Releasing receiver Jordy Nelson may end up being the one black mark on Brian Gutekunst’s first season as general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers clearly miss him. Meanwhile, his new team, the Oakland Raiders, love the guy.
Let’s just look at what former and current teammates and coaches are saying about Nelson.
Here’s the Green Bay side.
“I think you have some young players who need an example of what it’s supposed to look like and that’s where that Jordy Nelson injury (in 2015) was devastating,” a Packers assistant coach said. ““(You say to them), ‘this is how you do it’ and then Jordy goes and does it.”
“All I can say is that it’s different,” receiver Geronimo Allison said. “His presence is missed. It feels different, but I’m going to say the one thing is that it’s forcing the other veterans, like myself, to show the young guys how things are done and how to operate in the classroom and on the field.
“The way he did things, the way he’d go about his business, that’s how you lead by example.”
Here’s the Oakland side.
“The thing that you hear about that he can’t run anymore,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said, “that’s false.”
“I can tell you, he’s one of the fastest skill guys that we have still. He can run. You see that by his route running. If he can win on underneath routes, that means DBs are scared about what he can do over the top. He’s still Jordy Nelson, that’s for sure.”
“He’s wired in,” Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden said. “You can see why he was a security blanket for Rodgers all those years. He can still run. He’s proven to us he can still run. We can line him up anywhere we want and he can run any route we draw up. We’re really encouraged by him.”
How about some more praise?
“He’s a tremendous leader,” Raiders’ offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “He’s a mentor to the younger players. I think they really appreciate that, including Amari. I think that’s a good relationship there with those two. You see them together a lot and talking and that’s been real positive … just his professionalism that he brings to that room.
“As we’ve seen the first three days you’ve been out here, he’s made some impressive catches and he’s shown exceptional speed after the catch.”
Can the dude still get open?
“He’s just a guy that it’s easy to throw to him because he’s open,” Carr said. “There are some guys that are good at running some routes, a guy will be there that’s strong at catching the ball or whatever. He just gets open. He’s very route savvy. He’s very smart.
“I can’t say enough good things. I can’t believe Green Bay let him go, but I’m glad he’s here.”
I mean, what to say?
Releasing Nelson definitely wasn’t a popular decision with fans. It wasn’t popular with players either. We know Aaron Rodgers didn’t like it and now we can see a number of other guys don’t like the move either.
Nelson is coming off a season of 53 catches and 482 yards, his lowest yardage total since 2009. You can look at that and say, well, Nelson is clearly going downhill. You could also look at it and realize Brett Hundley, who threw the football for the Packers for most of 2017, sucks.
Hundley and Nelson had no chemistry on the field, unlike Nelson and Rodgers, who had plenty.
Nelson was set to count for around $10 million against the salary cap in 2018, the final year of his deal with the Packers. Gutekunst offered to restructure Nelson’s deal and let him remain with the team. Nelson wanted to stay with the team. However, the Packers’ offer was insultingly low.
Instead, Nelson signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Raiders.
Nelson’s leadership is clearly missed by the Packers. It’s an intangible quality that, like his predecessor, Gutekunst seemingly doesn’t value. We’ll have to see how Nelson plays this year, but we expect him to be productive with the Raiders.
And if you’re into weird parallels, here’s one for you.
Like Nelson, unceremoniously released by the Packers after years of stellar play. Clearly, still had something left in the tank. Signed with… the Oakland Raiders. Played two more seasons and made the damn Pro Bowl in his final one.