As suggested by Bleacher Report’s NFL staff, the Cowboys should consider signing Houston Texans cornerback Steven Nelson. Two of Dallas’ top three cornerbacks, Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis, will be free agents after this season, which means the Cowboys might be forced to look for a new starting cornerback.
“Dallas has several impending free agents at cornerback, most notably Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis. So they’ll be looking to add at least one corner this offseason, and (Steven) Nelson could be a good replacement as he’s been putting together an impressive campaign so far.”
BR’s NFL staff argues that Nelson has been a solid corner this season, outperforming both Gilmore and Lewis.
“According to Pro Football Focus, the Texan allowed just a 79.2 passer rating when targeted and 23 receptions on 361 coverage snaps through Week 10. He’s also fared better in PFF’s grading system than Gilmore and Lewis have, and the 31-year-old likely wouldn’t break the bank on the open market.”
Steven Nelson Has Started for a Number of Playoff Teams
The 30-year-old veteran has served as a starter for the majority of his career, starting 108 of his 123 appearances during his nine seasons in the NFL. The only season he did not start was during his rookie campaign back in 2015.
Along the way, Nelson has started for a number of playoff-contending teams, including the likes of the Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over the course of his career, Nelson’s teams have advanced to the playoffs six different times.
Considering his playoff pedigree — he’s played in eight postseason games, more than Lewis and Trevon Diggs combined — the Cowboys could benefit from signing Nelson.
As BR’s NFL staff mentions, signing Nelson — who has never garnered an All-Pro or Pro Bowl appearance in his career — would likely be a bargain signing.
Nelson’s maximum value this season is $6.5 million, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC-TV. During Nelson’s peak, he earned $8.5 million per year with the Steelers after signing with them prior to the 2019 season. According to Spotrac, Nelson’s projected market value is $10.2 million per season across three years at a total of $30.65 million.
That type of salary would make Nelson the 18th-highest paid cornerback in the NFL.
By comparison, Gilmore’s current contract pays him $10 million per year. According to Spotrac, his projected market value is $11.1 million per season.
Steven Nelson Has Outperformed Stephon Gilmore in 2023
According to Pro Football Focus, Nelson has posted a 76.8 defensive grade and 78.7 grade in coverage. Among all cornerbacks (with at least 100 snaps), Nelson ranks 20th in defensive grade and 18th in coverage grade.
By comparison, Gilmore has posted a 69.2 defensive grade and 67.3 grade in coverage while surrounded by a much more talented defensive supporting cast.
The Cowboys could upgrade while signing Nelson to a cheaper deal than Gilmore. Furthermore, they would be signing a player that’s two-and-a-half years younger than the 33-year-old Gilmore.
Considering cornerback will likely be a huge position to fill in the offseason, Nelson could be the perfect signing for the Cowboys.