With the plethora of pressing salary cap issues the Pittsburgh Steelers is facing this offseason, one name that has not been mentioned as part of the equation, is veteran cornerback Steven Nelson.
This upcoming season, Nelson enters the final year of a three-year, $25.5 million contract, which he signed in 2019. As it stands, Nelson holds the fourth highest cap hit at $14.42 million. Considering the fact that he is in his final year, his contract cannot be restructured to give the team some cap relief. In this sense, extending him would accomplish two important things; it would lower his cap hit, while giving the team some capital to potentially sign a free agent.
With the recent contract restructure of Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, the Steelers currently sit around $6 million over the salary cap. Nelson's extension could free up about $8 million in cap space.
Arguably the biggest reason for extending Nelson, is how it could benefit his fellow teammates. As detailed by writer Jonathan Jones in his article for CBS Sports, his extension could "spare ILB Vince Williams or TE Eric Ebron from becoming cap casualties". In addition to this, the extra room would prove vital in extending their cornerstone players in Minkah Fitzpatrick and TJ Watt, before the beginning of the season.
As the Steelers continue to prioritize handling the conflicts with Ben Roethlisberger future on the team and his large contract, Nelson's extension would be a good way to put themselves in a better position of retaining key players for a potential playoff run this upcoming season. In general, Nelson's body of work with team has proven worthy of the long-term investment.