The Buffalo Bills could be looking at adding some depth to their secondary with a cornerback who has burned them in the past.
Reports this week indicated that former Pittsburgh Steelers corner and current free agent Steve Nelson is attracting interest around the league, with the Bills one of the teams looking to sign him. While Nelson would help boost the depth at the No. 2 cornerback position behind starter Tre’Davious White, reports indicate that competition for his services could be very fierce.
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Bills Looking to Boost Defense
As Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, there is plenty of interest around the league in Nelson, with close to half the teams in the league approaching him to talk about a new contract. The Bills were considered one of the most interested, with the team looking to add some competition to Levi Wallace and Dane Jackson for the No. 2 cornerback spot. As Wojton noted, Nelson has proven himself to be one of the better cornerbacks in the league and is now available because he was a salary cap casualty in Pittsburgh.
In Nelson, the Bills are reportedly interested in a player that was graded a 67.1 overall by Pro Football Focus in 2020. The would rank as the football analytics outlet’s 40th best cornerback in the NFL last season.
As Wojton noted, Wallace was rated as PFF’s 34th best cornerback last season, so Nelson would be a strong addition and could compete for a starting role.
Nelson has had some success against the Bills in recent years, snagging an interception off Josh Allen when the teams met in 2019. He added six tackles and a pass defended in that matchup, and had another six tackles and three passes defended when the teams met again last season.
His skill set could be a strong fit in Buffalo. As Bills general manager Brandon Beane noted, the team is a bit unconventional in what it asks of cornerbacks, placing more value on players who are strong tacklers.
“One of the key traits in Leslie and Sean’s defense that we count on in corners that some don’t… We need our corners to come up and tackle. It’s just the way this is built, so, that’s a big part of it that gets overlooked,” Beane said.
Competition Heating Up
The Bills have already taken steps to boost their standing at cornerback this offseason, snagging Wisconsin’s Rachad Wildgoose in last week’s NFL Draft. As David De Cristofaro of USA Today’s Bills Wire noted, he is seen as a developmental project behind Taron Johnson at slot corner, though there could still be more immediate competition for a starting role still to come.
Beane said that the team planned to bring in more players to compete for roles, though noted that the team still has full confidence in Wallace and Jackson behind White.
“Just because we didn’t get a corner high doesn’t mean there are not other options later. But we do believe Levi and Dane and the guys we have here” Beane said. “Every chance Dane got in a game, it wasn’t too big for him, he made plays.”