Jordy Nelson has played his entire career in one spot. The beloved Green Bay receiver will have to carry on with another, after the Packers released him Tuesday to clear salary cap space.
The Raiders will have a chance to get him first. He’ll visit the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, and meet up with some old friends.
Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett is certainly an attraction. He was Nelson’s receivers coach in Green By from 2011-14 and his offensive coordinator – head coach Mike McCarthy called the plays – from 2015-17.
He was a second-team All-Pro in 2014, working with Bennett. He was also named the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2016 with 1,257 yards and an NFL best 14 touchdowns, a year after a torn ACL took him out a full season.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was in the Packers personnel department, though he was focused on pro scouting, when Nelson became Green Bay’s second-round pick in 2008.
There are several teams preliminarily interested in Nelson, though the Raiders certainly hope to have him signed before leaving Alameda.
It’s uncertain, at this stage, what Nelson’s looking for financially. He made a $5.5 million base salary last year.
Nelson is 33 years old, coming off his worst season in some time. He had 53 catches for 482 yards, six touchdowns on 84 targets, and a career-worst 9.1 yards per reception. He had just 0.95 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus. That downtick could be attributed, at least in part, to quarterback Aaron Rodgers missing significant time with a broken collar bone.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is an attraction in his own right, with strong football knowledge and a powerful arm.
The Raiders could use some help everywhere but especially in the slot, where Nelson played 29 percent of the time last year. He was the NFL’s most efficient slot receiver in 2016, and could find a role there in the Raiders offense that might offset any loss in raw speed.
The Raiders hope to sign Nelson as soon as possible. They could add him to a receiver corps that includes Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree -- that's the ideal scenario -- or, maybe more likely, they could exchange Crabtree for Nelson.
Crabtree is set to make a $7.5 million base salary that is not guaranteed, and could be easily cut despite McKenzie saying he’s in their plans for 2018. The Raiders wanted him to take a pay cut, though he might find a solid market considering how much receivers are getting paid in free agency.
Nelson is known as an excellent leader and locker-room presence, as Aaron Rodgers suggests in a farewell to Nelson on social media.
Hard to find the right words today to express what 87 means to me. No teammate exemplified what it means to be a packer quite like him. From living in GB full time, his incredible contributions to the city, state, and region, to his consistent, reliable play on the field. Definitely a sad day and the toughest part of this business. There will never be another quite like white lightning. #leader #brother #friend #baller #loyal #champion #legacy #intact #stillcanplayball #backshoulder #1stSBTD