ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the Packers were cutting Nelson after nine seasons. Schefter also added Nelson would like to continue playing. Jason Wilde of ESPN reported the Packers wanted Nelson back, but offered him a significantly reduced deal, not much better than the veteran minimum.
Nelson is coming off his least productive season on a per-game basis since 2010. He tallied 53 receptions for 482 yards and six touchdowns across 15 games with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers limited to seven appearances because of a broken collarbone.
The 32-year-old Kansas State product was one of the league's most reliable weapons over the previous handful of years, though.
He posted career-high totals in catches (98) and receiving yards (1,519) to go along with 13 touchdowns during a 2014 campaign in which he made the Pro Bowl. After missing 2015 with a torn ACL, he bounced back in 2016 with 97 grabs for 1,257 yards and 14 scores.
In August, Nelson told former Packers teammate A.J. Hawk on the HawkCast podcast he could see the end of his playing career on the horizon.
"I would say anywhere between two to four more years. I think four more—so this one and three more—would be my max," he said. "That would put me at 13 years. I'd be happy with that, obviously. At some point, I feel I got to get my family back to Kansas."
Nelson, who had one season left on his deal, became expendable with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on the roster and Graham reportedly joining the group. Adams inked a four-year, $58 million extension with the organization in late December.
His deal forced the Green Bay front office to seek ways to keep the team under the salary cap, though. It ultimately decided to release Nelson, which creates just over $10.2 million in added space for 2018, per Spotrac.
The move doesn't guarantee the wideout's time with the Packers is over—he could sign a team-friendly contract after evaluating his options on the open market. For now, though, Green Bay is preparing to move forward without one of the top receivers in franchise history.