UPDATE (4:23pm PT on Thursday): The Raiders announced the signing of former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr picked up Jordy Nelson at Oakland airport on Wednesday afternoon. That’s when the recruiting pitch started and it carried on for hours, through dinner at an East Bay locale.
Nelson didn’t head back to the airport. He stayed in town, and his camp started hammering out details of a new deal. It was done Thursday morning.
Nelson agreed on terms of a two-year contract to join the Raiders. NFL Network analyst James Jones, a former Raiders and Packers receiver and Nelson’s good friend, first reported the news.
A league source confirmed that information to NBC Sports Bay Area.
Jones reports that Nelson agreed on a $15 million deal, with $13 million guaranteed.
This deal mark Nelson’s first professional change of scenery. He spent the last decade in Green Bay. He was released for salary-cap reasons, and was in Oakland the next day.
Nelson scheduled free-agent visits in Seattle and New Orleans, but cancelled them after agreeing to a deal in Oakland.
The Saints and Seahawks tried to pry Nelson from Oakland’s grasp, which may have helped bridge a financial gap between the team and the receiver’s camp. All that, however, has been resolved.
Nelson’s now in the mix. He’ll provide locker-room leadership and accountability, in addition to steady hands, solid route running and excellent improvisational skills.
His addition also sends Michael Crabtree’s out the door. The veteran receiver was set to earn $7.7 million in salary and bonuses, though none of it is guaranteed.
The Raiders were able to cut him freely and use funds not re-allocated to Nelson for other positions. Having Nelson, Crabtree and Amari Cooper on the field at the same time seems like a good idea, but spending smart is the theme of this Raiders offseason.
They have several other needs in free agency, especially in the defensive backfield and defensive line. They’re still working to re-sign middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, but must find a replacement if he leaves the Bay Area.
Jettisoning Crabtree is unpopular among the fan base – he made huge plays over the last three seasons – but he fell out of favor with Jack Del Rio’s staff and wasn’t beloved by everyone in the locker room after losing became common last year.
The receiver market exploded this week, and Crabtree could find significant funds on the open market.
Nelson’s coming off a down year and will be 33 in May, but the Raiders clearly believe he can be back on track. He had 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, though quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured most of that season.
That ended a three-season run with at least 1,250 receiving yards, though a torn ACL stole his 2015 season. He hasn’t looked as quick since the injury and gaining separation could be a question mark, but veteran savvy could help him produce steadily.
Nelson’s sure hands can’t be underscored, especially on a team with drop issues. He had two drops in 84 targets last year, and six drops on 158 targets in 2016. He has caught 68.4 percent of his targets during an illustrious career he hopes can thrive working with Carr and new head coach Jon Gruden.
He’s familiar with receivers coach Edgar Bennett and general manager Reggie McKenzie from his Green Bay days. Having Carr’s arm and Gruden’s offense – where veteran receivers have thrived – was surely an attraction.
Nelson and Cooper will be primary targets, with Seth Roberts looking to rebound from a down year.