In an expected but still jarring move, the Green Bay Packers have released Jordy Nelson, one of the most productive wide receivers in franchise history.
"We cannot thank Jordy enough for all that he has given the Green Bay Packers and our community for the past 10 years," new GM Brian Gutekunst said in a statement. "He has been an exemplary professional and teammate and greatly contributed to our success. Jordy will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. We wish Jordy, his wife Emily, and the rest of their family all the best."
Green Bay will save $10.2 million against its cap by cutting Nelson, who turns 33 in May and finishes his 10-year career with the Packers ranked second on their all-time receiving TD list (69), third in catches (550) and fifth in yards (7,848).
But Nelson's play dropped precipitously last season, two years removed from missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL, when he posted a career-low 9.1-yard catch average in addition to 53 catches, six touchdowns and 482 yards — his lowest totals since 2010.
Drafted in the second round in 2008 out of Kansas State by Ted Thompson, Nelson blossomed into one of the game's best wideouts — a sideline sorcerer, deep threat and dominant touchdown scorer bunched into one. The 2014 Pro Bowler and 2016 NFL leader in receiving touchdowns developed an uncanny rapport with Aaron Rodgers, who never shied away from throwing Nelson open on the boundaries using their patented back-shoulder telepathy.
Nelson is the only receiver in Packers history to produce three 13-plus TD campaigns and joins Sterling Sharpe as the only Packer with three 85-plus catch seasons.
But Nelson — who caught nine balls for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Packers' Super Bowl XLV triumph — just couldn't revive his downfield playmaking penchant last season with Brett Hundley at the controls. And after the Packers rewarded Davante Adams, who continued to produce despite the QB instability, with a monster extension in December, the writing was on the wall for Nelson to be released.
Then, with the Packers kicking off the offseason with a sea change that includes two new coordinators and a new general manager taking a more active free-agent approach — including the reported signing of TE Jimmy Graham — the likelihood of Nelson's departure had only increased.
It'll be interesting to hear Rodgers' reaction to losing one of his closest allies and most trusted weapon on the heels of good pal and QB coach Alex Van Pelt being shown the door. The Packers landed a great consolation prize in Graham, but it's difficult to replace Nelson's massive contributions and respected role as a locker room leader.