Former Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson said he was not given the opportunity to play under a reduced salary and wanted to negotiate an extension with the team, not leave it, in his first interview since his release from the club last month.
Nelson, speaking on Movin’ the Chains with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Sirius XM Radio on Tuesday, said that his release made him a victim of a declining salary cap league-wide.
“I felt, and I also my extension felt that we were due an extension due to the fact that I had out-played my current contract for the past two years,” Nelson said, and added that he thought that with the Steelers in a salary cap bind for the 2021 season, an extension might be beneficial to both parties, giving Nelson long-term stability while allowing the team to push some money into future years.
That turned out not to be the case, with the Steelers instead telling Nelson to find a trade.
“For whatever reason, the Steelers wanted to move a different way and thought I was, I guess, expendable, in my prime, via trade,” Nelson said. “It came down to me being traded, or being released, and I just want to make it very clear, to those out there who might not know, or assuming, that there was never a discussion with me being able to take a pay cut. I was never even given that opportunity to take a pay cut.”
When there was no trade to be found, Nelson publicly asked the Steelers to go ahead and release him as soon as possible, instead of waiting until later in the offseason.
The Steelers saved $8.25 million against their 2021 salary cap obligations by signing Nelson and were able to put at least some of that money toward re-signing Dime corner Cameron Sutton.
Nelson said he doesn’t hold any ill will toward the Steelers, and understands that his release was a business decision likely impacted by a declining salary cap.
“I understand it’s a business and how that goes,” he said. “I am a cap victim. For me, I’m just using it as fuel to the fire.”
Nelson also said he’s heard rom 10-15 teams since being released by the Steelers.