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Despite being released, Steven Nelson says he was the best cornerback on the Steelers last year

(Photo by Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Last week Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports reported that former Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson didn't want to compete with Cam Sutton for a starting spot with the team in 2021, which is why Nelson was released last month.

The Steelers promised Sutton when he was re-signed that he would be given an opportunity to compete for a starting spot on the outside. And the Steelers weren't going to have him compete against Joe Haden. The competition was going to be between Nelson and Sutton, according to Lolley. Nelson didn't feel like he should have to compete for a starting job and asked to be traded or released.

Nelson took issue with Lolley's report on Twitter last night and asked him if he was spreading rumors.

Nelson also was on SiriusXM NFL Radio yesterday and cleared up some of the matters regarding his release from the Steelers. Nelson said it was a trade or release situation and there was nothing else to it. The Steelers were up against the salary cap and saved $8.25 million in cap space by parting ways with Nelson.

"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," Nelson said. "So it was either a trade or release."

Nelson also said he and his agent thought he outplayed his contract and was due for a contract extension, but the Steelers thought he was expendable during the prime of his career.

Nelson says he has about 10-15 teams that have reached out to him with serious interest.

Late Tuesday night, Nelson sent a direct message to Lolley denying the report that he didn't want to compete for a starting job with Sutton and asked to be traded or released. Lolley wrote a story about what Nelson told him on DKPittsburghSports.

"They promised Cam, meaning they would let me go bc they can’t keep me at a high number nobody ever called me and told me that," Nelson told Lolley via direct message.

Nelson also said he wasn't running away from competition with Sutton.

"Why would the highest-paid corner ride the bench?" Nelson said in a DM.

"Believe me, that’s not what I was told so get your facts straight I’ve never ran from any comp and no knock on Cam but I’m the best, was best corner on that team. This is simply called a cap casualty situation."

Nelson might think he was the best cornerback on the team last year, but the Steelers, obviously, thought otherwise as they prioritized Sutton and Joe Haden over him. They also must have a lot of confidence in Justin Layne and James Pierre as the No. 3 and No. 4 cornerbacks.

Statistics also back it up that Nelson was, in fact, not the best cornerback on the team last year. It was Haden. According to Bob Labriola of, in 2020, opposing quarterbacks targeted Haden 79 times and completed 40 (50.6 percent) for 559 yards (14.0 average) with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 75.9. In 2020, opposing quarterbacks targeted Nelson 98 times and completed 57 (58.2 percent) for 732 yards (12.8 average) with seven touchdowns and a passer rating of 97.0.

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