Tag Archives: Jordy Nelson

Packers lose Jordy Nelson, but the season must go on

25 Aug
Jordy Nelson Injury

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending right knee injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Photo Credit: foxsports.com

An uncharacteristically cool day in August became a lot colder throughout Wisconsin when the Green Bay Packers officially announced they will be without star wide receiver Jordy Nelson for the entire 2015 season.

Nelson suffered a “significant right knee injury” during a non-contact play in the Packers’ preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

While it may feel like the season is over after such a devastating loss, in reality, the season is just getting started.

Hearts are understandably heavy among Packers fans in Wisconsin, but using Nelson’s injury as a rationale to reduce the number of preseason games would be unwise. Sure, it’s unfortunate that he suffered a season-ending injury during what quarterback Aaron Rodgers called a “meaningless game.” But it was the Packers’ first possession of just their second preseason game.

Nelson had every reason to be on the field. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy made a point of giving his starters more playing time during the preseason to combat slow starts that have plagued the team early in recent seasons.

Injuries can happen at any time.

Just ask the Carolina Panthers, who lost their own star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season after suffering a torn ACL during a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins.

The NFL schedule doesn’t slow down for anyone.

You can be certain no one in the Packers locker room is feeling sorry for themselves, especially Nelson. Quite frankly, there’s no time to grieve. In less than three weeks, the Packers open the regular season against the Chicago Bears. Nelson won’t be in the lineup, and nothing can be done to change that.

Instead, the Packers must focus on the players who will be available to them, and the options are plenty. If there’s any position on the Packers’ roster where they could afford a significant injury, it’s wide receiver.

There’s a silver lining in every situation. Because Nelson got hurt now, rather than just before or during the early stages of the regular season, other receivers will be given ample opportunities for reps and can better prepare for what lies ahead.

Truth be told, you can never replace a Jordy Nelson – on or off the field. It will be a collective effort. In 2014, he put together one of the best seasons in franchise history, racking up 98 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns.

But even in Nelson’s absence, the Packers have a number of offensive weapons. They had their sights set on breaking records this season, and their offense still has the firepower to rank among the NFL’s best in 2015.

With Nelson sidelined, opposing teams are more likely to stack the box to defend against the run, meaning Eddie Lacy will have to work even harder to shoulder the load and allow the Packers’ still-talented group of receivers to find holes in the defense.

There’s a reason Packers General Manager Ted Thompson resigned Randall Cobb to a team-friendly contract during the offseason. There’s also a reason Thompson drafted Stanford product Ty Montgomery in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft.

Those reasons have come to fruition faster than anyone could have expected.

The Packers also have a few second-year players who are primed for bigger roles this season, including wide receivers Davante Adams and Jeff Janis, and tight end Richard Rodgers.

Adams showed flashes last season and is the most likely candidate to receive Nelson’s share of targets in the passing game. He has received high praise from McCarthy, who referred to him as the MVP of the offseason. Adams and Montgomery have drawn rave reviews during training camp as well.

Considered by many to be “Jordy Lite,” Janis possesses the best size (6’3″, 220) and speed (4.42 40) of any receiver on the roster. A seventh-round pick out of Division II Saginaw Valley State a year ago, Janis is raw and needs to work on his route running ability. If he puts it all together, he could fill the deep-threat role as Nelson did, which would open up the passing game.

Richard Rodgers has emerged as the Packers’ No. 1 tight end on the depth chart. While he doesn’t scare opposing defenses with his speed, he has great hands and could be a threat down the middle of the field if teams decide to key on Lacy and the versatile receivers on the outside.

Let’s not forget about the “Aaron Rodgers factor” either. As the best quarterback in the league, Rodgers undoubtedly makes everyone around him better and has more than enough talent to work with.

In limited time, there’s a sense of urgency for the Packers’ young receivers to grow up quickly and establish a rapport with their MVP quarterback. The Packers’ mantra of “Next Man Up” will continue to be their rallying cry.

This team is far too talented and too well coached to let Nelson’s injury ruin the season before it even begins.

As long as Rodgers is healthy and under center, the Packers’ Super Bowl aspirations in 2015 remain very real.

Win it for Jordy.

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Winning means more to Randall Cobb

8 Mar
Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb scored a career-high 12 touchdowns for the Packers last season.
Photo Credit: fox11online.com

Welcome to Green Bay Packers immortality, Randall Cobb.

It’s far too early to label Cobb as a future Packers Hall of Famer, but he took a big step in the right direction on Saturday, when he accepted a 4-year contract worth $40 million to remain in Green Bay. The deal includes $17 million guaranteed.

A whirlwind of media activity reported Cobb received at least six or seven offers from other teams during the early stages of the NFL’s legal tampering period prior to the start of free agency on Tuesday.

Cobb’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, was seeking an annual salary of $12 million, and the Oakland Raiders announced they were willing to pay $11 million for Cobb’s services. An inevitable bidding war between the Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, among others, would have increased the value on Cobb’s price tag if he reached free agency.

But Cobb chose Green Bay.

It doesn’t matter who you cheer for – unless you’re a disheartened Jaguars or  Raiders fan reeling in the sorrows of continued mediocrity – it’s easy to respect a professional athlete who leaves a sizable chunk of change on the table to stay put.

For that reason, Cobb has instantly earned the good graces of the Packers faithful. If he wasn’t a fan-favorite before, he certainly is now.

Sit back and watch those jersey sales skyrocket, Randall. I’m already on board.

From day one, it was evident Cobb knew what it takes to be a Packer. He never seemed like a money-grabber who would attempt to gouge the front office for every penny when his rookie contract expired.

Cobb’s departure in free agency would have been an unfathomable, albeit totally realistic, possibility. General Manager Ted Thompson doesn’t allow his coveted assets to sign elsewhere unless he has a justified reason for it.

After rejecting the Packers’ initial offer – a 5-year deal worth $8-9 million annually – it appeared as if Cobb’s asking price was out of the Packers’ range.

Cobb was unfairly compared to Greg Jennings and James Jones throughout the process, as fans feared he would leave for more money.

When Jennings and Jones left Green Bay, both players were pushing 30 and already had a Super Bowl title to their name. At that point in their respective careers, I don’t blame them for cashing in one last time. Don’t forget, the Packers never offered Jones a deal when he departed for the Oakland Raiders a season ago.

In any profession, the goal is to maximize earning potential. I doubt any of us would walk into our employer’s office on a Monday morning and ask for a pay cut. Why should athletes be held to a different standard and settle for less money? Especially when that athlete is a thriving 24-year-old superstar entering the prime of his career?

Cobb didn’t have to settle. But he gets it. He wants to win.

The richest players in the NFL are those with a Super Bowl ring.

Cobb also realizes that the value of catching passes from reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers outweighs the monetary value he could have found elsewhere. Would it really be worth $2 million more each year to play alongside Derek Carr or Blake Bortles?

The idea of teaming up with a young, unpolished quarterback must have held substance in Cobb’s decision to return to Green Bay. One doesn’t simply file for divorce from the best quarterback in the game.

Other receivers dream of Cobb’s situation.

Cobb has a unique and versatile skill set, but his success is due largely in part to his triggerman. Last season, Cobb posted career-highs of 91 catches, 1,287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

Thanks, Mr. Rodgers.

Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson

In 2014, Packers receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb became the first duo in team history to each score more than 10 touchdowns in a single season.
Photo Credit: driverlayer.com

Let’s not forget about Cobb’s running mate, Jordy Nelson, either. Polar opposites in terms of playing style, yet equally talented, Nelson and Cobb are the most formidable wide receiver duo in the NFL. In 2014, they became the first tandem in Packers history to each catch more than 10 touchdown passes in a single season.

They have a golden opportunity to continue something special in Green Bay.

Nelson and Cobb are under contract through 2018. Rodgers is signed through 2019. The Packers will be able to keep the band together for the foreseeable future, something that could spell trouble for the rest of the league.

By staying in Green Bay, Cobb has placed himself in a prime position to receive another massive contract when he’s 28. That will take care of itself. For now, he has his sights set on the greater goal: winning his first Super Bowl.

That could happen sooner than later.

Jordy Nelson is different from past Packers receivers

28 Jul
Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson signed a 4-year, $39 million contract extension on the first day of Training Camp.  Credit: standingosports.com

Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson signed a 4-year, $39 million contract extension on the first day of Training Camp.
Credit: standingosports.com

Jordy Nelson is one of the most underrated players in the NFL, but not one of the most undervalued – at least not anymore. On the first day of Training Camp, the Packers’ star receiver signed a 4-year, $39 million contract extension. The deal also includes an $11.5 million signing bonus and $14.2 million in guaranteed money.

In 2013, Nelson had the best season of his career, posting 85 receptions for 1,314 yards (both career highs) and eight touchdowns.  While Nelson’s stats are impressive, perhaps what’s more impressive is that he managed to put together an elite season without the services of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who missed seven games after breaking his collarbone.

During that span, Nelson relied on Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn to throw him the football.

Those are hardly Rodgers-caliber quarterbacks.

Nelson’s numbers understandably dropped off without Rodgers under center, but he never completely slowed down. Despite the Packers’ quarterback carousel, Nelson stepped up in Rodgers’ absence and played a crucial role in the team’s push to make the playoffs.

He should have made the Pro Bowl, but considering how much of joke that game is anyway, I’ll refrain from further comment.

Just days before inking his new extension, Nelson announced he was seeking a contract that would pay him at least $10 million per year. That was dangerous territory for a 29-year-old receiver playing for a team with a history of letting receivers walk when they’re pushing 30.

Former Packers receivers Greg Jennings and James Jones both were 29 when they tested the free-agent market. Jennings – whose ego was too big to return to Green Bay – eventually signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. Jones signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason. He was nothing more than a No. 3 receiver in the Packers’ offense, although he led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions in 2012.

But Nelson is different.

Rodgers said Nelson has the best instincts of any receiver he’s played with during his career. That’s high praise from one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks.

The Packers have a great deal of youth at the position, so they simply couldn’t afford to let Nelson reach free agency. He is the most reliable asset in the Packers’ receiving corps and has a connection with Rodgers that ranks among the NFL’s best.

With so much conversation throughout the league regarding the best quarterback-receiver duo, most would list Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas, Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, Andy Dalton to A.J. Green, or Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall.

Rodgers and Nelson are often excluded from the conversation and rarely garner much media attention, but they have quietly put together an impressive résumé that certainly merits consideration.

Since 2011, Rodgers has thrown to Nelson 224 times, completing 158 passes (70.5 completion percentage) for 2,683 yards, 26 touchdowns and a mere three interceptions. Those stats result in a ridiculous 143.9 passer rating. To put it into perspective, the next-closest passer rating is 123.0, by Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas.

Now I ask you, who is the best quarterback-receiver tandem in the league? The numbers speak for themselves.

Packers fans can rejoice, knowing the 12-to-87 combination will be around for several more years, giving the team a consistent threat in the passing game. Opposing defenses can continue to underestimate Nelson. He’ll continue to make plays.

Next on the Packers’ agenda is Randall Cobb, whose rookie contract will expire at the end of the 2014-2015 season. Cobb doesn’t believe he’s earned an extension yet, but you can be certain he’ll make the most of his opportunities this season to prove his value, the same way Nelson has throughout his career. The end result might be a similar contract extension.

One down, one to go.

Colin Kaepernick’s big-money deal is good news for Packers

5 Jun
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick celebrates with his signature bicep kiss.
Credit: csmonitor.com

Most Packers fans recognize Colin Kaepernick as the guy who ended the Packers’ Super Bowl hopes the past two seasons. Kaepernick tore up a feeble Packers defense, running his way to berths in the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship game, and ultimately a lucrative contract extension. Now, he’s the sixth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, and he’s just getting started.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers signed their impressive young quarterback to a six-year contract extension worth up to $126 million, with $61 million guaranteed. That is the most guaranteed money for a player in NFL history. The deal features a signing bonus of $12 million, and averages around $19 million per year but could reach $21 million with playoff and Super Bowl incentives.

While the $61 million in guarantees are on a year-to-year basis, the 49ers must be careful when spending money moving forward. Their situation is similar to the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, who signed cornerback Richard Sherman to a four-year extension worth $57.4 million, including $40 million guaranteed. This was shortly after they signed safety Earl Thomas to a four-year extension of his own, worth $40 million with $27.75 million guaranteed.

Two of the Packers’ primary contenders aren’t being shy about spending their money, and, until this point, the 49ers and Seahawks have benefited from several of their star players participating under their rookie contracts, resulting in continued success. But what happens when these players realize their value and their rookie contracts expire?

They want to get paid.

After next season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also will ink a new contract, which is expected to exceed $20 million per year, similar to Kaepernick’s extension.

There may not be any initial consequences following the 49ers’ and Seahawks’ big-money transactions, but these deals may eventually force the two teams to part ways with core players. This is necessary to clear enough cap space to accommodate the contracts of their top-tier talent in the coming years.

Let’s not forget, the NFL is a business.

Where do the Packers fit into all this contract talk? The Packers do indeed have an advantage over the 49ers and Seahawks, considering their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a majority of integral players on the roster are signed for the long term. Those who aren’t will most likely be retained.

Packers General Manager Ted Thompson stands by his players with his draft-and-develop philosophy, which is a primary reason why the Packers are a competitive franchise year-in and year-out.

The Packers’ two premier receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, are set to become free agents at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. They are both due for a healthy paycheck. With an estimated $14 million in cap space, signing the star wide outs shouldn’t be a problem for Thompson and the Packers front office. The organization already has acknowledged Nelson’s contract is a “priority.”

With a core of veterans under contract, complemented by a deep group of cheap, young talent and a substantial amount of cap space, I expect the Packers to be a contender yet again in 2014 and beyond.

We’ll find out in Week One, when the Packers face off against the Seahawks to open the 2014 NFL season.

Jimmy Graham to Packers?

4 Mar
Jimmy Graham

The New Orleans Saints used their franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham on Monday. The tight end has drawn interest from the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
Credit: http://www.zimbio.com

As the NFL Franchise Tag deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET Monday, only four of the NFL’s 32 teams elected to use their franchise tag. One of those teams was the New Orleans Saints, who tagged tight end Jimmy Graham.

The Saints likely intended to use their franchise tag on Graham to buy themselves more time to work out a long-term deal, but they might have different intentions, possibly involving other NFL teams.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggested the Green Bay Packers could be a potential team interested in Graham. The Packers could sign Graham to an offer sheet, giving up two first-round picks to the Saints if they are unable to match the Packers’ offer.

Signing Graham looks sexy on paper. He certainly would fill a void on the Packers’ roster, but don’t be mistaken. While tight ends Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless are set to become unrestricted free agents, making a play for Graham would go against the draft-and-develop philosophy of Packers General Manager Ted Thompson.

During his tenure with the Packers, Thompson has proven to be reluctant when acquiring top-tier players via trades or free agency.

In addition, this year’s draft class has a great deal of depth at the tight end position.

In a win-now league, the Packers must still be mindful of their future. Sacrificing two first-round picks for one player – even if it happens to be one as talented as Graham – would be a risky move. It would jeopardize the Packers’ ability to build through the draft and improve their porous defense, which ranked 24th in the NFL last season.

An integral part in improving, or at least maintaining, their defensive unit would be re-signing cornerback Sam Shields, who has already announced he will test the market once free agency hits Tuesday, March 11.

The Packers have the sixth-most salary cap space in the NFL this offseason, $34.7 million to be exact. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has reported the Packers will be big spenders in free agency. Look for them to spend that money on signing household names, such as Shields and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Whatever money is left over should be spent on the defensive side of the ball.

With the Packers’ ample cap space, paired with a talented free agent pool, it’s not unthinkable for Thompson to slightly alter his approach this offseason. The last time he did was in 2006, when the Packers acquired cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

The Buffalo Bills did not tag safety Jairus Byrd, and he will become a free agent next Tuesday. He would immediately fill a need for the Packers.

While it’s only a rumor and relatively far-fetched for now, the idea of seeing Graham in a Packers uniform is intriguing. Lining him up alongside Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb would make the Packers a juggernaut on offense.

That being said, the Packers’ defense is a priority, and the risk associated with signing Graham would arguably outweigh the reward. When all is said and done, I doubt Graham will be on the Packers’ roster next season, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Would you like to see the Packers make a move on Graham?

Jennings signs with rival Vikings

16 Mar
Wide Receiver Greg Jennings

Former Packers receiver Greg Jennings signed with the Vikings Friday. Jennings spent seven seasons with the Packers. Credit: common.wikimedia.org

Packers fans can stop holding their breath. The Greg Jennings sweepstakes is over, although it didn’t have the result Packers nation was hoping for. The former Packers wide receiver has signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Jennings hit the free agent market as one of the most coveted receivers available. He was hoping to sign a lucrative deal worth upwards of $10 million a year, but, in reality, the market was softer than Jennings had anticipated. The first day of free agency saw former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace sign a 5-year, $60 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. No surprise there.

Jennings was looking for Wallace-type money, but no offers hit the table. He was forced to lower his asking price, which allowed the Packers and Vikings to enter the conversation.

How fitting? Even when they’re not playing against each other on the football field, the Packers and Vikings find a way to keep their rivalry going.

This isn’t the first time the Vikings have taken advantage of the opportunity to get their hands on some of the Packers’ sloppy seconds, so to speak. Ryan Longwell, Robert Ferguson, Darren Sharper and some guy named Brett Favre found their way to Minnesota after their respective careers in Green Bay. Will the Favre haters please stand up? Now sit down. It was four years ago; time to get over it.

The Vikings had no depth at receiver before signing Jennings, especially after shipping Percy Harvin, their playmaker in the passing game, to the Seattle Seahawks. The move to trade Harvin left Jerome Simpson as the team’s potential No. 1 receiver. Yeah, he’s the guy who flipped over a defender on his way into the end zone as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals just over a year ago. What has Simpson done since then? Good question. The Vikings were desperate for a possession receiver. Hello, Jennings.

The Vikings met with Jennings for two days, starting on Thursday. He went out to dinner with Head Coach Leslie Frazier, General Manager Rick Spielman, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave, Assistant General Manager George Paton and defensive end Jared Allen. No deal appeared imminent. They most likely spent their time watching Jennings “Put the team on his back” on YouTube (picturing him in a Vikings jersey, of course) while sharing a few laughs and a beer. All jokes aside, there had to be something brewing for Jennings to spend the night in Minnesota.

Friday, Jennings reached an agreement with the Vikings on a five-year deal worth $47.5 million, with $18.5 million guaranteed. Jennings was Minnesota’s best remaining option at receiver. They couldn’t let him get away, and they didn’t. That being said, spending a sizeable chunk of change on a 29-year-old receiver with an injury history isn’t necessarily what I would consider a bargain, especially after a season in which Jennings only played eight games.

Jennings will get plenty of touches in Minnesota. He’ll score some touchdowns, too. But when his name shows up on the Vikings’ injury report for the first time, forgive me if I greet Vikings fans with “I told you so.”

With many explosive weapons on the Packers’ offense – Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, to name a few – Green Bay was not prepared to engage in a bidding war with Minnesota. It wasn’t realistic to expect the Packers to spend a lot of money on a guy, who, in all honesty, would be the Packers’ third- or fourth-best receiver on the roster.

Jennings was the guy in Green Bay for many years. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s healthy, but there comes a time when a player and organization have to part ways for the best of both parties. That time was now for Jennings. Don’t be surprised if the Packers are better off without him.

Jennings said the quarterback would be a major factor in determining which team he would sign with. That tells us one thing: money talks. Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Christian Ponder, no questions asked. The Vikings signed former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel to a one-year, $4 million deal.

That makes the Vikings better at quarterback, right? Not at all. It’s a waste of money.

The only thing it does for Minnesota is encourages a quarterback competition, during which Jennings will be forced to work on his chemistry with two quarterbacks, instead of arguably the best one in the NFL.

Jennings is in a better financial position now, but I don’t see him being in the position to win a Super Bowl during his next five years in Minnesota. There’s simply too much firepower in the NFC for the Vikings to compete.

After all, Jennings already has a ring. Why not strive for a bigger pay day?

The Vikings can keep winning the Packers’ free agents. The Packers will stick to what they do best: winning football games.

It’ll be difficult to hate a role model like Jennings, which is why I won’t. Fourteen games of the season I won’t be disappointed if Jennings succeeds. But when he plays against the Packers twice each year, I’ll be wearing my Donald Driver jersey, knowing that’s what Jennings could have been.

How do you think Jennings will do in Minnesota?