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Is Jordy Nelson Done in Green Bay?

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Is Jordy Nelson Done in Green Bay?

It’s January 25th and the Super Bowl is still over a week away, but the offseason is in full effect in the offices at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. While a ton of difficult decisions have already been made, there are multiple others staring directly in the eyes of new General Manager Brian Gutekunst. 
 
Maybe one of the bigger decisions is what exactly to do with Jordy Nelson. There was no questioning that Nelson slowed down in 2017 but the bigger question was why and maybe more importantly, what does it mean for his future on the team.
 
I will help break this down by reviewing the following:
  • Has Jordy Nelson slowed down?
  • Even if he slowed down, can he still be successful on the timing and intermediate routes?
  • Was his decreased production simply a consequence of playing with Brett Hundley?
  • Can Jordy Nelson still be successful in 2018?
  • Does his current contract make sense for Green Bay to hold on to?
Has Jordy Nelson Slowed Down?
 
Yes. The simplest, easiest answer, is that yes, Jordy Nelson has slowed down and lost his second gear. Jordy at one time had the explosiveness both after the catch and at the top of the route to separate from defenders and based on 2017 that explosiveness is gone. Before I get to the tape, let’s look at some of the numbers via Pro Football Reference.
 
Let’s first take a look at the raw numbers from the last 4 full seasons:
 
 
As you can see, Nelson’s receptions, yards and touchdowns all had a severe drop off in 2017. 
 
Here you can get a visual of how Jordy’s catch percentage (the percentage of targets that he catches) has gone down over the past 8 seasons:
 
 
Here is Jordy’s Yards per target since 2011:
 
 
And here is Jordy’s yards per reception since 2011:
 
 
In every statistical sense you can see that Jordy Nelson’s numbers have declined and that 2017 was a statistical nightmare for the former star receiver.
 
All of that being said, statistics can only tell part of the story. Of course, as always, to get a full breakdown we need to review the tape. I will jump into some specific plays in a moment, but I highly recommend you review these three threads to get the full picture. (Note you will need to link out to Twitter to see every video in the threads).
 
Thread 1
 
Thread 2
Thread 3
If you reviewed the threads you will see a common theme throughout. As mentioned above, Jordy Nelson has simply lost his explosiveness and second gear. Let me show you a few quick examples of exactly what I mean:
 
Play 1 – 2014 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Play 2 – 2014 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I want to start with those two plays for a reason. In 2014, Jordy was playing one of his best seasons as a Packer and had not yet suffered the torn ACL. You can see quite clearly in both of these videos how he can separate at the top of the route. In the first video Jordy accelerates past the defender and has a good two yards of separation at the catch point; the cornerback has no chance.
 
In the second play, Rodgers throws the ball when Nelson is just a little bit behind the defender. By the time the ball gets there Nelson has beat his man so clean that the corner has no chance to make a play on the ball. These were the type of plays that Jordy Nelson could make consistently in 2014. 
 
Fast forward to 2017, and you see a lot of this:

As you can clearly see, the difference from 2014 to 2017 is quite evident. Jordy doesn’t have the explosiveness on the second level to make these types of plays with any level of consistency. Besides not being able to separate at the top of the route, you also saw a lack of explosion after the catch. This resulted in Jordy not having the same type of explosive plays that he was usually accustomed to. In 2014 he had a total of 8 plays over 40 yards. In 2017 he had only one play over 40 yards. In fact, from week 5 on, his longest catch of the season was only 26 yards. From week 7 on his longest catch was only 17 yards. Here you can clearly get a taste of what Nelson looked like in 2014:

Those were all plays from 2014, but in 2017, the only play over 33 yards, was this:

When watching the tape throughout the season, and re-reviewing it for this article, to me it was abundantly clear that Jordy lacks the same explosiveness that he had in 2014. What also changed, was how defensive backs played Nelson.
 
Can Nelson still be effective on short and intermediate timing routes?
 
So given the fact that Nelson has lost a step, and can’t challenge a defense deep like he once used to, does he still have value as a short to intermediate receiver and a red zone threat? The answer is a bit cloudy. 
 
Let’s start by going over what Nelson still does well. He still can put on a route running clinic when he wants to and he still can be successful hauling in passes at the catch point. He has an other-worldly ESP type connection with Aaron Rodgers both pre and post snap, and he’s reliable catching the football. All of those things bring value to the Packers. 
 
However, cornerbacks are now playing Nelson incredibly tight because they are not afraid of him beating them deep. This new aggressive, tight coverage on Nelson has affected Nelson in two ways. First, when corners respected Nelson’s deep ability, they were willing to give up the quick five to ten yard throws and live to see another down. Now, those quick pitch and catch plays have become contested and are no longer the sure thing they used to be. 
 
Secondly, when Nelson does secure a catch, the defensive back is right on him, making his run after the catch ability next to nothing. All of this lead to Nelson having a long catch of 17 yards from week 7 to the end of the season.
 
You can see some of these contested catches here:
 
Was 2017 an anomaly because of Brett Hundley?
 
I have zero doubt that Rodgers’ absence played a part in Nelson’s struggles and many people point to Nelson’s six touchdowns in the first five games with Rodgers (including a game against Atlanta where Nelson barely played). But this isn’t just about statistics. It wasn’t Brett Hundley’s fault that Nelson wasn’t able to get off of coverage deep and that Nelson was seeing tighter coverage on his intermediate routes. It wasn’t Hundley’s fault that Nelson had no explosion and couldn’t create yardage after the catch. Those are things that Nelson will need to overcome regardless of who is throwing passes to him in 2018. Nelson and Rodgers’ unique connection can help, but at the end of the day you have to beat the man across from you.
 
Can Jordy Nelson be successful in 2018?
 
Nelson’s not the same player he was even a season ago, but he still has value in the NFL. Nelson is going to have to find a way to reinvent himself in a similar vain to Larry Fitzgerald. Once Larry lost a step and couldn’t win on the outside he moved to the slot and became a successful slot receiver. The Packers have used Nelson more in the slot over the past two seasons and that’s really where his home should be going forward. 
 
I’ve mentioned it multiple times already but his connection with Aaron Rodgers is unique. Only connections like Manning to Harrison, Manning to Wayne or Young to Rice can boast the type of on-field relationship that Rodgers and Nelson has. That has value. 
 
Also when given time, Jordy has the ability to open up space with his route running and a variety of double moves. Even with the second gear gone, Nelson can still be dangerous. He’s not the same player he once was but when put in a position to succeed, Nelson can still provide value to Green Bay in 2018.
 
Is he worth his contract?
 
The easy answer, is no. There is almost no way that he is worth the $12.5+ million cap hit that he’s set to incur in 2018. Should Green Bay cut or trade Nelson they would only owe him $2.3 million. That said, I highly doubt that one of the first moves new GM Brian Gutekunst wants to make is releasing one of the top three most popular players on the team.
 
The result should be fairly obvious and that is some sort of restructure. Nelson isn’t a starting caliber receiver and he can no longer be effective on the outside. To make things worse, he’s counterfeit in the slot by the presence of Randall Cobb. The only thing keeping Nelson around is his timing with Rodgers, his familiarity with the offense, and his ability to find holes in zones and particularly in the red zone.
 
Nelson is past his prime and beginning to move forward with younger, faster receivers is ultimately the right way to go. A good compromise would be taking Nelson’s existing contract and making it a 2 year - $12.5 million contract instead of a 1 year - $12.5 million contract. Nelson would still see the full value of his current contract and more money than if Green Bay released him. Green Bay could kick in a few more guaranteed dollars to really make it worth Nelson’s while but that type of deal makes sense for both sides and allows Nelson to rightfully retire as a Green Bay Packer.
 
Today’s featured article will be the subject of a new segment on 107.5 and 1400 The Fan in Green Bay. You can catch me breaking down the film weekly with Marques Eversoll and friends from 9:50-10:00am on Friday’s. You can listen live, here: http://www.thefan1075.com/ 
 
 
 
To see my grades for the 2017 season and where Nelson ranked, click here: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/grading-the-pack-regular-season-totals-454 

 

__________________________

Andy Herman is an avid Packers fan and season ticket holder. He has graduated from National Football Post's and Sports Management Worldwide's NFL Scouting courses and is the owner of the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find him on Twitter @sconniesports.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (99) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Nice, comprehensive writeup.

First of all, throw out 2017. The only thing that matters is how Nelson does with Rodgers. That said, because he has a special timing with Rogers he's worth more to the Packers than other teams. And it benefits him to stay. If I was BG I would offer him a 2 year 10 million extension and spread out his hit to about 7 million a season. He can play with Rodgers in the slot for several more years.

RCPackerFan's picture

completely agree.

Nelson isn't a number one anymore. Thats not even in question. But in Green Bay he has more value then anywhere else. His timing and cohesiveness with Rodgers can't be matched.

I agree about the 2 year extension. Try and spread the money out.

John Kirk's picture

Jordy is such a technician and possesses such a knowledge of this offense that he has the trust of 12 and we've all seen and heard how important that is.

I'm not fully convinced Jordy is finished. He suffered a strange injury at Atlanta and wasn't the same. I'm hopeful that it actually had a lot to do with his decline along with Hundley.

No way can you pay him his current cap number as you noted.

Cobb has suffered a similar decline after he got his money that Jordy is going through right now. Not sure what is behind that decline but he had the AC joint issue that hurt him all year a few seasons ago. Our guys just can't stay healthy.

Way too much money going to guys who aren't available or are compromised too much to be valuable.

Hate to see Jordy go but wouldn't be opposed to it, IF, it wasn't about that injury at Atlanta last season.

dobber's picture

I hope you're right about the injury, although I don't remember him missing practice time after he returned. If it were an injury issue, I'd think they would rest him to try to get him right. Whatever the case, I agree: you can't hang onto guys for sentimental reasons.

John Kirk's picture

Why would they rest him? Remember Davante Adams from 2015. He was trotted out week after week with his ankle issues. I don't have any idea how injured or not injured he was but it's plausible what happened in Atlanta had a lot to do with his ineffectiveness. Chris Hogan got drilled on his shoulder way back in the regular season for the Patriots and still isn't right for them. He was reportedly only going to be out a few weeks. Never the same. Jordy is older coming off ACL surgery and I'm sure whatever the injury was it is a lot harder getting over it than it was when he was younger.

Jordy had zero targets in Atlanta. He was hurt after coming off an 8 target 7 for 79 and a TD vs. Seattle. Obviously, injured at Atlanta. The next 3 weeks with Rodgers he only received 12 targets total. Something happened there. 87 doesn't put up a very good game vs. Seattle and then just disappear for no reason but that's what happened. 8 targets in opener...12 over next 4 with Rodgers. 126 yards receiving in next 4 games after 79 in opener.

I also believe Martellus Bennett screwed lots of things up with his presence. Aaron was trying to get his new toy going early on and we all saw how that worked. Marty B had 6, 11, 4, 7 and 3 targets with Aaron. Not counting Minnesota. So, Marty had almost more targets in the Atlanta game alone than Jordy did in the 4 games after the opener.

That quad injury had to have an effect.

carlos's picture

I think you’re right John K. Bennett was a huge problem. None of us will ever know what he could’ve done to the locker room. It may have been worse than we can imagine.

Bill Atkinson's picture

6-7 mil a year is reasonable for what will be a veteran part time player, sounds about right. He might still surprise with Rodgers back, he was playing well till Rodgers got hurt.

ricky's picture

Nelson had six TDs the first five games of 2017. Then Rodgers got hurt and the rest is history. So, can he still be useful? Absolutely. Slot receiver for a reduced salary? Great. Spread it out for two or three more years, heavily front loaded. Or with a small cap hit if he's cut in later years. As was stated, that special connection with Rodgers will pay dividends, especially in the red zone, if 2017 is any measure.

EdsLaces's picture

If people don't blame his lack of production on Hundley they just ...arent smart. To think that Jordy still won't be damn good with AR back is also..not smart.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

If people don't attribute Jordy's roughly 15% drop in expected production (say 1100 yds to an extrapolated 920 yards had AR not gotten hurt) to age and some diminished athleticism, we just disagree.

Qoojo's picture

He was slower in 2017, but is he too slow? He got behind the Carolina defense, so he can't be that slow.

The packers shouldn't keep Nelson and Cobb at their current pay. Both need to take a cut or move on.

worztik's picture

Why are you all so eager to send Jordy packing? He’s the epitome of a Packer and deserves to be let out to pasture with great respect, celebration and grace!!! Aren’t many like him before or going forward!!! He’s a true champion and another BART STARR legacy!!!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

You all who? Everyone herr says to keep him.

The TKstinator's picture

Are you just sayin’ that?

Coldworld's picture

It comes back to an accurate assessment by the player evaluators. We need the best receivers that we can get and some must have speed. We need to get that. How that leaves the rest beyond Adams is anyone’s guess.

We can’t keep Cobb and Nelson at current pay. Would we try to keep both for less? Only if we can see them playing together in an effective offense. As I see Nelson as a slot player now, I think that is a sentimental dream. Cobb is in his 20s still. If he offers more, try to keep him first.

Players are what they are now, not what they were yesterday. The biggest mistake is to keep a player a year too long eating cap and taking playing time from others.

Hard choices, but we don’t have the luxury to keep a player unless he makes us better. I could see both being gone.

This is why GMs get paid big bucks and why sentimental ones have short careers.

worztik's picture

Yup!!!

Spock's picture

The Packers kept Donald Driver at least one, arguably two seasons too long (surprising under TT). Driver and Jordy are two of my favorite Packers, but the fact is that Jordy has lost at least a step. Cobb still gets separation, Jordy doesn't. It still floors me that people are saying cut Cobb and keep Jordy. On a non-emotional level that makes zero sense. We have a plethora of slot receivers: Cobb, Monty, Jordy, (& Allison & Adams as well as the RB Jones can certainly all play from there). I get the Rodgers ESP, but is that enough? Tough call for Gute.

carlos's picture

Agree 4thand one. Need a speed guy and a team always needs guys like Jordy and Driver. Guys like them can really make a difference on a team. Leaders who can help build the right attitude and chemistry. Lead by example. Smart guys.

Coldworld's picture

Allison is a fourth receiver at best without injury. Unless you rate Davis as a potential significant contributor or still think Janis can/will get an opportunity to be one, and I don’t, we need to retool our receivers. That means change and, to me, the only reason Cobb would not be assumed to be a fixture with Adams is his cap number. The rest are expendable if we are really planning to be a good offense over the next 4 to 5 years.

4thand1's picture

When you play with AR and lose him, the let down is huge. Jordy would be deadly in the slot. So that leaves us with no deep threat. Adams gets open but isn't a burner, we need a burner. This will be Gutes 1st big gut wrenching decision, cut him or hopefully extend him. Jordy is the type of guy that will do what's best for the team, and I for one don't want to see him in Minny. Those pricks would probably sign him the next day.

dobber's picture

I actually found myself looking up Ted Ginn's contract status during the NO/MIN game to see if he might happen to come available this off-season. He seems to be playing his best ball the last couple years.

CheesyTex's picture

When is Ginn a Free Agent?

dobber's picture

When he's almost as old as I am... ;)

I think he's got two more years on his deal in NO.

carlos's picture

Great post Nick. Need a speed guy. You also need guys like Jordy and Driver on teams. They lead by example, are smart and help bring a positive chemistry to a team.

carlos's picture

Sorry. Double post. I bad.

Nick Perry's picture

Mike Wallace...John Brown...Jaron Brown...Paul Richardson...Taylor Gabriel...Sammy Watkins......All of these guys are burners. These are all FA's who could be available when FA rolled around who could help the Packers in 2018. Out of these guys my choices would be Richardson, John Brown, or Sammy Watkins but at a decent price.

Now Allen Robinson would be my absolute favorite WR for the Packers to sign. He's coming off a knee injury which happened in the 1st quarter of week one in 2017. They might be able to sign him on a one year deal for reasonable money and get him HOOKED playing with a guy like Rodgers. From Bortles to Rodgers? Might be enough to lock him up providing he had a good season. I'd also like to see him paired with Adams and have Jordy working the slot. This would probably require cutting Cobb but if given the choice between Robinson and Cobb I'd take Robinson myself.

Bearmeat's picture

Very nice article. Thanks. I would like to see a similar write up on Cobb. It's clear one of them has to go, and the other has to he restructured. I just don't know which yet.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree with this. Get $4M in cap relief from one of the two WRs, cut the other, and end up with $13M to $14M in cap savings. Buy a boundary WR and we should still have quite a bit of change left over. Several options there. We can use a lot of the cap savings on a FA WR, or try to get more of a bargain. Perhaps Moncrief. Perhaps a John Brown. Still have a lot of cap savings to spend on another position, perhaps Trey Burton or a CB. Or we could go a little more expensive, with a Richardson, Robinson, Lee. Though their AAVs would be most of the cap savings, their cap hit in 2018 should still leave a fair amount of cap savings to use elsewhere. Still should draft a WR, but I think it is easier to find slot WRs than boundary deep threats.

Still waiting for Dobber or RC to persuade me which player to keep. i'd
keep Jordy and take the $9.5M cap savings by cutting Cobb, and $3M to $4M by restructuring Jordy fairly. By keeping Jordy, if we had to we could put him back at boundary if injuries hit and used Monty in the slot.

http://www.spotrac.com/research/nfl/market-values-for-50-notable-nfl-fre...

dobber's picture

Um...OK: If you're ultimately talking about cap relief and you need to cut one and restructure the other, it's my opinion that you need to cut Cobb and restructure Nelson. For one, I don't think the Packers have the leverage to get Cobb to re-do his deal. Second, Cobb's regression doesn't lead me to think that he'd have a renaissance sans Nelson, and that Nelson would be the more productive receiver in 2018. Third, I think both of these guys are gone before the 2020 season, anyway, so paying the younger guy on an extension (which would need to be 3-4 years) that they would be cutting him from anyway doesn't make sense. Fourth, as you say, slot WR are a dime-a-dozen, and Cobb hasn't shown productivity playing on the outside.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks. I came to this same conclusion earlier, but think I wrote it on another site. I like the flexibility of keeping Jordy since he could return to the boundary if Adams or the new FA boundary WR missed a game or two. And he sounds open to taking a pay cut or restructuring his money over 2 years.

Spock's picture

dobber (and TGR), Okay, now this makes sense to me. From a football view I didn't get the cut Cobb/keep Jordy idea. This explanation of the cap/negotiations aspects gives me a different perspective! Thanks!

Coldworld's picture

You may be right regarding Cobb’s cost. If so though, it simply underlines that Cobb is seen by the wider league as the stronger slot candidate. Jordy, if he stays will contribute, but he needs to be cheap and we would need to draft a replacement now. We have no true young slot candidate of real note. That in itself should lean towards the approach being to keep Cobb if we can.

Sorry that this will upset some but it is the kind of thinking necessary if we are to be contenders fir the rest of Rodger’s career.

Chuck Farley's picture

We all love Jordy and everything he has done for the pack. His forte, speed. The past two years he lost step one and two, and is now covered like a blanket. His break away days are done. I was hoping he would call it a career and go out with his head high. Rogers can't make him faster.

MarkinMadison's picture

So if you look at the data that Andrew pulled together it is clear that the downward trajectory was in place before Rodgers went down. Also, if you look at just thwe first five games, Jordy averaged only 12.1 yards per reception and 8.2 per target, which is at or below his numbers for 2016. At best, Jordy in 2018 will look like Jordy in 2016 - which was still good for 14 TDs and over 1200 yards. Cobb had ONE season like that in his career, and Adams still needs to crack the 1000 yard mark.

In terms of money, yeah, he probably needs to take a pay cut, and he has already publically said he would. He also agreed to team-friendly deals in the past. And when Cobb got paid more than him he never complained, not once.

dobber's picture

" Also, if you look at just thwe first five games, Jordy averaged only 12.1 yards per reception and 8.2 per target, which is at or below his numbers for 2016. "

True, but all 5 teams the Packers played in their 4-1 start finished in the top 12 in passing yards allowed. Aggregate stats can be misleading (and Dallas was particularly soft early in the year), but that doesn't help.

Since '61's picture

Jordy is a good football player. Yes, he is not as fast as he was before his injury and he should probably be moved to the slot if the Packers keep him. I hope the Packers keep him because the Packers need good football players. Not only does Jordy have a great rapport with Rodgers but Jordy would make a great mentor for younger receivers.
If the Packers decide to keep Jordy they should restructure his contract and draft another 1 or 2 WRs. If they decide to go to FA for a WR then it's more likely they will release Jordy for the cap space sign a veteran WR and maybe draft another.
Assuming Jordy would move to the slot if kept that would be 3 slot receivers; Jordy, Cobb and Monty. To me that's one player too many and in that case I would expect Cobb to be released. The decisions made with Jordy and Cobb could give us an insight into Gute's philosophy about building the roster. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

Coldworld's picture

I would like to see him as a swing player pre snap and as a second running back in two back sets with both Williams and Jones. That would mean he would be a slot type receiver some of the time.

stockholder's picture

As much as you say restructure. Is he done? No./\. I wouldn't sign any FA until they cut him. Or Retirement. Cut Cobb, lose Janis. Cut Allison. Then they'll ," Find that long term answer". Cause it sure the heck isn't Adams either.

Coldworld's picture

Adams is like Jennings. Who is what Jordy was in that tandem? Find one and Adams will be a real weapon. Few receivers make a winning team without complimentary receiving threats. For example, Calvin Johnson.

Bedrock's picture

You may be right about Jordy losing a step, but most of that analysis is built of comparison to his defender. I’m more of a data analysis guy. Use the video to time and calculate his speeds.

Joshua Snyder's picture

Looks plenty fast to me. Week 15, 2017.

https://twitter.com/The_Green_Gold/status/953311017081229312

Finwiz's picture

Good find. He seems to play inspired ball with Rodgers under center.
I don't think his heart was into playing with Hundley.

Tundraboy's picture

No.

Mojo's picture

Not sure I agree with all the analysis here. Maybe Jordy's not what he was, but I think it's not as precipitous as presented here. For example examining the five videos following the caption "Fast forward to 2017, and you see a lot of this:" I come up with a slightly different narrative.

The first one against the Cowboys, the pass is clearly underthrown forcing Jordy to completely turn around and slow down to even have a chance. Bad throw.

The second one against Minny, he was well covered. Can't tell if it was 4.31 40 time Trae Waynes in coverage on that one, but nonetheless Jordy has to track the ball on his route. He went where the ball was and the DB was able to also. Good coverage plain and simple. Don't know what else Jordy could have done on that play.

The third one against Chicago, Jordy has the dude beat inside. A throw to the numbers and he's off to the races. Instead the pass floats towards the boundary. Bad pass.

The fourth one - a deep route down the seam, Jordy gets past the DB despite a 10 yard cushion. If the QB goes over the top near the numbers it's a long completion. Instead the pass is late and inside allowing the safety to get over. Bad throw.

The last one I don't care how much speed a WR has he's not going to blow by a DB who has a 15 yard cushion and the boundary to help squeeze the receiver. It's just not a pattern any receiver is going to blow by a DB. A well placed ball might allow Jordy to snatch it away else that play was dead on arrival.

From what I saw Jordy still has the long stride and the ability to get on the DB quick. If you rewatch some of the 2014 footage note how precise most of the passes are.

To me Jordy's fall off in 2017 is mostly synchronized with advent of number 7 at QB.

flackcatcher's picture

I agree Mojo. Andrews analysis is misleading. Speed is misunderstood in football. It's not how fast, but how quickly a player can gain separation in the 5 yards that determines who wins on any giving play. Nelson is in Steve Smith territory in his route running, he is that good. Your points about Nelson are dead on. Andrew, like most video geeks in football is watching Nelson after his breaks, not before. Nelson is the best in hiding his route breaks, it is the main reason he gets bracket coverage even when Rodgers went down. D. Adams may be the most entertaining at ankle breaking DB before he goes into his route package. He is flat out fun to watch. The pass game in pro football is completely different from the college game, and the pass game in Green Bay is completely different for the other teams in the NFL. Rodgers is on another planet vs other top tier NFL QB (even Brady). Hundley could not read Nelson or Cobb's breaks at the line, it was no wonder that he locked on to Adams. Poor kid was out of his depth, that's on the Head Coach to correct. An as we all know, MM never did.

DD's picture

Hundley was the problem. Release him. Couldn't read field or coverages. Restructure Nelson and Cobb both, and platoon them. If a receiver goes down you still can plug in a veteran receiver! Unlike plugging in no show improvement Hundley. If they don't restructure then it's their choice and the Packers to decide; in which case one or the other will help make the decision for the Pack. I don't think Nelson or Cobb will be highly regarded FA's by many teams.

Jack Dupp's picture

Even in the Minny game, on film Nelson's left arm disappears the last 15 yards of the route because it's being held down by the DB. Hard to run fast with one arm.

Jack Dupp's picture

two.

CAG123's picture

Here’s a question, based on contracts given to Kan Chancellor (12 mil) and Micah Hyde (6 mil) they’re is a possibility that Morgan Burnett could ask for and get 10 mil on the open market. Do you guys think he’s worth that type of money for the Packers? We’re talking about a safety that has 9 career interceptions, 7.5 sacks, 8 FF, and 9 FR not exactly a guy they should be breaking the bank for. I think MB has been solid throughout his career nothing more nothing less.

flackcatcher's picture

It's the going rate for a top tier DB in today's pass happy NFL. Before his injury this season in the Dallas game, I thought he could command 10-15 million in the up coming FA market. Burnett plays three different positions well in today's defenses, and can play CB in a pinch if needed. Just watch the Packer defense in the Bears game early last season. The drop off in the entire defense was shocking when Burnett was out. He is that rare player who by his very presence, makes every one around him better. His low offer for starters will be in the 9-12 million dollar range. And seeing how the FA market has quickly balloon out, 12-15 million is not out of the question. Man is going to get paid, only who and what team pays him is unknown at this point.

DD's picture

Good leadership, but over 10 million based on production? I would say no. Draft or free agent could prove to be the answer if he decides over 10 million is his asking price.

DD's picture

Good leadership, but over 10 million based on production? I would say no. Draft or free agent could prove to be the answer if he decides over 10 million is his asking price.

4zone's picture

Not worth a double digit salary. 5-6 Mil/Per yea. He sure isn't in the league of Kam Chancellor

CAG123's picture

The key word is top tier, which he is not and hasn’t produced like one at any given points in his career. I definitely can’t look at a game against the Bears as proof of his dominance and at 29 it would be silly to give him that kind of money. The production just isn’t there and he’s been pretty banged up so if he feels like he should be making anything upwards of 8 million a year the Packers should definitely let him walk and let another team overpay for an average safety. If we saw something similar to Charles Woodson’s ability to play linebacker, safety, and corner well then that’s a different story.

flackcatcher's picture

It is not how we fans look at Burnett, it's how the other NFL teams see him. Hyde got 6 million base and 3 million up front based on his value. Being a DB and starter increases his value in a already inflated FA market. So the 9 million to 12 million is based on what the league values. What we think, and what GM's in the NFL think are two different things. I'll say this again, DB is the new 'rare' item in today's pass happy NFL. Packers thought they could get Hyde back for 4-6 million. When the front office (ie: Russ Ball) saw the first bids, they did not even submit an offer. We still don't know who and how the new front office structure will play out. But don't kid yourself, Burnett is going to be paid FA starters money in the NFL. We just don't know who is going to pay him.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I have the greatest difficulty following you, Flak, when you talk about contracts. Hyde got $6M base? You mean AAV? Hyde got $3M up front? No idea what you're talking about. Hyde got an $8M signing bonus, and had his 2017 base salary of $2.3M guaranteed, so a sure $10.4M. And his contract is not team friendly either.

Still, I agree with you. I don't think Burnett has ever been more than above average. I'd think about $8M, maybe even $9M, but I just don't think he is worth more than that. I think you're right though, someone probably will think he's worth $10M+, though.

flackcatcher's picture

Sorry, my bad. I was going off early reports on Hyde's FA contract with the Bills. When I was posting this I knew he had a total 10 million and his signing bonus was around 8 million. I was thinking about Haywood and Williams FA contracts when they signed compared with Hyde. Brain fart man. (pounds head on desk. many, many times.....)

Coldworld's picture

I want to agree, but part of me wonders how much of this is a reflection of how he was used, particularly latterly. I guess we will find out, but if we lose him we had better get a vet. Safeties take a while to be decent. Collins took 3 years. We have no candidate I think close to being starting caliber on the roster behind HHCD and Burnett.

flackcatcher's picture

Your point about the time it takes to develop DB, especially at the SS position is spot on. Going back over my comments, I think I was not clear on this point. Safeties like Burnett are prized because they can cover up other players failures on the field. Burnett was one of the few players who could position his defensive team mates presnap. His understanding of what rival offenses would do on the field was understated. But every team targeted him when he was out on the field. That kind of ability gets you paid. And the Packers have no one who can do what Burnett does. NO ONE. (Brice and Evans, I shudder.....)

Lphill's picture

Jordy not going anywhere Rodgers will make sure of that , probably restructure with incentives . Would the Patriots take away one of Brady's guys without him having a say in it , I don't think so .

Coldworld's picture

Yes. They have on a number of occasions. There is no loyalty in NE once ability wanes. It has been a key factor in their continual renewal.

Coldworld's picture

sentiment loses seasons.

croatpackfan's picture

Just to add to the discussion - Jordy already publicly said that he is open for restructuring his contract and that he would prefer to retire as Packer....

DD's picture

Tough decisions. Love both Nelson and Cobb, but somethings got to give. We definitely need a burner to complement Adams, and a big, fast TE. So I say restructure both Cobb and Nelson for two year contracts at 6 million each. Platoon them in the slot; fresh legs, know the system. That way if a receiver gets nicked, likely, you still have a veteran stepping in. Unlike Hundley stepping in for Rodgers!! Thoughts?

Hawg Hanner's picture

Thank you for one of the best analytic articles one could ask for. I agree Jordy has hit the wall and for the good of the team has to retire or be waived. Why mess around another year even at a veteran minimum salary when the ability to make a big play has so diminished.
Cobb has great hands and can get open too. We need speed and deep threats.

carlos's picture

I think Philbin can scheme up some great routes to utilize what Jordy has left.

Handsback's picture

Jordy washed up? I seriously doubt it. You have to throw out this year and look at next year to see how effective he is. Cut his pay, sure. You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Coldworld's picture

For next season yes but we are not just thinking of next season are we. If we are to turn the Packers around we must plan to have the best team over the next 4 to 5 year period. This logic is at odds with that in my view.

navydisposaleer's picture

In those video replays, are the defenders getting faster and are the teams shown not of the same calibre? It could be that the offensive pass routes simply aren't as effective in today's game as in the past few years. Just asking.

4zone's picture

Number 1 - No way you get rid of him just on stats.
Stats for first 5 games (missed Atlanta due to injury) he put up the following:
TDs - 6 (on pace for 18 for the year)
Yards - 290, ave 58 per game (on pace for 870)
Average for long catch in each game - 30.6 yards. His shortest long in a game before Brett started was 14 his only game that was lower than his highest with BH which was 17. His longest play was 58 yards which ain't bad.

Put him in the slot, draft Ridley and put him and Adams wide and you have the makings of one lethal passing attack!

Tundraboy's picture

Any discussion of Jordy being done is just sill He's not as fast as he once was, but a lot of last year had to do simply with Rodgers not being there. That's obvious. For me it's more important being on the roster, more critical than normal as he's going to be an example to the other players of what it means to be a Packer and that can only help their development. Lead by example.

billybobton's picture

Once again I admire the work of the article and video but the comments tend to be far more accurate than the writer

It is tough to understand how someone could do all the work for an article like this and not watch video, not watch how open Jordy is on several of the videos and the ball does not come, the routes Jordy got open deep on v the panthers are missing

you can justify your conclusion ahead of time but the video did not support it

Andy Herman's picture

You do realize the videos where he is open are from 2014, right?

He still got open from time to time in 2017 but it was much less often, the separation wasn't there the vast majority of the time.

Again, when you watch every target from 2014 and every target from 2017 you start to realize the difference in explosion, both the tape and the stats don't lie in this occasion.

Jack Dupp's picture

Nelson's production more to do with change in QB/gameplan than loss of a step. And, while I admit Jordy looked slower at times this year and I appreciate the work done by the author, there are some things overlooked in this analysis.

For example, including Nelson’s 2011 stats to show a decline ignores the fact that from his rookie season through 2011 he was basically a #2, 3, or 4 WR. Add to that the fact that his 2011 season stats are historically unique. The NFL has tracked targets for 25 years. In that time, NO ONE in the league has achieved Nelson's productive efficiency in 2011 - 68 rec for 1263 yds and 15 TDs on only 96 targets. You can find comparative numbers here…Player Season Finder | Pro-Football-Reference.com. Just search WR seasons with equal to or less than 120 targets. Sort however you like. Any subsequent season will certainly show a decline.

Any observation from before the ACL, film or stats, clearly shows Jordy was one of the best all-around WRs in the game for the first half of this decade. Guys his size with hands, body control, brains, and his top end speed do not grow on trees. That version of Jordy Nelson will be missed and will be very hard to replace (as it was in 2015). A healthy and maturing Adams will help. He’s a different WR with his own abilities, but Davante hasn’t come close to prime Nelson in terms of productivity. Time will tell.

In regards to Jordy’s 2016 which everyone seems to forget…Well, he missed pretty much all of camp and basically had to play himself back into shape. In his first six games, he looked off. BUT barely over a year ago, Nelson was finishing a stretch of 10 games where he averaged 7 catches on 10 targets for 93.6 yards and .9 TDs per game. That’s probably the best production in the league at the WR position over that stretch.

Less than a year later, six games into the season Nelson’s leading the league in TDs and no one’s questioning anything. Okay, the yardage isn’t there but the OL is in shambles and there’s no time for longer developing deep routes. Then it all ends. For the second time in Jordy’s career, the Packers lose Rodgers and are completely unprepared at backup QB.

Enter Hundley…Ironically, Jordy’s best game with Hundley was probably the Vikings game when Rodgers left. Why? Because the gameplan was designed for Rodgers and not Hundley. And defenses had no idea Hundley couldn’t hit the broad side of a bus with a downfield pass. I don’t think anyone can dispute that or the fact that Nelson runs most of the Packer’s deep routes. Can anyone think of more than a couple of nicely thrown deep balls like the one to Adams in the Bears game (where Adams was tightly covered BTW) over the course of Hundley’s entire season? Most of the deep throws were off, and the one’s he completed were to guys who were wide open (busted coverage in Steeler’s game, Adams double move).

Not only did defenses recognize this, but the whole Packers offensive gameplan changed due to this limitation. Entire games with almost all of Hundley’s passes travelling less than 7 yards. Nelson’s typical game with Hundley was 5 or 6 targets with 3 around the LOS and maybe one inaccurate deep shot that at best drew PI and at worst was picked. Hundley forced the Packers to change the gameplan and Jordy was relegated to blocking and running clearing routes. For all the clips of Nelson you posted, there are still more of Jordy getting separation and a ball is delivered in the dirt, or behind him, or late, or never delivered at all. Even if Jordy was consistently getting behind defenses, does anyone think Hundley had the accuracy, patience, or vision to get the ball downfield to him? (see Jordy wide open running down the center of the field in the Lions game while Brett drops his eyes and panics at the hint of pressure).

If you broke down all the time Jordy ran deep routes, I bet you’d find a pretty good percentage where he got enough separation or drew some sort of PI. You’ve pretty much presented all the ones where he’s been covered, but not all the routes he ran. For every clip you have of Jordy running downfield, I can go through the coaches film and find a matching clip of Julio Jones or Antonio Brown with corners running stride for stride. The difference is those guys were given opportunities to make plays with balls that were catchable.

As for the short to intermediate stuff, well sure defenses played tighter. Is that because Nelson was slower or Hundley’s inadequacies forced an offensive game plan that was reluctant to throw the ball deep? I’d say more of the latter.

So, has Jordy lost it? Was he playing hurt (Nelson’s never been forthcoming about injuries)? Is it the gameplan? Is it the QB? No doubt a combo of all the things to different degrees just as you suggest. I’m sure the team knows far more than any of us and will do a much deeper evaluation. I tend to think Jordy’s still pretty much the player he was in 2016 and would like to see him come back for another couple of seasons and finish his career as a Packer. If he comes back next season, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get over 1000 yds and and 10 TDs.

4zone's picture

Nice breakdown JD.

Mojo's picture

A lot of good points Jack. Especially the one on check-down Hundley.

There was a point in his stint that I didn't know if he was ever going to throw a pass over ten yards again.

And I think most of that was by design (MM). McCarthy wanted to go to the quick-hitters because Hundley was having trouble diagnosing routes, taking sacks and killing drives. Hundley does throw the quick-outs and slants pretty well though, so they just went with that. Adams benefited the most with the new approach.

Hard for a WR to put up big numbers when he's just running clearing routes so the QB can dump underneath.

Coldworld's picture

Agree wholeheartedly that Hundley was a WR’s nightmare. But one cannot ignore old Father Time. Assume I’m wrong and you are right as of today. How long will that last. Are we building a team for future Superbowls or simply to be better than 2017 in 2018?

I for one think that our offense was nice that good with Rodgers and that it needs renewal. Hanging on to a player because we like him is not helping to open room for real improvement. One day every receiver declines and that can be a sharp precipice. Are you willing to gamble Super Bowl chances on the strength of what appears to be “he hasn’t lost too much yet”?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nelson had 6 receptions for 60 yards in the game AR got hurt. 1 rec for 10 yards from AR, and 5 recs for 50 yards from Hundley. Sample size is small but I agree that what mattered most is the game plan followed closely by Hundley's limitations.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

duplicate deleted.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Jordy Nelson's fine he'll get two more years of over a thousand yards...
But we do need a deep threat. Of course, I still like Jarvis Landry for the slot position I know a lot of people disagree with me but the guys pretty good

4thand1's picture

The 49ers let Joe and Jerry walk and still won a SB. But they had Steve Young, we don't have Steve Young to replace AR.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

This just on the news.

"Well running dry with WRs Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson expected to be franchised"

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Randall Cobb should go and we sign Jarvis Landry

Arthur Jackson's picture

Rodgers has had to totally throw Jordy open the last two seasons. I didn't need to read this thread because I already saw the lack of separation. Look at 2013 with Rodgers out. His numbers went down slightly, but he still made plays and put up big numbers. Much like what Adams did this year with Rodgers out.

I liked Jordy from the day he was picked, but there is no need for any extensions. Either he is good enough to be kept at the current salary or cut if they feel they have someone better. That way after next season he is completely off the books. History says post-merger only 37 players his age or older have had a 1,000 yard receiving season and only 7 had double-digit TD receptions.

Mojo's picture

In 2013 it helped he had Flynn throwing to him instead of Hundley.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

"Either he [Nelson] is good enough to be kept at the current salary or cut if they feel they have someone better."

No idea why this would be true.

KamThomps's picture

Jordy will be just fine with Rodgers under center again. Trying to force synergy with Hundley that did not exist was an exercise in futility. McCarthy should have put Janis in, particularly on those third and longs when he called run plays. We would have beaten the Steelers if he had, and who knows who else. While it rocks to have spectacular (Rodgers), yeoman work can get the job done, as we well know. Jordy will be tremendous in the slot for us. His playing days are far from over.

PACKERNICK's picture

I agree. Two speedsters in Janis and Trevor Davis. The Pack can't seem to make use of it.

carlos's picture

Put Janis andDavis in against a certain CB and run the crap out of him. When he’s exhausted put Jordy in. Just some crazy strategies.

Coldworld's picture

Davis is small, Janis never plays. Two currently ineffective receivers that happen to be fast don’t mean we can’t use one. The last speed receiver who could run routes and catch that we had was used rather a lot: Jordy Nelson.

carlos's picture

Great work. Thanks. All I can say is if he wasn’t in Green Bay the Patriots would snatch him up. I think he’s better in the slot than Cobb anymore. Probably be an awesome coach.

carlos's picture

Agree with you Nick. Great post.

56 Packfan's picture

Every Packer fan loved what Jordy had done for the team during his career. But let's face the facts. When T.J. Watt covered Jordy like a blanket during the Pittsburgh game, I knew his career is over. How can a rush LB cover a slot receiver? Only if the slot receiver is not NFL caliber. Deep inside, I am sure Jordy knows this.

I remember when Bart Starr threw an out and hit Lem Barney for a pick 6 in his first NFL game. You knew right then that Father Time has arrived to claim one of the greats.

Jack Dupp's picture

Sure, Watt made one really good play on a ball that was thrown late. But there were two other times Watt tried to run downfield with Jordy. The play before the one you mentioned where Nelson turned Watt around deep down the near sideline and another (7:14 left in Q2) where Nelson simply ran by him and had about 4 yards on him downfield with nothing but the end zone in front of him. Hundley missed both opportunities because he panicked at the hint of a rush. Hundley doesn't recognize matchups, has no anticipation and drops his eyes all the time, yet the take away from this game is linebackers can cover Nelson. Sorry, but All 22 shows Jordy open plenty in this game.

Ryan Graham's picture

Very good article.

I know this probably wasn't the intention, but to me this just begs the question. Gute has 1 contract, 2 years for 13M plus performance bonuses...on too of that he's got 2 guys in Nelson and Cobb, both familiar with the slot. Nelson is gonna be 33, Cobb is gonna be 27 I believe? I can't imagine both will be wearing Green and Gold next year, so who is?

holmesmd's picture

No, none of us can. The roster will be re-evaluated from top to bottom. It should be with hopefully fresh sets of eyes. I love Nelson & Cobb but you are what you produce in the NFL. I hope both guys can restructure and realize that another ring or 2 might be more valuable than FA money. These guys epitomize quality Packers. Let’s give them some respect & consideration in these discussions. It is unkind and unfair not to do so IMO.

Finwiz's picture

This is a great perspective, and I agree with you 100%.
Both very quality individuals that have been major contributors over the years.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

So can someone tell me who are receivers are going to be for 2018 please.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

So can someone tell me who are receivers are going to be for 2018 please?

And who will be our TE

And will be the Right Tackle

And B/U QB?

And 3rd RB?

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