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Aaron Rodgers on Jordy Nelson: 'It's tough when you lose guys like that'

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Aaron Rodgers on Jordy Nelson: 'It's tough when you lose guys like that'

-- It's a foreign feeling, but not having Jordy Nelson in the locker room or on the field before the snap of the ball is going to take some getting used to.

Especially for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was Nelson's teammate for 10 seasons before his unceremonious release from the team in March.

"We've been together for 10 years," Rodgers said on NFL Total Access on Friday. "That's a lot of memories, a lot of reps in practice, a lot of big-time plays in games, a lot of body language checks that you just can't do with other people that we've done over the years."

Nelson was entering the final year of a four-year, $39 million dollar deal he signed in the summer of 2014. His cap hit, however, was in the ballpark of $12 million, and the Packers needed the room to recoup the void left behind after Nelson's release and provide Rodgers with another potent receiving threat.

That's why the Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason, who can also function as a 6-7 slot receiver and be utilized as a monstrous red zone threat -- similar to Nelson's final two seasons in Green Bay where 16 of his 20 touchdowns in that span came inside the 20.

Where Nelson will be missed the most, however, is as someone who was essentially connected at the hip with Rodgers.

The two combined for 65 touchdowns, the most in team history by a quarterback-receiver duo. Their chemistry was what made their production as a pair so formidable; Rodgers knew where Nelson was going to be and Nelson knew precisely where Rodgers wanted him to be.

"Obviously, gonna miss him. Just miss his personality in the locker room. He's like a coach on the field and he's great in the meeting rooms -- and we've been fortunate to have some great guys in that room over the years. ... It's tough when you lose guys like that."

The Packers were uninterested in retaining Nelson, and thus, offered him the veteran minimum. For a wide receiver, that number is slated to be just over $1 million, which would've cut Nelson's base salary in 2018 from $9.2 million down to a significantly lower number.

Rather than returning to Green Bay at a massive discount, he inked a two-year, $15 million deal with the Oakland Raiders just two days after his initial release. He recalled bitter feelings after the Packers did very little to keep him on the roster.

"I think the hurt part was, to be honest, was the unwillingness to try to make it work," Nelson said on the Wilde & Tausch Show in March. "But then again, it's a business, and they have to do what they think is best. What they need to do is to be able to move forward and prepare for the future of the Packers."

Nelson caught all six of his receiving touchdowns last season in the first five weeks of the season, leading the NFL during that span.

He also led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (14) the year prior and was named the 2016 NFL Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (40) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

John Galt's picture

Jordy is a great player and human being, but he kept getting injured. One was on a cheap shot on the sidelines by a New York Giant in the ribs who never got fined. There wasn't even a penalty. Just watched it again. The DB led with his head right into the rib cage.

Anyone ever wonder why when they ran that play on TV 10 times that game and everyone announcing saying he was targeted. Think about that deeply. I think I know, What do you think?

Nevertheless, Jordy is not worth $10 million on the bench. I wish him well for the rest of his career but the Packers had no choice.

I won't be watching for the 3rd year in a row, I am an US Army veteran and you disrespect our flag, you get on the fightin' side of me.

14,000 high schools play football and 700 colleges. I'd rather watch them play. I go back to 1958 watching the Pack and am a shareholder so this hurts me, but there are bigger things than the NFL - Way bigger things,

Nick Perry's picture

"Jordy is a great player and human being, but he kept getting injured."

First and foremost John Galt thank you for your service. I even gave you a "Thumbs-Up for what that's worth but have to disagree with you, but only about the part of your comment above. Nelson didn't keep getting hurt, matter of fact he missed a total of 8 regular season games since 2008 (Not including 2015) in his career.

2009...3 games missed
2012...4 games missed
2017...1 games missed

Matter of fact he play you mentioned in your comment when Nelson was targeted, he was actually back playing in the NFCCG against Atlanta wearing a "Flack jacket". I've had bruised ribs where it hurts to even breathe so I can't imagine having broken or cracked ribs and trying to play Football. Nelson was and will always be one of my all time favorite Packers. Not just because of all the huge plays he made while playing for GB, but because of games just like the Atlanta game when he shouldn't have even been on the field.

dobber's picture

"matter of fact he missed a total of 8 regular season games since 2008 (Not including 2015) in his career."

NP--how do you not include 2015? You're up to 24.

Nick Perry's picture

dobber....I only did that because I got the feeling after reading what John had wrote that it implied he was ALWAYS hurt every year.,...Like Matthews for example. 2015 should count but for the purposes of my comment I left that season out to try and make my point.

It made sense to me in my coffee starved brain at the time I was making it... ...... : )

DD's picture

NICK PERRY: You're correct. Jordy was a easy read for Rodgers and a great leader. The Pack did very little to keep him. I know it's a business, but Jordy was dependable and could have easily played the slot. As far as injuries, I believe Cobb missed more games!! Jordy was as tough as they get, remember the ribs? I will dearly miss him. Go Jordy!!

croatpackfan's picture

OK. I love Jordy, because he is humble and, I believe, very good person. But I do not understand. How many WR you would like to see on 53? 8, 9, 10? Whom you'll remove for Jordy? Or you believe that any of the drafted WR can be smuggled in PS?

Jordy is at the end of the career and Raiders did smart move. Jordy will help Carr to improve himself, but at Packers he will just taking valuable place for a young WR...

GBPDAN1's picture

I wish the Packers would have at least offered 3-4M a year for Nelson. Yes, he was losing a few steps, but the chemistry he had with Rodgers would have resulted with decent production .

Offering the 1M minimum was insulting to a Packers legend. Jordy is worth more than 1M due to his vast experience in the system and chemistry with Rodgers.

egbertsouse's picture

I’m a veteran also and really don’t care if people stand for the national anthem or not. This is America and a free country, so far, anyway. Just for the record I was a draftee (remember those?) and not a John Wayner or lifer like most of the people who write in these sites. I hated the goddam army for taking 2 years of my life and sending me over to mess with people that didn’t want me around in the name of “freedom.” Just figured someone should hear the other side of the story.

BTW-No one is disrespecting anything by kneeling. It’s a sign of repect, that’s why they do it in church when they pray.

dobber's picture

Thumbs up to you, John, and all of our other colleagues whose work has made and kept our country free.

stockholder's picture

John Thanks for your service. But I do care. The players union filed the grievance. Standing up for one's belief is Fine. Great. But I believe this destroys the atmosphere of the game. It's Negativity. Policies can be bad. And it can bring out TROUBLE MAKERS! Were not building a Nation. To say the owners only care about the color of green is wrong. I'm with the owners.

Savage57's picture

Here's the coolest thing about the whole deal. You get to make the choice not to watch, just like Kaep, et al, get to make the choice not to stand.

That is the footing upon the ideal you were fighting under is built; that precious right to free will. Not a piece of cloth.

I really feel for all of you guys who had jobs as soldiers for varying amounts of time, but had so little understanding of what you were defending or a good idea why you were doing it.

WKUPackFan's picture

^^^^This, 100%! Well stated Savage.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

There is nothing in John Galt's comment that suggests he thinks those players don't have the right to kneel, or that he doesn't understand that he served to protect such rights. I understand that we have the legal right to burn a Quran or a Bible, but I can choose not to associate or support those who do such things.

By the by, I don't agree with John's comments on Jordy.

Turophile's picture

John Galt
All over Western Europe, across many sports, the teams play the National Anthem only for INTERNATIONAL events, a place where it is appropriate, since it is nation against nation. Is it really appropriate for games that are not internationals ?

Here is an extract taken from a piece (written 25 Sept 2017)
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https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/

“President Donald Trump spent much of the weekend complaining to anyone who would listen about his disdain for the many NFL players protesting police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem. Refusing to show respect for those shows of patriotism, he claimed, was abhorrent.

What the president failed to acknowledge in his rant was that many of the military displays present at NFL games were, at one time, financed by the government. Rather than organic, wholesome expressions of patriotism — the kind Trump has claimed NFL players are disrespectfully protesting — the tradition of players standing for the national anthem is a recent tradition that may have coincided with a marketing ploy meant to sell cheap, manufactured nationalism.
As recently as 2015, the Department of Defense was doling out millions to the NFL for such things as military flyovers, flag unfurlings, emotional color guard ceremonies, enlistment campaigns, and — interestingly enough — national anthem performances. Additionally, according to Vice, the NFL’s policy on players standing for the national anthem also changed in 2009, with athletes “encouraged” thereafter to participate. Prior to that, teams were not given any specific instructions on the matter; some chose to remain in the locker room until after opening ceremonies were completed. “
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
While the financial benefits (to the NFL) might not be what they once were, the new sentiments remain

So, while it is your right to not watch NFL games, perhaps your anger should be directed elsewhere, maybe at Nationalism being pushed a little too hard in places it doesn't need to be. You would be correct to argue that many other nations like to do nationalistic things in sports, like flyovers, but America as a whole likes to take it a bit further. No National Anthems before a game, means the platform on which the protest was built, is gone.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree with the main point: since the NFL decided to unnecessarily play the National Anthem at the beginning of games, while the players are on the field, I support the right of players to react in a non-violent and not overly disruptive way. Kneeling seems to me to be a reasonable response. Requiring the players to stand at attention during the anthem is requiring them to seem to express a political opinion they don't have (not unlike political correctness only from the Right's point of view). I think that is unamerican. I don't care what the courts end ruling.

I called for GB to sign Kaep last year, and I have advocated possibly signing Reid right now if it can be done for several million (still prefer Tre Boston).

Hawg Hanner's picture

Agree Jordy has diminished skills. I empathize with young black males in this society. Kneeling in protest may have been more of a hindrance than a help but it is perfectly understandable. What is the flag but a symbol?

Handsback's picture

John, thank you for your service....and agree with your comments about Jordy.

Tundraboy's picture

Likewise.

12guage's picture

I blame hundley for jordy's bad season last year. Plenty of times jordy was open but hundley sucked so bad he didn't see him. Gunt should have restructured both Cobb and Jordy so as to save the cap money and stil kept them both. Then release the one who didn't agree with restructuring.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I agree. The Packers would have been much better to let Hundley go and offer a better contract to Jordy Nelson. And with other players not performing up to standards last year why was just Jordy singled out? I agree that there should have been more restructured contracts and then go from there to make decisions on who stays and who doesn't. Jordy Nelson wasn't the only under achiever on the team last year. There were plenty more and on both sides of the ball, not just offense. Jordy Nelson will be missed for sure. Let's hope one of the rookie receivers can step up and perform to expectations. There are some big shoes to fill with Jordy Nelson gone.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Restructuring Cobb and Jordy sounds good, but I bet you can't make the math work. Jordy got just $2.8M less than he was scheduled to make in GB for 2018. That wasn't going to cut it. Oakland didn't put any dead money into his contract for 2019, and I wouldn't have wanted to punt cap hits/dead money down the road for Jordy. Maybe Jordy would have taken a larger straight pay cut, but we will never know.

As for Cobb, Amendola got $6M guaranteed for 2018. I suspect that Cobb thinks he's better and knows he is younger than Amendola. Somebody will probably give Cobb a decent signing bonus and $7M AAV, but I don't want it to be GB.

CM3's comment that there isn't much behind him says it all about whether he is willing to take less than the $11.4M in cash he set to earn in 2018.

Getting $5.3M in cap relief by restructuring Jordy and Cobb doesn't come close to the $10.2M we got by releasing Jordy. We'd have maybe $3.6M in cap space today. There would be no need for articles about signing Dez, Connor Barwin, Tre Boston, some late summer cap casualty, or anyone else because we would be done spending money.

Nick Perry's picture

When Gutekunst was first named GM I knew at least one or all, Cobb, Matthews, or Nelson was going to be cut. BG took over a roster with to many holes and a limited amount of Cap Space to try and fix it. No matter which player he cut he was going to ruffle some feathers and hurt some feelings along the way. I don't blame Gutekinst or even Russ Ball who was probably the one who came up with the contract offer which was actually an insult. We all know who left the roster in the shape it was when Gutekunst was hired.

IMO it became crystal clear Nelson had really regressed during the 2017 season. Even with Rodgers on the field he wasn't nearly as effective between the 20's as he was. Inside the 20 he was still one of the best which he proved with his 6 TD catches from Rodgers in weeks 1-5. But while watching Nelson last season it became very clear Jordy had lost steps...more than just one. He was getting caught from behind often or on a few plays just gave himself up falling to the ground.

I had hoped Nelson and the Packers would find a way to make it work but at the end of the day someone was getting cut. This is the part of the business that sucks because it would have been great to watch Nelson go out just like DD, as a Packer!

stockholder's picture

Whats done is DONE. Nelson set the "Bar" for the other WRs. They cut him. And they should cut the others, if they can't do better than Nelson. I for one; think Jordy Nelson had his Heart ripped out last year. Yes he's not in his prime. And Neither was James Jones. ( When they let him go.) It seems the $$$$ were the main factor with both. And it will be with Cobb next year! So now the packers hopes are on Allison, Davis, Clarke and Yancy. Somehow that doesn't work out when you compare them to Nelson and Jones. Jordy Nelson said," Speed is what a successful WR must have in the NfL. If the packers want Jumps, you have to start with SEPARATION. Judge the new kids on that first. Judge the Hopefuls on that. It's time the Packers quit wasting roster spots on Chance, Bench space , Road Blocks, Want a bees etc. Can MM learn from his past mistake? Lets not put the blame on QBs. The roster is MMs first job. He needs to stay with the speed and separation. Any good WR worth keeping must have that first.

Jonathan Spader's picture

"The roster is MMs first job"

Did Mm become the GM when I wasn't looking? Isn't the roster Gute's job? MM is in charge of making sure that the roster Gute puts together performs as well as it can. He also been responsible for helping coach the QBs and playcalling. Can you expand more on what you think a HC's responsibilities are Stockholder? This isn't in any way an attack just a question to see what you meant.

stockholder's picture

No MM is not the GM. Gute doesn't tell MM who he has to have on it! ( Free Agents or draft picks. ) I'm sure MM keeps Top picks because of what scouts and others see. (Even GM signings. ) The Depth/Shuffle at TE,/ Wrs, even Lbs, has been a failure. MM must make sure all his players can play. That if put in a game they won't miss a beat. It's MMs job to make sure that all are game ready and won't screw -up! I believe all the players at WR/TE/RB /Lbs should get to play by committee. PUSH EACH OTHER. !!!! They can't if they sit the bench. Chances may never happen. And I think thats on MM. If MM can't rely on a player. Don't have them on the team.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That quote you attributed to Jordy strikes me as odd. Do you have a link?

"Gute doesn't tell MM who he has to have on it!"

Yes, Gute does tell MM who has to be on the roster (the 53-man roster that is, not the 46-man game active roster).

"I'm sure MM keeps Top picks because of what scouts and others see."

I don't have any idea what this means.

stockholder's picture

Jim Rome show. No Link. top picks= (MM isn't going to cut a top round pick. ) = He then would be going against the GM. MM would move them to the PS.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Rather than move a player to a PS we saw a 1st round draft pick get benched last year with Randall. Who then got traded. If a top pick got moved to the PS as you suggest another team would just sign them off the practice squad and we would have nothing to show for it. MM doesn't have any control over that stockholder... your argument just doesn't make sense to me. The repercussion for top draft picks being pricks or not performing is usually a trade. Like with Randall or Peters makes me wonder about Cooks.

stockholder's picture

Randall was a good CB to start with. Just not all-pro. His attitude had more to do with THAT trade, as SOME wrote. Even Benching. I wasn't referring to the top picks. MM will give a Top pick a chance to develop. (Example ADAMS) MM moved a 5 and 7 pick to the PS. last year. (Allison /Davis, Janis kept) And the risk is someone else will claim them as you stated. The question: does TT/ Gute make MM/ coach, Keep or play a player per Roster? That wasn't the case with the 5th and 7 th picks last year. So doesn't MM still have control of the roster?

Guam's picture

First and foremost, many thanks to all who have served our country.

Jordy nelson was one of my favorite Packers - a great WR and a class act throughout. However I agree with NP, Nelson had lost more than a step in 2017. It looked like DBs were glued to him and his ability to separate was gone. The Packer FO saw that and probably more which was why they made no serious attempt to retain him. I wish him well in Oakland, but would not be surprised if he doesn't make the roster.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Oakland gave Jordy $6.4M guaranteed. I'd be very surprised if Jordy doesn't make Oakland's team.

DD's picture

Jordy got screwed!! Should have cut Beluga first and MM!!

Jonathan Spader's picture

Head coaches get fired not cut. They don't count against your roster. Bulaga would have been a lower cap savings and has been a great player when healthy. Bulaga will start the season on IR which will let us stash another player on our 53 until he returns unlike Jordy. Buuuulaga not Beeelaga. Final note though yeah Jordy did get screwed.

Since '61's picture

In this era of salary cap/free agency teams and players need to make hard choices. Players for the best salary opportunities and teams for the best possible roster.

I didn’t want to see Jordy go but it was either him or Cobb or CM3. Cobb is younger and Pettine may have made a case for CM3 based on needing all the defense he can get.

Jordy’s age was a factor and he looked like he lost a step last season. Gute is trying to move the Packers forward with more speed and better athleticism. I expect that Jordy is just the first of many casualties we will see as Gute builds “his team” with input from MM and Pettine.

The NFL is a young man’s game which has never been friendly to aging veterans and probably never will be. Injuries, salary cap and free agency have made it impossible to keep a team together for more than a few seasons. Thanks, Since ‘61

Lare's picture

Yes, Nelson had lost a step and had trouble getting separation from defenders. But he still was productive when playing with Rodgers and could have been signed for far less than he was scheduled to make.

IMO, there was something else going on that made the Packers decide Nelson wasn't going to be on the team this season.

PatrickGB's picture

As some of you know ,I too am a retired veteran and 100 % disabled from my active duty injuries. I hate the disrespect yet honor the right to do it. So, I avoid the first thoughts that come through my head when other Americans kneel. They are exercising their right to be misguided. And I leave it at that. The bottom line is that we all want the same thing, fairness and respect for all.
GPG

Samson's picture

I thought this was old news.
AR needs to start focusing on 2018.
He's been playing football (probably) since his peewee days. Players come & go. That's the nature of any organized sport.

Always has been. --- Always will be.

Guam's picture

TGR: Fair point about the guaranteed money, but I wonder what MacKenzie saw that Gutekunst didn't. Lack of separation is usually the death knell of a pro WR. I think Carr will have difficulties throwing into the same very tight windows Rogers did (especially without the long history), so I have a hard time seeing Nelson being productive in Oakland.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks. I didn't think Jordy was worth $7.4M, so I guess I could only speculate. I am sure teams look hard at tape on guys who might be cap casualties and already had assessed Jordy's film. I'd assume that they think Jordy has something left in the tank: that's too much money for them to think he's washed up, isn't it? I suspect Jordy will get some yards, 500 to 700. He might get starting snaps at slot after all.

As side benefits, perhaps they hope Jordy can use the respect he should have to teach Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant how to run routes and play the game, and indeed perhaps can rub off on Derek Carr as well. IDK, really.

Oppy's picture

I think it has a lot to do with Jordy's ability to lead a young WR room.

I also think it has a lot to do with Reggie McKenzie and, particularly, Edgar Bennet.

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