ARIZONA CARDINALS

ESPN’s Barnwell predicts Cards sign former Steelers CB Steven Nelson

May 24, 2021, 6:05 PM | Updated: May 25, 2021, 7:08 am

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson (22) breaks up a pass to Arizona Cardinals wide receiv...

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson (22) breaks up a pass to Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. The Steelers won 23-17. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s no secret that one of the holes the Arizona Cardinals have tried to fill is the cornerback position. And while they did draft cornerbacks Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan in the 2021 NFL Draft, the rookies are not guaranteed to be ready to contribute.

Preferably, the Cardinals would like to have someone who could provide that immediate impact, and ESPN’s Bill Barnwell might have found that guy.

Barnwell thinks that former Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson would be a good fit for the Cardinals. He suggests that they would sign him for a one-year, $4.5 million deal.

Arizona did use a pair of midround picks at corner, but its current starters on the outside appear to be Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford. Butler is a viable reclamation project, but Alford hasn’t played since 2018 as a result of injuries. Nelson would give the Cardinals a replacement in their lineup for Patrick Peterson and prevent them from having to count on Alford to stay healthy.

Nelson was drafted 98th overall by Kansas City in the 2015 NFL Draft, where he spent four seasons. He then signed with Pittsburgh for a three-year deal worth $25.5 million.

Nelson did well in the Steel City, but the Steelers decided to terminate his contract at the end of the 2020 season. In his final year in Pittsburgh, he recorded 48 tackles, two interceptions and a 97.0 opponent passer rating, a 31-point jump from 2019, according to Pro-Football Reference.

If Arizona does sign Nelson, he would join an already interesting cornerback room. He would be next to 2019 second-round draft pick Byron Murphy and veterans Malcom Butler and Robert Alford. Both Murphy and Butler are guaranteed starters for the Cardinals, but Alford is the question mark.

The former Atlanta Falcon has not played since 2018 due to multiple season-ending injuries in a row. Alford did not play for the Cardinals last season because of a torn pectoral muscle.

Because of injury concerns, Arizona is allowing others to compete for Alford’s spot. That group includes rookies Wilson and Gowan — and could possibly include Nelson.

That’s why Barnwell wants Cardinals fans to keep an eye on him.

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