Updates from Thursday, July 31
Nelson’s $11.5 million signing bonus is the only guaranteed money, but it’s the best kind of guaranteed money. It’s cash up front. No other portion of the deal is guaranteed, fully or partially. With a cap charge of $2.3 million spread over each of the five years Nelson is under contract, the potential acceleration probably gives him at least two years of security.
The base salaries are $2 million, $1.3 million, $5.5 million, $8.25 million, and $9.25 million from 2014 through 2018. The cap numbers in those years are $5.925 million, $4.6 million, $8.8 million, $11.55 million, and $12.55 million.
The Green Bay Packers have locked up one of their top offensive weapons by agreeing to a contract extension with Jordy Nelson. The deal will pay the veteran wide receiver $39 million over four years.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passed along the details of the new agreement:
Packers and Jordy Nelson have struck a deal. It’s a 4-year extension worth $39M, source says. Huge. $14.2M guaranteed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 26, 2014
#Packers WR Jordy Nelson averages $9.76M on his new deal, which is a large upgrade. He gets an $11.5M signing bonus. Well-deserved— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 26, 2014
Nelson, 29, was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. He didn't immediately step into a featured role, though, failing to haul in more than 50 catches or two touchdowns in any of his first three seasons in Green Bay.
Is Nelson currently a top-10 NFL wide receiver?
Aaron Rodgers had plenty of options in the passing game and spread the ball around. In turn, Nelson's true value to the offense remained under the radar.
Things changed in 2011. The Kansas State product started seeing more targets as he moved up the depth chart due to strong play and some departures. He responded by catching 68 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Since that point, he's been among the top receivers in the league. Over the past three seasons, he's made 202 catches for 3,322 yards and 30 touchdowns in 44 games.
One of the main reasons for that success is his ability to get open on the outside. As Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders points out, he's one of the best wideouts in the league in terms of using the sideline to create space and make key grabs:
Also, he has some of the NFL's best hands. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com ranks him sixth among pass-catchers in that area behind only some elite targets:
Nelson is rarely mentioned as one of the top receivers in the NFL, but astute observers definitely appreciate the Packers' primary option in the passing game. The veteran receiver has quietly terrorized the NFC North with his skills as an explosive playmaker while also displaying the toughness and physicality to excel between the hashes.
Locking him up was key for the Packers. They don't have nearly as much receiving depth as they did when he arrived, when the team featured both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. He would have also generated plenty of interest on the open market should he have ever become a free agent.
The extension should also make Nelson happy. In June, he talked with Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about getting the process over with quickly to avoid distractions:
Obviously, you want to get it done as soon as possible. But there are a lot of other people that are involved in that. It's a process and we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.
I guess I'm more focused on hoping it gets done before we get to that.
Now, Nelson can focus on the season, and the front office can turn its attention to other tasks, including a possible new deal for fellow receiver Randall Cobb.
Since the Packers offense still relies on spreading the ball around, Nelson probably won't lead the league in catches or yards. That said, his value is still sky high. That will most likely continue to be shown in his first-down and touchdown numbers.
As for Green Bay as a whole, the team is a top contender in the NFC thanks to Rodgers, Nelson and Co. Improvement on the defensive side of the ball, however, is a must to overcome the likes of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.