(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Out of nowhere, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported today that the Steelers have granted permission to Steven Nelson to seek a trade.
This is shocking news, as Nelson had a great year in 2019 and was productive as well in 2020. It appeared that Nelson liked playing in Pittsburgh as well.
Nelson is in the final year of his contract and has a $14.2 million cap hit in 2021. The Steelers will free up $8.25 million with Nelson not on the team this year.
The Steelers re-signed JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $8 million deal today, so possibly trading Nelson offsets the contract with Smith-Schuster.
Nelson's cryptic tweets from Tuesday all make sense now.
Smith-Schuster would be receiving a one-year, $8 million deal. According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Smith-Schuster's one-year contract with the Steelers includes a $7 million signing bonus, a $1 million base salary and four voidable years. Smith-Schuster's cap number is just $2.4 million this year, per Ian Whetstone of Steel City Insider.
So, if Smith-Schuster only has a $2.4 million cap hit why is Steven Nelson on the trade block? Possibly Nelson didn't agree to a contract extension or restructure, or maybe he's unhappy with the team. It's certainly head-scratching.
Nelson retweeted Pro Football Focus' post that he was on the trade block and he also tweeted "BLESSING IN DISGUISE."
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic thinks the Steelers prioritized Joe Haden over Nelson. Trading or releasing Haden would have created $7 million in cap space, while Nelson frees up $8.25 million. Perhaps the $1.25 million was the difference being out tight the Steelers are up against the cap. It's all speculation at this point. We should know the full story soon on the almost certain departure of Nelson.