The long-awaited cornerback position is finally filled. On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Steven Nelson to a one-year deal.
Formerly a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nelson will join their Pennsylvania rivalry just days before training camp begins. He will start opposite of Darius Slay.
THE WAIT IS OVER
The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Steven Nelson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. As the second cornerback the team selected, Nelson primarily appeared on special teams. He finished his rookie season with eight solo tackles.
In 2016, he gained a starting role after competing against three other CBs. Nelson set a career-high 59 solo tackles. Placed on injured reserve the following year, he finished his time with the Chiefs in 2018, going out with a bang. As the No. 1 starting cornerback, he recorded 68 combined tackles, 58 solo tackles, ten assists, and four interceptions. He had a 72.6 passer rating.
In 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Nelson to a three-year, $25.5 million contract. As the starting cornerback, he finished his career in West PA with 109 combined tackles and three interceptions.
A few months ago, Nelson requested that the Steelers terminate his contract after an extension could not be agreed upon. Pittsburgh saved $8.25 million by letting Nelson go. Luckily for fans on the other side of the state, the 28-year-old agreed to terms with the Eagles on July 25.
With an available [Eagles] salary cap of $4.88 million, a source stated that Nelson’s contract is worth more than $4 million.
FILLING THE CORNERBACK GAP
Nelson’s contract solves one of Philadelphia’s problems in a big way. Officially an Eagles, he will enter training camp opposite of Darius Slay. Pro Football Focus ranked the cornerback as the 13th best entering the 2021 season. For reference, PFF ranked Slay No. 23.
Though Avonte Maddox and rookie draft-pick Zech McPhearson were supposed to compete for the job, Maddox will likely become the slot cornerback with McPhearson adding depth behind him. Josiah Scott, K’Von Wallace, and Marcus Epps will be their backups. Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod will fill the safety position.
In a corresponding move, the Eagles released defensive tackle Willie Henry in an effort to save money. The 27-year-old signed with Philadelphia two months ago after leaving the Houston Texans.
The Eagles begin training camp on Tuesday July 27, with a pretty solid secondary led by defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.