Jordy Nelson wants $10 million per season.
The question isn’t if Nelson is worth that much dough. The question is if Nelson is worth more than Greg Jennings or James Lofton.
We all know how squeamish general manager Ted Thompson gets about signing guys that are within a whisper of age 30. Jennings was 29 and coming off a sports hernia injury in 2012 that only allowed him to start five games.
Even though Jennings was the Packers’ No. 1 option from 2008-2011, Thompson made the right call in letting him go.
James Lofton is a little bit more interesting. He led the Packers in receiving from 1978-1986 and went to seven Pro Bowls while in Green Bay. When he left the Packers, Lofton was the team’s all-time leading receiver, a record that’s now owned by Donald Driver.
But the Packers surprisingly moved on. Lofton’s last season in Green Bay was at age 30 and it turned out to be a good decision, as Lofton never caught more than 60 balls again and only notched one more 1,000-yard season.
Which brings us to Nelson, who might be one of the most undervalued receivers in the league. Last year he proved his worth by producing when all-everything quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out for seven games and he had to adjust to four different starting quarterbacks. Nelson’s running mate, Randall Cobb, was injured as well. So with all that, Nelson still caught a career-high 85 balls for a career-high 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns.
Nelson just turned 29 in May and despite not getting any Pro Bowl love, he’s worth every penny of the $10 million that he is asking. Barring an unforeseen injury, I don’t see Nelson’s production falling off. That’s because he wasn’t consistently starting at wideout until his third year in the league.
Conversely, Jennings and Lofton started the majority of games right away.
Thompson may be pacing back-and-forth with this decision, but the right call is to give Nelson the money. Cobb is a dynamic athlete, but with his stop-on-a-dime mentality, he is more susceptible to a knee or ankle injury.
According to overthecap.com, the Packers have a 2015 projected cap hit of over $128 million. The NFL salary cap for 2014 is $133, which is up $10 million from 2013. So, judging how strong the salary cap spikes each year, the Packers will have the money to sign Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Nelson may not be known nationally like Jennings or Lofton were, but he is just as effective. He is a strong 6-foot-3 and has quick enough separation to get open the majority of the time. He also has a knack for making the sideline tight rope catch look too easy.
And since the tight end position is a huge question mark entering the season, the receivers will be called upon in a big way. Nelson and Cobb are the only receivers on the roster that have started at least 10 games, with Nelson being the leader with 41 games.
Another interesting twist into Nelson’s worth is Eddie Lacy. A lot of you may be wondering how Lacy could factor into Nelson. But with a talented running back, Nelson will continue to see favorable matchups — meaning very little double teams for fear of Lacy plowing through to the defensive second level.
His age may not say it, but this is the perfect time for a payday for Nelson. Unlike Jennings and Lofton, show Nelson the money.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn