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Thompson Saved a Ton by Extending Nelson Early

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Thompson Saved a Ton by Extending Nelson Early

The following is a guest post from Ben Duronio, formerly of ESPN Stats and Info, and currently operator of the Atlanta Braves blog, the Capitol Avenue Club, part of ESPN's SweetSpot Network...

On the Sunday of the fourth week of the season, Jordy Nelson signed a four-year contract, totaling almost exactly $14m with $5m guaranteed, including a $3.5m signing bonus. The details of the contract in terms of yearly pay are not the important part of this article, though it is relatively amusing to note that Nelson will earn just $2.5m between salary and roster bonuses next season. What is important is that due to the contract Ted Thompson was able to get Nelson to sign, and the production Nelson has since put forth, this contract has become an extremely team-friendly deal.

Since week four, Nelson has totaled 25 catches, 464 yards, and 6 touchdowns. That comes out to a yards per reception average of 18.56, which is not far off from his 18.90 season mark. He has accumulated all three 100-yard performances of his season since signing the contract and has added his first ever two-touchdown game, and added another the following week. Nelson has tallied as many touchdowns since signing his new contract as he had in his entire career before the start of the season. He has been playing at an elite level and seems to be entering the peak of his career.

If Nelson had opted for free agency, he likely would have received a contract that would have blown his new deal out of the water.

Santonio Holmes signed the biggest wide receiver deal in 2010, earning $50m over five years, with $24m guaranteed. Nelson’s entire contract is worth just under 60% of what Holmes is guaranteed, which is simply astounding.

Holmes was coming off of a season in which he averaged 62.2 yards per game and six touchdowns over 12 games (he was suspended for the first four, as you may recall).

Brad Smith received a four year, $15m contract from the Bills. This deal is nearly identical in terms of years and money as Nelson’s, but the production will be extremely skewed in Nelson’s favor over the course of the contract.

Greg Jennings signed a four-year contract in 2009 worth nearly $27m with $16.25 guaranteed. Jennings has been worth every penny, as that contract was also one of the better deals for a top flight wide receiver. Nelson could reasonably put up a similar level of performance over the first three years of his contract, and for about two thirds of the price.

All three of the aforementioned signings help paint a picture of what Nelson could have earned on the open market. A team looking for a big wide receiver that has the ability to both stretch the field and be solid in possession formats would likely be willing to pay big bucks for Nelson had he not been extended. A contract totaling five years and roughly $30 million certainly does not seem unreasonable given the type of season Nelson has had.

Some teams may have seen Nelson as a product of Aaron Rodgers, but after watching the tape and evaluating Nelson further they would have noticed the quality of Nelson’s play and paid him accordingly.

It may be too early to call Nelson an annual Pro-Bowl caliber wide receiver, but he has performed like one this season. With him becoming more involved in the offense and Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley being targeted fewer times per game than they have been accustomed to, Nelson’s breakout campaign may only be the start of one of the better contracts Ted Thompson has ever dished out.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

brett favre's picture

What about James Jones getting the money Jenkins should have gotten?

PackerBacker's picture

The guy wants to be a winner more than a multimillionaire. I can't blame him. Stick with the place that's given you your success.

Tommyboy's picture

Thompson got another steal in the Tramon Williams signing last year.

Mojo's picture

And the Packers will probably bring Gurley up from the PS next year(if he's still around). Sorry DD.

aussiepacker's picture

Was thinking this just the other day. But good on him he is definately packer people and this contract is another reason why Ted Thompson is one of the best general managers in the NFL.

Mel's picture

This deal made perfect sense. I was worried that when we resigned JJ that we wouldn't sign Nelson. I always thought that Nelson was the better WR. I think we have Ryan Braunn in Nelson. Paid him more then he can spend. Small town guy out of the spot light as a #1 WR and a guy you can count on play after play!! I think Nelson will be a packer for life with Packer friendly deals the whole time to keep him were he loves to be!!!

Cole's picture

Jordy's agent must be kicking himself.

packeraaron's picture

I really doubt it. This was mostly Jordy's call.

redlights's picture

This really has been a pleasant surprise; from the draft (who!!!?); to making plays (not much as a kick returner, though); to the Super Bowl and now this year!!

I hope that he (or Tramon or ?) don't turn a Mike McKenzie and get sad when they realize they're underpaid. I know Sherman isn't popular in these parts, but McKenzie was his ultimate undoing (and Joe Johnson).

That being said, I think (in my dreams) that Russ Ball starts negotiations by handing out a sheet listing a)team salary cap; b)53 slots to be covered by said cap; and c)the cap number that the team has allocated to that particular player, along with comparable salaries of recent and similar contract extensions. He then listens to the players desires for upfront money or contract length or locker position or whatever; then knows if an agreement can be worked out. With Jordy, they threw out some WR3 contracts for comparison, the allure of receiving from ARodg and dangled the prospects of starting next year and getting more SB rings. Jordy snapped it up.

Everybody gets what they wanted. Packer people.

NoWayJose's picture

Everything I've ever read/observed about Jordy Nelson says that we don't need to worry about that.

Very humble, grounded kid. I think he'll be happy to a multi-millionaire playing the game he loves.

Paul DelVechio's picture

Very true. He made a comment recently to the effect of "I don't know why anybody would want to play anywhere else." Made me like him that much more.

Jer's picture

It wasn't that long ago that most people (myself included) considered it a minor mistake by Thompson to choose Jordy over DeSean Jackson in the 2008 draft. Now I'd take Jordy every day and twice on Sunday.

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