New Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst is receiving an education at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando this week, the first time he has attended this event. This comes on the heels of the education he received when releasing a beloved player for salary cap reasons, Jordy Nelson.
“I think Brian handled that well,” said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. “Whenever you move on from a player like a Jordy, you are going to face that. That’s just reality.”
For Nelson, it was a very tough reality. He explained during a radio interview on Monday on ESPN 540’s Wilde and Tausch program.
"I think the hurt part was, to be honest, was the unwillingness to try to make it work,” Nelson said. “But then again, it's a business, and they have to do what they think is best. I'm definitely not the only one that's been cut or released when you don't think it's going to happen, and it's not what you want to hear when you go into a meeting with them. But we've moved on."
After the decision was made, Murphy said he met individually with Nelson. He did the same with safety Morgan Burnett, who signed with the Steelers as a free agent last week. “I told Jordy and Morgan, you’ll be remembered as Packers and we want them to come back and feel good about their experience here. And I think how you part ways, I’ve been around the league a long time and it usually doesn’t end in a pretty fashion. I know the way my career ended, I was bitter for a long time so I’ve tried now to work in a way so that the players at least have an understanding of why decisions were made.” Murphy played eight seasons for the Washington Redskins (1977-1984).
But for Nelson’s new team, there was a clear understanding that the soon to be 33-year-old can still play. The Oakland Raiders quickly scooped up Nelson before the Saints had a chance to visit with him. Nelson reportedly signed a two-year deal with $13 million guaranteed.
“I saw Jordy play last year. I saw his practice,” Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden said. “I got a lot of confidence not only in him on the field but what he’s bringing to our team in the organization, in the meeting rooms, on the practice field. We are really happy to have him.”
Gruden believes there is plenty left in Nelson’s tank after speculation that he had lost the proverbial step last year in Green Bay, even when Aaron Rodgers was playing quarterback. “You can put him on the backside of trips and isolate him,” said Gruden. “He can win on one-one-one coverage. He can un-cover in scramble drills as well as any guy I’ve seen. He’s unselfish, team guy that epitomizes what we are looking for at the wide receiver position and hopefully our young receivers, our football team notices him and respects the job that he does.”
The Packers certainly did, even though they made the decision to move on from Nelson.