UPDATE: Steve Nelson’s visit with the Houston Texans resulted in him signing a two-year, $10 million contract. Hard to blame the Birds for not re-signing him at that rate. The Eagles will have a new CB2 in 2022.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.
2021 Eagles starting cornerback and current free agent Steven Nelson visited the Houston Texans on Monday, according to the league’s official transaction wire.
Nelson’s market has been fairly quiet since NFL free agency began last month. Nelson also failed to generate serious interest after he was let go by the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. It wasn’t until right before training camp that the veteran signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Eagles.
Anecdotally, Nelson was a solid CB2 while starting across from Darius Slay. Some wondered if the team should sign him to a multi-year deal.
Upon closer inspection, however, he was charted for allowing a 108.4 passer rating when targeted per Pro Football Reference. Nelson ranked 41st out of 77 cornerbacks graded by Pro Football Focus (minimum 50% snaps).
Nelson profiles as a perfectly cromulent starting cornerback option at this stage. He’s not a guy you go out and overpay for but he makes sense at the right price. That was the case for the Eagles last year. It could be the case again if he’s still hanging out on the market after the 2022 NFL Draft and they still have an obvious opening at CB2.
The feeling here, though, is that the Eagles will be content with letting Nelson walk. The team has talked up their youth at corner and the sense here is that praise isn’t merely about posturing. They’re hopeful that at least one player from the following group can step up: Zech McPhearson, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent Jr., Mac McCain III, Josiah Scott, and Andre Chachere. From that bunch, McPhearson is the likeliest candidate to start in 2022. Of course, that could change if/when the Eagles select a corner high in this year’s draft.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor Nelson’s availability (or lack thereof).