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Steelers Confirm CB Steven Nelson Was Released for Salary Cap Reasons

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PITTSBURGH — There was plenty of drama surrounding the Steelers’ decision to release cornerback Steven Nelson last month, with some speculating that Nelson asked for his release from the team.

On Monday, speaking for the first time since the start of free agency, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert confirmed that his release was primarily about reducing the Steelers’ salary cap obligations for the 2021 season.

“In Steve Nelson’s case, Steve was a valuable player for us,” Colbert said. “However, we had to make some tough salary cap related decisions that I mentioned earlier. Steve Nelson is a starter-capable NFL corner. We just couldn’t keep him under the current setup that we had or the current setup that we’re dealing with from a salary cap standpoint, and we had to make some tough choices.”

While in some ways, that’s true, as the Steelers saved $8.25 million by releasing Nelson and have less than $6 million in usable salary cap space for the 2021 season at the moment.

However, Nelson said the team never approached him about taking a pay cut to stay with the team, as linebacker Vince Williams and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did, and neither side has mentioned the possibility of signing an extension of voidable years, as the team did with Roethlisberger, Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

“Glad they got that cleared up,” Nelson wrote on Twitter. “Wish it didn’t take this long. Too many fake narratives anyway. Back to doing me, being patient, grinding. Money definitely good this way.”

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