Ranking Steelers biggest offseason losses so far in 2021

Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson (22). Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Steven Nelson

This one threw us all through a loop. We knew that Pittsburgh’s 2021 cap situation was bad, but we didn’t think they would resort to cutting their starting right cornerback to create cap space. While they were able to get JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with this money, Nelson’s departure leaves a gaping hole on the outside of the Steelers defense and it remains to be seen how they plan on filling this.

It’s possible that the team will use Cameron Sutton in this role opposite of Joe Haden, but his past performances in nickel and dime lead many to believe that he is more suited to play the slot for Pittsburgh. If Sutton does kick outside, then we have a whole new question about who will fill Mike Hilton’s old role.

Currently, the Steelers have Justin Layne and James Pierre as the only serviceable depth options, but both players have just 144 total defensive snaps under their belts, and it is a risk to rely on one of them to be the guy in 2021. With Nelson now gone, the team could be forced to draft a cornerback much earlier than they were originally anticipating. With a rapidly closing Super Bowl window, the decision to cut their starting veteran cornerback was certainly interesting.