Changes happens quickly in the NFL. Yesterday’s star is in today’s discard pile.
Just two years ago, Jordy Nelson led the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns. Prior to tearing his ACL in 2015, he was among the league’s premier playmakers, making magic with Aaron Rodgers as a precision route runner, dangerous deep threat and sideline acrobat. On Tuesday, the Packers released him.
Turning 33 this offseason, though, Nelson has lost the speed needed to consistently separate from cornerbacks. His yards-per-catch average has plummeted from 15.5 to 13.0 to 9.1 over his last three healthy seasons.
Can he turn in a bounce-back season with a new quarterback after spending a decade with Rodgers? As we examine the market, these are the teams we expect to be most interested in answering that question.
1. Oakland Raiders: When it comes to established veterans set free in their twilight years, a signing often comes down to connections. New Raiders wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett spent the past seven years as Nelson’s position coach and then coordinator in Green Bay. With Michael Crabtree’s Oakland future up in the air, Nelson could be an option opposite offensive focal point Amari Cooper.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: Speaking of connections, Alex Van Pelt recently signed on as Bengals quarterbacks coach after working alongside Bennett as a Packers offensive assistant for the past half-decade. Would Cincinnati entertain the idea of bringing in Nelson to push Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd and John Ross for snaps?
3. New England Patriots: Danny Amendola is absconding to Miami with a new contract and Julian Edelman is coming off ACL surgery. If Nelson wishes to follow the well-worn path of ring-chasers to Foxborough, perhaps there’s mutual interest in a sure-handed wideout.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: If Nelson does prioritize a Super Bowl contender, why not the reigning champions? The Eagles might be in the market for a versatile veteran at a bargain rate after dealing Torrey Smith to Carolina.
5. Baltimore Ravens: From Lee Evans to Steve Smith to Mike Wallace to Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore is the last pit stop on the wide-receiver train. The Ravens were reported to be in pursuit of Donte Moncrief, who signed with Jacksonville. Might Nelson be a fallback option?