Nearly a month into free agency, the NFL’s reigning interception co-leader remains out of work.
How is it that Reggie Nelson, who in 2015 had eight picks, two fumble recoveries, 50 tackles and was graded by Pro Football Focus as the fourth-best safety in football, still hasn’t signed with somebody?
It’s ridiculous. The man is coming off a successful 16-start campaign and has missed just six games in nine NFL seasons. He was at the Pro Bowl just two months ago. Most analysts had him ranked among the very best free agents available this offseason. I ranked him second among safeties, behind only Eric Weddle.
And yet there hasn’t even been any talk about the 2007 first-round pick. We learned three weeks ago via Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports that the Bengals aren’t interested in bringing him back, and there were reports earlier in March linking him to Atlanta, Washington and Tennessee, but weeks have passed and nothing has come to fruition as Nelson lingers as the best player available on most free-agent lists.
The elephant in the room is that Nelson is 32 years old. But again, he’s been healthy throughout his career, he’s coming off his best season yet and defensive backs have pretty long shelf lives in this league.
This man was a second-team All-Pro. He had interceptions in five consecutive games last season. How in the world does he remain on the open market while the 31-year-old Weddle begins to collect paychecks on a four-year, $31 million contract with the Ravens? And fellow 32-year-old defensive backs Adam Jones and Brent Grimes have also found work.
Of course, none of those guys were paid the big bucks that went to 20-somethings like Malik Jackson and Olivier Vernon, so it’s possible Nelson has been offered contracts that he feels are simply unsatisfactory. In that case, he and his agent could be playing the long game and hoping for someone to become desperate this summer.
I hope that’s the case, because right now there’s no other logical explanation.