The best defensive player still available on our Free Agent Hot 100 is safety Reggie Nelson, who started all 16 games for the Bengals last season and had eight interceptions. But the numbers 16 and 8 aren’t the most relevant numbers when assessing Nelson.
Instead, the most relevant number is 32, his age. That appears to be the reason Nelson hasn’t yet found an NFL home.
Although Nelson played very well last season, NFL teams simply don’t like to spend a lot of money on players in their 30s at any position other than quarterback. It appears that the Bengals want to get younger at the position, and it also appears that Minnesota — where Nelson knows the defense run by coach Mike Zimmer — is uninterested.
Maybe NFL teams should be more open to the possibility that a player can contribute to the secondary past the age of 30. Charles Woodson played well for the Raiders last year at age 39. But age seems to be the reason Nelson hasn’t yet found his next NFL home.