Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans CB Steven Nelson Announces Retirement

Steven Nelson is retiring after a decade in the NFL, his final two seasons in Houston.
Steven Nelson is retiring after a decade in the NFL, his final two seasons in Houston. Photo by Jack Gorman
Like many NFL teams, the Houston Texans still have a few veteran players from last season, who are currently free agents, that are still figuring out what they're going to do in 2024. This time of year, that's fairly normal, since the big money in free agency has already been handed out, and coming into 100 degree heat for OTA's and minicamp is a drag.

One Texan free agent from 2022 and 2023 who appears to have made up his mind about playing for the Texans, or any other team for that matter, is cornerback Steven Nelson. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC Channel 2, Nelson has announced his retirement after a 10-year NFL career:
Per Wilson's post linked above, here is what Nelson had to say about his somewhat surprising decision:
“Retirement, after thinking it over and having some talks with my family, I think it’s time for me to take a step back and spend more time with my family,” Nelson said in a telephone interview. “We’re expecting a newborn this coming month and I wanted to devote all of my time and energy to that and various business ventures off the field. I’m extremely proud of what I was able to do in the game of football.

“Coming from a small town without a lot of resources, having to go to junior college, making it out of there to go to Oregon State, which was across the country from my family, going through a lot of trials and tribulations to get to where I am today and to be able to persevere and make it this far. I’m extremely proud of my legacy and my career.”
A few thoughts on the somewhat sudden retirement of the man who has proclaimed himself, via his user ID on X.com, "Nelson Island":

Nelson was a solid player for the Texans
The Texans gave Nelson a two-year, $10 million contract in the 2022 offseason, and I think it's safe to say that Nelson's play exceeded the value on that deal. Nelson made big plays for the Texans during the regular season, including a game sealing pick against the Saints. Perhaps his biggest play of the season was this pick six in the playoff win over the Browns:
Nelson finished the 2023 season as the 29th rated cornerback out of a total of 127 cornerbacks eligible for PFF's rating system.

Nelson could be a handful on social media and off the field, though
While Nelson's play on the field was stealer enough over the last couple seasons, he will probably be best remembered for taking a run on social media at general manager Nick Caserio in 2023, and at head coach DeMeco Ryans in 2024. In summer of 2023, after the Texans extended Maliek Collins contract, Nelson got upset about his contract situation and posted this shot at Caserio's choice of clothing:
The team actually ended up giving Nelson a little extra money, and naming him a captain in 2023, an odd response which probably galvanized Nelson several weeks ago when he took this odd run at Ryans, seemingly shaming him into publicly helping people affected by the recent storms:
This probably sealed Nelson's fate here, and probably didn't do wonders for his market in other cities, considering Ryans is one of the most respected people in the NFL.

How close was Nelson to coming back?
I'm not sure what types of offers Nelson received. Obviously, he didn't get a good enough offer to return to playing, but according to Wilson, "multiple NFL teams, including Texans, Raiders, Giants, Rams, Commanders and Dolphins made prospective contract offers or serious inquiries." The Texans appear ready to roll with a training camp competition between Jeff Okudah, C.J. Henderson, and rookie Kamari Lassiter at cornerback.

How close is Nelson to coming back down the road?
Wilson asked him about the possibility of coming out of retirement, if a team had a need and the money was right:
“I always will keep my body in shape and will always be ready if the right opportunity comes or I feel like the timing is right and my heart is into, I’ll do it,” Nelson said. “As of now, I think it’s best for me to take a step back and just enjoy my family.”
So, for now, we will rest on the memory of the big pick six against the Browns, and congratulate Steven Nelson on carving out a nice decade in the league.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast, on Instagram at instagram.com/sean.pendergast, and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast