Aaron Nagler speaks with Pete Dougherty about the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham to the Packers offense as well as the departure of wide receiver Jordy Nelson. USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
ORLANDO, Fla. - Former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson said in a radio interview Monday that the organization’s rigidity with its revised contract, coupled with what appeared to be a planned change in his role in the offense, convinced him to decline the restructured offer and head into free agency.
Nelson was willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Packers, but the disappointment in how general manager Brian Gutekunst and the front office handled the negotiations was enough to seek employment somewhere else.
“I think the hurt part, to be honest, was the unwillingness to try to make it work,” Nelson said on ESPN Milwaukee. “Then again, it’s a business and they have to do what they think is best and what they need to do to be able to move forward and prepare for the future of the Packers.
“But we’ve moved on. We’re looking forward to Oakland, we’re looking forward to California and experiencing that for a couple years.”
Nelson’s comments came on the heels of a media session with team president Mark Murphy at the annual league meeting at The Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. Murphy was comfortable with the way things played out between Nelson and the Packers and believes Gutekunst traversed a difficult situation as best he could.
“I think Brian handled that well,” Murphy said. “Whenever you move on from a player like Jordy, you’re going to face that (backlash). That’s just the reality. And I give Brian — I think he actually met with Jordy in person. I think Jordy may have been at player rep meetings, and he came back and so we wanted to make sure that it was handled well. And it’s just difficult. I told Jordy and Morgan (Burnett), ‘You’ll be remembered as Packers.’ And we want them to come back and feel good about their experience here
“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 in the position I’m in now to work in a way that the players at least have an understanding why decisions are made.
“I mean, Jordy, you couldn’t have asked for more, and Morgan was the same kind of person. But Jordy was such a leader on the team, he’s our player rep, respected throughout the community (and) across the league. But the nature of our business with the salary cap, you really have to make difficult decisions, and I give Brian credit for being willing to make some of those tough ones.”
“What we have tried to do over the years is provide the resources to football so they can make decisions based on football, not business matters. That cuts both ways. And if you think you need the money and we have it to sign somebody you can do it, but also, I’m not going to say you can’t release somebody because he’s really popular in the community.”
Nelson was asked during the radio interview if there was a dollar amount he would have felt comfortable accepting, and in reality, the monetary issue was one of several deterrents that lessened the desire to stay in Green Bay.
“I think the number was part of it, but also the conversation that I had in the meeting,” Nelson said. “I met with Brian and had discussions because I had to get a feel for not just the pay cut, but what their plans were going forward.”
“After that meeting, there wasn’t, I don’t think, much desire there (to keep me). I think it was a combination of both. We decided what was best for myself and our family as they decided what was best for them and the Packers.”
Nelson also touched on several other topics during the interview:
» Nelson said he was highly sought after once the Packers made their move, with several teams calling right after he was released.
» Asked how much he has left in the tank, Nelson said his body feels great but that he’ll be taking it year by year.
» Asked whether he will continue hosting his annual charity softball game in Appleton, Nelson said, "I don't think I'm going to be there" for the June event due to logistical reasons.
That was news to Aaron Hahn, vice president and assistant general manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who help sponsor the game. Hahn said he didn’t hear the radio interview and hasn’t heard anything official from Nelson.
Hahn said discussions about whether Nelson would be available for the softball game were still taking place late last week.
“I know they’re working on it on their end,” Hahn said.
» Nelson also ruled out an Eddie Lacy-style garage sale when he sells his Green Bay home, saying "I wouldn't do that to my neighbors."
Chris Mueller of the Appleton Post-Crescent contributed to this report.