We’re sure you’ve heard about this a million times. Jordy Nelson is in the final year of his contract. The Green Bay Packers want to extend his deal.
So why isn’t a deal done already, then?
It isn’t done because Nelson is asking for $10 million a year.
He’s finishing up a three-year, $13.1 million deal, so that’s quite a jump.
There are a lot of things going on here, so let’s try to poke and prod all of them.
First of all, Nelson’s current contract turned out to be a hell of a deal… for the Packers. When Nelson signed that deal back in 2011, he hadn’t recorded a 1,000-yard season yet. In fact, he hand’t even recorded a 600-yard season. That year, he caught 68 balls for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns.
After an injury-plagued 2012, Nelson caught 85 balls for 1,314 yards and 8 touchdowns last season. He’s now without question the Packers No. 1 receiver.
Is he a $10-million-a-year guy?
Receiver is a funny position. The top-paid guys are not necessarily representative of the best receivers in the NFL.
Nine guys average more than $9 million per season. Among them are Mike Wallace ($12 million), Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million), Percy Harvin ($10.7 million) and Greg Jennings ($9 million).
Is Nelson better than those guys? Yeah, I’d say he is.
So would he get $10 million on the open market? Nelson will only be 30 next season, so you can bet your ass he would.
That brings us to the Packers’ salary cap situation. They have salary cap room. Around $14 million, currently. That doesn’t mean they can throw a big chunk at Nelson though.
Randall Cobb also has a contract that will expire after this season.
As you’re well aware of, the Packers have been content to let receivers walk via free agency in recent years. They wouldn’t meet Greg Jennings’ ludicrous financial demands a year ago and they gave zero shits about James Jones this year.
The difference with Nelson is that, unlike Jennings, he isn’t a prima donna and unlike Jones, he’s a No. 1.
The question really is, are the Packers willing to pay Nelson elite receiver money? Secondary to that is, do they have the talent to replace him if he leaves?
We’re sure the Packers don’t want to pay Nelson $10 million a year. They’ve already got large chunks of money tied up in Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. They will have some additional financial flexibility next season when Tramon Williams’ contract ($9.5 million cap hit this year) expires. However, if they gave Nelson $10 million a season, they’d have more than one-fourth of their cap tied up in three guys.
Is that justifiable? Probably not, especially for a team that drafted three receivers this year.
Part of the reason the Packers didn’t care about Jennings and Jones signing elsewhere is because they had replacements already on the roster. Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Jarrett Boykin made Jennings an afterthought. Adding second-round pick Davante Adams to that group should make Jones an afterthought.
And there are more young receivers waiting in the wings, including fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis.
Do we want to lose Jordy Nelson? No, but that seems like a distinct possibility now and the Packers are well prepared if it happens.