For Jordy Nelson, leaving Packers 'a little shock to the system'
Wearing a gray sweatshirt and black cap with an unfamiliar logo, wide receiver Jordy Nelson signed a two-year, $15 million contract Thursday to continue his career with the Oakland Raiders. It looked as strange as it sounds.
In joining the Raiders, Nelson is reuniting with wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett and general manager Reggie McKenzie, both of whom overlapped with Nelson during their years with the Green Bay Packers. Everything else will be a new experience for Nelson and his family.
Nelson participated in a conference call with local media shortly after signing. The following is a summary of that interview, courtesy of The Mercury News and Bay Area News Group:
Q: Can you walk us through getting the news from Green Bay to signing with the Raiders today?
A: "Obviously, we got the news from Green Bay on Tuesday. Obviously, that was a little shock to the system and not what you want to hear after you’ve been somewhere for 10 years, but we know it’s part of the business. Once that happened and the news broke, people started reaching out. Obviously, I know Edgar Bennett who coaches here now from my years in Green Bay. He reached out right away. Him and Coach [Jon] Gruden were all over trying to get me out here as soon as possible. We were out here on a 6:30 a.m. flight the next day. Got out here. Got to the facility. Met with the coaches. Got to the physical part and checked it out. Got to drive around and check out the area because I haven’t spent much time in the Bay Area. Just to get a feel for it and see if this was a place for me and my family to move to or not. Then obviously after that some things set up and we were able to get it done before I got to go anywhere else."
Q: Did Derek Carr meet you at the airport?
A: "He was in the car when I got off the plane at the airport. Which was great. He told me they gave him my number earlier, but he was like, “I wasn’t going to text you and add to the flood of text messages coming in.” He was like, 'If you come into town, I’ll meet up with you.' So he did. We spent pretty much the whole day together in the building here. He was the one who drove me around some of the area. I was actually about to meet his wife and two boys. Get a feel for the area and obviously a feel for him. I knew a lot about him from James Jones who played here and Davante Adams who he played with at Fresno State. I knew a lot about him before I even came out here. It was great to get to know him a little bit more. I think it’s a great fit to be with him for the next couple of years."
Q: What do you expect from Jon Gruden as a coach? Are you excited to be a part of his offense?
A: "Yeah, absolutely excited to be a part of the offense. I think he’s a guy who has a creative mind. I think he’s going to stay true to who he is, but also is willing to learn and adjust to what he has and play to the skill level that each of his players have. I think everyone knows the intensity that he’s going to bring, he’ll bring it day in and day out. That energy, I think, will feed down to the other coaches and into the players and will also allow us to match that on practice and obviously on game days. I look forward to him. I obviously saw him on TV and all of the other things he’s done. To be a part of it and be a part of this organization moving forward is going to be exciting."
Q: Who’s going to wear No. 87, you or Jared Cook?
A: "I don’t know. I have Cook’s number in my phone, so I have to give him a call. But we’ll see. If he charges $1 for it, I don’t think I’ll pay. I’m a pretty cheap guy. I’ll have to work on my negotiating skills and see what we can do and what not. We’ll see. I haven’t looked at any of that. Never even thought about that coming in to this team or any other team that I was possibly going to go to. So, I’m not a big guy to worry about that stuff. I’ll figure out some number and we’ll go play football."
Q: How would assess your level of play right now?
A: "I think if you just combine the last two years — I think if you look two years ago, the year I won NFL Comeback Player of the Year coming off my ACL, I was still productive: 1,200 yards, I think it was 14 touchdowns or whatever. I think we had a lot of different things going on last year that obviously affected that. But I think I still can. I can still run. I can still catch. I think football at this level a lot of people focus on speed, but I mean I ran a 4.5 coming out of college. I wasn’t blazing then, either. It’s different when you get helmet and shoulder pads on. I think I can do that. I can make plays. Any play is a big play or just catching the slant. I look forward to just getting out, getting in rhythm with Derek and start forming that chemistry with him that I’ve had with Aaron [Rodgers] for the last 10 years. Continue to build off that. Just see what happens. Go out there and play my role in this offense. Make the plays that are available."
Q: How is it going to be suiting up for a different team after a decade with the Packers?
A: "It's exciting. I think it will be different. Obviously, the first time I even just put on an Oakland Raider hat or shirt and shorts and shoes and walk around this building when we come back in April will be different. Then when we go to practice and it’s helmets and then shoulder pads, then obviously the first game. All of that will be a first time for everything, but at the end of the day it’s going to be football. It’s also going to be exciting. My wife and I were excited when we got drafted to Green Bay because we were starting our life together. We both grew up together in a small town, so we hadn’t really been anywhere else besides Kansas. To be able to get away and form our family, now this is another opportunity for us to be in a different part of the country, experience something that’s completely different than rural Kansas or even rural Wisconsin. We look forward to that. Also, I mean, the Oakland Raiders is a great organization, historic organization. To come and be a part of that, an opportunity to so some great things and leave your mark on this organization like I was in the first one."
Q: When you got to Oakland did you think you’d take your other trips?
A: "The plan was to make some other trips, but you never know what’s going to happen. You get to a place and you enjoy it and they enjoy it. Obviously, there’s a financial part of that. One thing I didn’t want to do is fly around the country just because. I didn’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s time because I mean when I got here I saw all the time and work that they put in. I know all the other organizations were going to do the same thing. There’s a lot of jobs on the line. There’s a lot of guys hitting the free-agent market and they’re trying to organize things, so it’s not fair for me to just fly around just for fun just to see different areas. Once we got in here, enjoyed the fit. Obviously, the financial part was whatever they were going to do on that end. As a player, I don’t think you get involved in that too much. You have to figure out if the fit is right for you. Like I said, knowing some of the coaches, knowing a little bit about Derek, understanding the offense is something very similar. Different terminology, but similar to what I had in Green Bay. I think (that) will just allow this transition to be that much smoother and that’s what we need right now. We’re going to be on a tight window to be ready to go for offseason and into the season. Right now on a two-year deal, I need to go in, get going and make the most of it."
Q: Do you think you’ll be able to adjust to the Bay Area after being in Green Bay?
A: "Yeah, I’m getting to see a little bit of it. I’m also understanding that there’s different areas of the Bay Area. If it’s here actually in Oakland or outside of Oakland where Derek was showing me some of the guys live. I mean we were driving around and seeing the hillside, grass and cattle and deer running around. I think there’s still that aspect there. But also it’s going to be great to be close to the city and be able to go downtown and experience some different things that you might not be able to enjoy in Green Bay. I think you kind of get the best of both worlds here. Being able to maybe live a bit outside of town but also it’s easy to get into town and experience some great things. We’ll have to slowly figure that out, when to drive on the highways and when not to drive on the highways so we can make the most of our time. We’ll pick a lot of people’s brains to figure out what that is and we’ll learn from experience. I think we’re very laid-back people, my wife and I can handle a lot of different things. It’ll be great."
Q: Have you looked at the housing prices out here?
A: "I have. That’s what I told my wife. I said, 'When we sell our house in Green Bay, I don’t think it’s going to make it very far out here in Wisconsin.' That honestly will be an adjustment. You know that coming into it and you know what you’re getting out of it. The weather is going to be great, all that other stuff. It’s one of those things that will be an adjustment as well, but it’ll be a great experience. I guess I won’t buy as many movies or something to make up for the lost money in between."
Q: Does Derek Carr remind you of Aaron Rodgers or is that unfair this early?
A: "Definitely unfair right now. I haven’t even caught a ball from Derek yet. I think that’s something that I’ll obviously get to experience here in the next coming months. I have heard that (comparison before) and most likely I’m going to stay away from the comparison because I don’t think that’s fair to either one of them. For what Aaron has accomplished in this league is second to none pretty much, the way he performs day in and day out. I’m sure Derek is more welcoming that challenge to be that good for that long. There’s no reason to put that on him as well. Guys are going to be their own self. I look forward to seeing how he plays. I think that a lot of it could just be the demeanor on the field, the throws they can make and stuff like that. That’ll be something that’ll be a wait and see game for me and we’ll go from there."