James Pierre, do you want to give him a starting job, right now? Cameron Sutton and Nelson could work out amongst themselves who would play where and when.
While it may be the case that the Steelers have some cap relief they likely were not anticipating when they released Nelson, and that he can probably be had for a few million, the reality is that they have bigger concerns.
One can easily make the argument that that extra money would be better spent on other positions, such as outside linebacker in particular, and even safety. They have given Malik Hooker a look already, after all, and it appears the two parties are still in contact. He would also address their overall lack of secondary depth and could be a nickel defender.