Packers at a Crossroads With Jordy Nelson

Change is in the air in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

After a promising start to the 2017 season—a 4-1 mark, a couple of thrilling, last-second victories—the walls suddenly came crashing down for the Green Bay Packers when Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. Now, 11 weeks later, the Packers are staring at their first .500 or worse season since 2008—the last time they missed the playoffs—and the chorus of voices calling for change grows louder every day.

In addition to front office and coaching shifts the Packers may or may not be mulling, there will inevitably be roster decisions to be made, perhaps none tougher than the one concerning Jordy Nelson.

Just as the Packers’ season changed when Rodgers was carted off the field that day in Minnesota, so, too, did Nelson’s. During the team’s 4-1 start, Nelson hauled in six touchdowns and averaged 12.1 yards per catch. Since then, he has failed to reach the end zone and his average reception has gone for just over seven yards, with 35 yards being his single game high.

To be fair, part of what has made Rodgers and Nelson the most prolific quarterback/receiver duo in Packers’ history—they’ve connected for 65 touchdowns—is a sort of unspoken chemistry between the two.

Nelson has seemingly always had the rare ability to know exactly what Rodgers is thinking on a given a play, and that has allowed Nelson to be in the right spot more often than not in critical moments. It is undoubtedly the product of many, many practice reps and sidebar conversations, which makes it understandable that he never seemed to form a solid connection with Brett Hundley.

Instead, Davante Adams, who is slated to become a free agent after this season, has been the breadwinner in the receiving corps. As a result, his services will come at a premium if the Packers wish to re-sign him.

As it stands now, Nelson accounts for the fourth-most salary cap space on Green Bay’s roster, with Randall Cobb third. Nelson is slated to make $10.25 million next year, the final year of his current deal. Cobb, also entering the final year of his contract, is scheduled to make $9.5 million. Assuming Adams doesn’t give the Packers any kind of discount, he will probably command somewhere in the area of $11-12 million per year on a new deal.

Long story short: the Packers simply can’t afford—and won’t be willing—to keep all three at those prices.

From a future production standpoint, it makes the most sense to hang on to Cobb, who will turn 28 next year, and re-sign Adams, whose trajectory is only going up at this point.

One option Green Bay could pursue is asking the 10th-year veteran to sign an extension and restructure his deal, lessening his cap number and helping to spread the money elsewhere.

If he’s unwilling to do that, however, it may be time for the Packers to say goodbye. According to Spotrac, releasing Nelson would result in Green Bay absorbing just a $2.3 million cap hit—a bargain, considering he would count $12.55 million against the cap if kept on his current contract.

Before his one-game return, Aaron Rodgers told reporters he believed Nelson still had juice left in him. Nelson, once a formidable field-stretcher, turns 33 next year and clearly isn’t the deep threat he once was. If the Packers can’t find a way to keep him around at a lower cost, they may have to move on—unceremonious as it might be—and go in a new, younger direction.

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Comments (50)

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DukeDivine's picture

December 29, 2017 at 11:44 am

Love ya Jordy but they gotta cut ya... No use restructuring because there will be ascending talent at a cheaper price heading in the right direction of their careers while Jordy, albeit restructured, is headed in one direction and one direction only with every passing moment... Thanks for everything 87!

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4zone's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Who is ascending? Adams has arrived and everyone else is stagnant. Jordy can be had for less, Cobb is the question. Jury is still out on Adams. It will depend on how long it takes him to clear the concussion protocol, which he still hasn't cleared. The longer that takes, the more red flags will go up on him. He may sadly already be damaged beyond long term dependability.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Who would that be? Davis? Janis? Allison? Clark? Allison maybe but still would rather keep Nelson a season or two on a cheaper deal then roll with the four mentioned above.

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DukeDivine's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Ascending talent from FA, draft, or on the team already. It could come from anywhere. Jordy is spiraling down and if you haven't seen that from his lack of burst and lack of any separation than you haven't been watching... Love the guy, but it will only be worse next fall... Father time is undefeated whether the green and gold glasses let you see it or not. Only way he should get a roster spot is at league minimum and playing in the slot as he has an uncanny chemistry with Rodgers and can still find holes in a zone in the middle of the field. Man to man on the outside he is D.O.N.E done. IMO.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm

No we dont cut Jordy. He has a solid 2 years left of 900_1000 yards

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Rossonero's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Jordy was having another excellent year until Rodgers went down. I think he'd understand if the Packers wanted to restructure his contract.

Pete Prisco on CBS sports made a good point that Rodgers "throws" Jordy Nelson open a lot.

He's not washed up by any means, but it'd be awful to end your career on a 7-9 team and playing most of the season without your good friend and ace QB.

I say let him finish his contract at a reduced rate and give it one more try with Rodgers though, not Brett Hundley.

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Funcrusher's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Cut Cobb. Resign Adams. Move Jordy to the slot like Larry Fitzgerald did later in his career.

Jordy may not have the speed his used to, but he's fast enough to blow past linebackers and big enough to manhandle smaller slot corners. Plus, he's great at getting open in space, especially when the play breaks down.

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DukeDivine's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm

I agree. What sucks is they have nothing on the roster up and coming. Davis sucks. Allison is decent but will never be Jordy-like. Clark is clunky and has alligator arms. Cobb may be as done if not more done than Jordy. Adams looks so much more explosive than anyone else on the roster its scary if he leaves in FA or gets hurt next year. Just another position of need on the Tinkerin Ted Xmas list...

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Funcrusher's picture

December 29, 2017 at 03:30 pm

Allison is decent but kind of limited. I think Clark has a lot of upside and could be the guy. Maybe they'll have to spend another high pick on a wr. Who knows?

In the end, you don't need three elite wr's. Bring back Adams. Jordy may reemerge as a star in the slot. With what's left, I think they can rotate guys to fill the other outside wr spot, and they'll be just fine.

If they could get a tight end, that would reeeeaaallly help, too.

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rdent's picture

December 30, 2017 at 05:29 am

Way too early to judge M. Clark.

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DukeDivine's picture

December 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm

Not too early. You watch last game? 3 catches, 39 yards. 2 huge drops on good throws and big moments in the game. Janis 2.0. There's your judgement

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4zone's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:21 pm

ASC is mostly right except hold off on Adams for several weeks yet. Packers may want to go with a one year deal to see if he can make it through a year without another concussion. You may want to Franchise him but that's an awful lot of money. Then again, if he does get concussed again, it could mean his career and it wouldn't be a bad way to go out. They need to rework Cobb's contract or cut him. Montgomery can take his place if need be.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Ask Cobb and Nelson to restructure. Guessing Nelson would for sure, Cobb not so much. So trade him for a TE. Nelson in the slot. Resign Adams as the #1. Give Allison more reps. Draft a WR in the second.

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DukeDivine's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:40 pm

I like it

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OrganLeroy's picture

December 29, 2017 at 03:53 pm

It's amazing how fans think you can just trade one guy for another guy like turning on a light switch.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

December 29, 2017 at 04:50 pm

You don't think Cobb has trade value? My wishful thinking is all. If TT isn't our GM Cobb could be traded for a decent TE.

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Oppy's picture

December 30, 2017 at 02:47 pm

Dude has a point: Player-for-player trades are excedingly rare in the NFL.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Jordy has 2 solid years left of ful solid production of about 900-1000 yards. The 3rd year at 35 years old he will get 1/2 his stats that being about 500_600 yards. I am basing this on other prolific receiver stats.

So he has 2.5 years left.

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Oppy's picture

December 30, 2017 at 02:48 pm

Prolific WRs that suffered an ACL injury?

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 29, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Waiting to see how many of the ' Keep Donald Driver ' screamers come out an defend Nelson. Especially since a major part of Nelson's decline was via the Rodgers loss and the ' Hundley Effect ' and not as easily noticeable via ability as like Driver. To add, which made it easier for ' any defense ' to look great....which is why ours always looks/told is great in practice. Less not forget the ' veteran presence ' defense that was also amok for Driver.

I believe Nelson stays another year at the salary due him since he already gave his version of Discount Double Check already. Release him and save $10 mil is only good if the cheap one spends it correctly after Nelson is signed elsewhere and proves the move wrong even if for one year only. Since every year is a more profound nail in the SB coffin with Rodgers.

On the other hand, does it really matter with all the changes wished for since the first year of the new won't get you what's desired.

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GBPackerBacker12's picture

December 29, 2017 at 01:09 pm

Nelson is not going anywhere else. If Green Bay wants to cut him, he will retire before seeking employment elsewhere. That seems obvious to me. I think what ultimately happens is Nelson finishes out his contract and plays for the Pack next year (he has said that is how he would want to go out), then retires once his contract is up. I bet he would even be willing to take a pay cut for this final year too.

IMO, when he plays next year, he will post good numbers. He might not have the deep speed anymore, but he can still be an extremely reliable possession receiver, and would be a terror out of the slot. I don't think there should be any question that we keep him for 1 final year.

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GeorgiaCheesehead's picture

December 29, 2017 at 01:32 pm

Jordy stays!! You cannot replace his chemistry with AR. And yes I have watched the games. Don’t be fooled by this debacle that occurred this year with Hundley.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 30, 2017 at 11:54 am

I totally agree Jordy still has a couple really good years left I would pick up Donte Moncrief free agency I would maybe keep Cobb if he wanted to take a huge pay cut. I also still like Geronimo Allison but I would also draft a wide receiver either the first or second round I hope Michael Clark has a good game we'll see tomorro. May have to put him back on the practice squad next year but I hope he has a good game tomorrow

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Bearmeat's picture

December 29, 2017 at 01:36 pm

The problem if you ask both to take a pay cut, and both do, is that the WR corps is average to below average right now, with NO speed. Who's going to be developed if the top 3 are Adams, Jordy, Cobb, again?

Further, I don't care how much we all love Jordy, he simply does not have the speed to be a boundary WR anymore. The only thing he is effective at outside the numbers is the backshoulder with ARod. That's not worth even 7 mil a year. Jordy is a slot WR at this point, and we have too many of those already.

Throw in the fact that Randall is really good at beating zones over the middle, is excellent playing "sandlot" time (Rodgers time), and is much younger, and I think we all have our answer, even if we don't want to admit it.

We need young talent at WR to develop. Those reps wont be there unless one of our top 3 goes. It's been a great Packers career, but it's time, Jordy. :(

That is, unless TT and MM keep the stupid loyalty that has kept this roster aging since 2014. Man. Fire them both.

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stockholder's picture

December 29, 2017 at 01:46 pm

Ok Lets do this: Nelson Cut, Cobb Cut. Adams Pay the man. Janis is leaving. Ok that leaves Allison. Slow but beat out Janis. Clark More of a TE. And Davis - 1 arm brings him down. Why would Adams sign if you'll only cut him in two years? Why bitch about not using enough Cap money when you want everyone cut. I thought TT lost his nut. Forget the defense and with the first 5 picks just take Wrs for A-rod. Your only playing fantasy football. Any GM will be all over Cobb , Nelson, Adams , and Janis. Yes even Janis. Let's just keep giving All -pros away. Yep the magical wand fixes everything. Reverse thinking will only go so far. Keep what you got, and give Nelson and Cobb a second chance to make good on their contracts.

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ShanghaiKid's picture

December 29, 2017 at 02:10 pm

Completely agree, this whole notion of cutting Nelson and Cobb makes no sense. When Packers let their WR's walk it's because they had great talent behind them. What does the roster look like if we let Cobb and Nelson go? Adams, (if he resigns) would be paired with Allison/Clark outside, and probably Monty in the slot. Like it or not fans, they're here to stay because there is literally nobody else in the wings who can replace their production.

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Oppy's picture

December 30, 2017 at 02:52 pm

Remember when everyone said there was nobody to replace Greg Jennings production?

What did we learn?

Two things.

1) We have WRs who can step in and produce with Rodgers feeding them the ball

2) Sometimes the WR who can't be replaced doesn't do so great when Rodgers isn't feeding them the ball

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rdent's picture

December 30, 2017 at 05:31 am

Janis isn't going anywhere, he is a key ST player.

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stockholder's picture

December 29, 2017 at 03:55 pm

It's being reported that Adams is about to sign 4 years @ 58 mil. Very Dumb if it's true.

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Rebecca's picture

December 29, 2017 at 05:00 pm

"Its being reported." I heard from an associate close to the team that Adams is signing with Vikings in March. Some have also said that Adams' concussion history makes him a perfect fit in New England. Word on the street is that Adams is retiring. An unnamed source said to a guy at a bar that Nelson likes his chances for a big contract since he's well rested from this wreck of a season. "Just saying." But just don't quote me. Please?!?

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Since91's picture

December 29, 2017 at 05:10 pm

Get a new source! LOL

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rdent's picture

December 30, 2017 at 05:33 am

I hate to tell you but your word on the street is wrong

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Packer_Fan's picture

December 29, 2017 at 04:51 pm

I say keep Jordy. Maybe redo salary lower to be cap friendly. The Pack is short of veteran depth. They just signed Adams which is good. Time to say goodbye to Janis and attempt to develop Clark.

And there are so many other positions that need an infusion of veteran talent and knowledge. Especially cornerback.

And it is time to let Capers go. Get a 3-4 guy that will make the defense simpler. The good defenses don't use complex schemes. They just execute them well. And get more help at rushing the passer.

This was so pathetic with the first Carolina TD when Matthews called the wheel route and then no one covered McCaffrey. Something wrong there.

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Since91's picture

December 29, 2017 at 05:07 pm

Adams is signed.....Jordy is going nowhere....and for all of us fans....not pro athletes....you do not cut a star when he is going to get paid a big chunk of his team very friendly contract!!!! Or you can forget ever signing a big name free agent again! Agents and free agents around the league are always watching! Cut Jordy are you that ignorant! Maybe he restructures because he wants to win one more time or maybe he does not.....for all of you cut everyone guys let’s cut Rodgers in 7 years when he is no longer Superman....once again my username seriously!
Wake up gentlemen!

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packergal's picture

December 29, 2017 at 06:19 pm

Well Pack just inked Adams to monster deal. Congratulations, Davante!

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egbertsouse's picture

December 29, 2017 at 06:40 pm

Yup, Ted panicked and overpaid Adams. Just like he did with Perry. Time for a new GM.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 29, 2017 at 06:40 pm

Yup, Ted panicked and overpaid Adams. Just like he did with Perry. Time for a new GM.

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Since91's picture

December 29, 2017 at 07:41 pm

He won’t even be a top 10 paid WR by free agency next year guaranteed!!!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 29, 2017 at 09:56 pm

Yes he will. Probably still top 4 after this March. Probably still top 8 at the end of March, 2019. Top 15 easy still in 2020.

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Since91's picture

December 29, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Ok....but you never know....your statement is my point though...the 14 million per year will be nothing as the league salaries continue to explode and the cap continues to climb
Look at Rodgers salary....it is nothing now!
Come on man be realistic you have to pay up for top talent!

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

December 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Who will get paid more than Adams in FA next year? The big names are Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins and maybe Martavus Bryant.

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Since91's picture

December 29, 2017 at 10:48 pm

You have to pay for top talent end of story
14 million for your number one WR not bad
I feared 65-75 million after the marginal talent often injured Jeffrey’s contract to be honest

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 30, 2017 at 08:27 am

Rodgers and Jordy Nelson were like peanut butter and jelly..

Hundley and Nelson were like vinegar and water

All only wanted to do was pass to Davante Adams and that was it Hundley is just too inconsistent

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 30, 2017 at 08:32 am

One of the big things as always are the injuries especially on the offensive line the Green Bay Packers had changed the front 12 times more than any other team in the NFL? How can you get into any kind of a rhythm or flow by constantly changing the offensive line do the injuries and how can the running backs find their Lanes when each person blocks a little differently.

The Minnesota Vikings have been using the same five offensive linemen since week 5

So we need to fire the trainers fire the trainers

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4thand10's picture

December 30, 2017 at 10:30 am

Montgomery was a pretty good WR before converted to RB. I would say the RB experience with him should be over. I think the Pack thought they had a LaVeon Bell in him....but not quite.
Like others have stated , I'm not sure Jordy can stretch the field anymore, but he does have huge value when Rodgers returns. I'm glad Adams was signed.
I'm my mind Something needs to be done with Cobb because he gets paid a lot and the Pack already have an abundance of slot guys. I do believe that 1 high draft pick should be spent on a large down the field WR as I'm not confident that Clark or Allison can ever be that guy. As long as AR is QB the one area I would not go cheap on is WR. But it's tough because something has to be done on the defensive side of the Ball.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Also not sure if we put Ty Montgomery as third running back or do we try and put him back as wide receiver and draft another running back?

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Oppy's picture

December 30, 2017 at 03:03 pm

HOw many RB's do you feel like we need?

There's this kid named Devante Mays on the roster. He's pretty good, even though he had a nightmare debut this year.

There's no reason to draft RB just because/if the Packers moved Ty Montgomery back to WR. We're kinda stocked up at RB at the moment.

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TheVOR's picture

December 30, 2017 at 07:06 pm

Aaron Jones is on the only real running back on the roster. Williams is "just a guy" Ty Montgomery is an oft injured dude who can't stay healthy long enough for anyone in the NFL to decide WT* he even is, Mays is a guy....

The only real running back on the roster is Aaron Jones, and his MCL's are troublesome. We need Elliot Wolf as GM, to get us a blue chipper TE, RB, and a pass rush! GOSH I want a different GM, SO FREEKIN BAD!!!

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Oppy's picture

December 30, 2017 at 09:33 pm

Jamaal Williams doesn't look like a real running back? You must be one of those stats guys.

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Chuck Farley's picture

December 30, 2017 at 03:11 pm

Until thee packers org decides its time to spend the bucks wisely and seek play maker talent on defense this is an 8-8 team with Rogers healthy. It is what it is. When the pack had to face the top talent in the playoffs the real team talent was exposed: poor pass rush, worse pass defense. I blame Ted t for all of it. This mess was his doing and it ain't getting any better soon.
His nemisis in minny has a huge problem, three qb`s who can all play at a high level, two top db`s who should have been pro bowlers and a team of second stringers who could be pro bowlers. There not going away soon.

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