Our sports crew reacts to the Packers' big moves on Tuesday, including parting ways with local favorite Jordy Nelson. If you missed it, the Packers are set to make two big free agent signings:
Reports: Packers sign DL Muhammad Wilkerson
Packers to sign TE Jimmy Graham to 3-year deal
The news that has people talking, though, is that Jordy Nelson is no longer a Green Bay Packer:
Green Bay Packers Release WR Jordy Nelson
Our iHeartMedia sports crew had some instant reaction to the Packers' big moves on Tuesday.
Drew Olson, The Drew Olson Show: A lot of Packers fans were crushed by the Jordy Nelson news, but I think it was the right decision. He caught some TDs from Aaron Rodgers early in the season, but was a non-factor with Hundley. OK, Hundley was awful. But, Nelson’s inability to create separation - and almost stunning ability to gain any yards after the catch - told me that he was done. Randall Cobb is younger, more versatile and suited to slot duty (and occasional running plays). He could also pinch-hit for the punt returner. He’s simply more versatile and valuable.
I think Graham’s best days may be behind him, but… I also think he’s a significant upgrade over what they had after last season. I think he could be better than Jared Cook at the end of 2016. So, it seemed like a solid pickup.
Brian Posick, iHeartMedia Milwaukee/Madison Sports Director: Aaron Rodgers' tweet about Jordy Nelson I think summed up what most Packers fans feel. It was a sad day. Of course, when Ted Thompson drafted Nelson in the 2nd round, most of us thought he made a mistake. It didn't take long for Nelson to prove it was a brilliant selection. He became one of the top-5 receivers in the history of one of the greatest franchises in pro sports history and by all accounts was exactly what a professional athlete should be. A fantastic player and a better person.
Robb Vogel, Lucas in the Morning: While the Packers moves are a bit bittersweet. Getting Graham seems like a good move, but is it more name than numbers? Wilkerson is a boost up front for the defense. Jordy's departure, while not completely unexpected, still stings given what he's meant to the the team and the way he represented the franchise. All the moves still feel incomplete until the hole that is the secondary is addressed. It will be interesting to see how that plays out and where Jordy ends up.
K.B., The Drew Olson Show: While Jordy has been a great adopted son for the people of Wisconsin, at the end of the day he was the odd man out in the receiver corps. The one thing painfully missing from the Packers offensive weapons arsenal over the last couple years was a dependable tight end. The addition of Graham should give Aaron another option in the passing game that he can be confident in going to when the need arises.
Joel Finkelman, Lucas in the Morning: Let’s start with Jimmy Graham. When was the Packers offense its best under Aaron Rodgers? 2011. What did that offense have that it hasn’t in a long, long time? A top tier tight end. Jimmy Graham can absolutely be that guy but he also was the guy who couldn’t find a place in Seattle’s offense that had Russell Wilson running around for hours behind the line of scrimmage. Seriously, if you can’t get open with a guy like that buying as much time as humanly possible, maybe you just can’t get open like you used to in New Orleans.
But I digress. As long as Graham can stay healthy and establish a quick connection with Rodgers this could absolutely go very well. And at the very worst it will still go better than Marty B being a completely disloyal quitting loser (yes he was disloyal to his teammates, he quit on the team that signed him, and winners don’t quit so he’s a loser).
Now onto Jordy Nelson. Back to 2011 when the Packers offense was boat racing opponents on a weekly basis the receiving group included Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb and of course Jordy. All of those guys made big contributions but only one of them had a special play. It was a play that every single Packer fan knew. Every opposing coach knew, every opposing player knew and yet it didn’t matter
Rodgers would take the ball under center and fake a handoff to the running back who ran to the left following the line who absolutely sold run block left. Rodgers would then roll out to his right, wind up, and heave the ball a mile. Jordy Nelson would catch it and waltz into the end zone. Everyone knew this play was there but nobody could stop it. That’s the Jordy I’ll always remember. That and the fact that he was always the guy over the last couple years when Rodgers needed a big first down or a back shoulder touchdown. He was incredible to watch and absolutely will be a packer fan favorite for the rest of his life should he go the Donald Driver/Gilbert Brown route and hang around town as much as possible. Unfortunately in this sport more than any other, things change in a hurry.
Remember that play I mentioned earlier? Think about the last time it worked with Jordy as the receiver. He simply doesn’t have the same speed he had before and that’s crippling for a guy like him. It got so bad that the team started running that play with other receivers and it simply didn’t work. Either teams had learned, or they didn’t have he connection with Rodgers. And that may be the saddest part of all. Nelson and Rodgers were synaptically connected like they physically shared a brain space. That can’t be replicated by anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money they spend or draft receivers, you just can’t teach that.
Between the fact that Rodgers loved him, the fans loved him, the coaches loved him and his teammates loved him, I’d say it’s a bittersweet moment for the Packers. I truly hope the front office didn’t find a way to anger him and that someday he will get the chance to have Lambeau Field serenade him with a standing ovation that he absolutely deserves.
Tim Scott, The Boss (of all of us): Love the Graham deal... [I] just hope he has some gas left in the tank. It's hard as a fan to say goodbye to good guys like Jordy Nelson, but [it's] the business. He will look good in a Pats uniform.
Armen Saryan, The Drew Olson Show: This would be a very, very tough job for fans to do because of the way emotions get involved. There is no doubt that fans love Jordy and what he meant, but you pragmatically have to understand why this was a wise business decision for the Packers to make. It's too much cap space to not free up for this team, in relation to what Jordy offered on the field. As long as the Packers did their due diligence to try and get him to sign a restructured deal, which is sounds like they did, it's hard to question this as a football move.
Graham seems like a good pickup on paper, just like Martellus Bennett did. So we will see how it works out. I thought the deal for Wilkerson was tremendous value. There should be a lot of cap space left here for them to plug more holes (secondary).
Jimmie Kaska, Donut Consumer: Didn't the Packers say they were going to be more aggressive in free agency? This isn't Madden. (If it was, you would've cut or traded Nelson the second the first digit his age had a "3" in front of it, don't kid yourself). There's a cost to every move. Green Bay adds to both sides of the ball, and has so far addressed three positions of need: backup quarterback, tight end, and defensive line. The last of those three probably seems like the one area they didn't need to necessarily improve as much, but injuries and other stuff happens. A former Pro Bowler on a show-me contract? Yes, please.
There's still more moves to make. Defensive back is a priority for everyone in the NFL, but Green Bay has a clear need for more corners, even after drafting defensive backs with their two second-round picks last year. It'll be an interesting NFL Draft this year.
Mitch "Thunder" Nelles, The Big 920: Wish Jimmy was here 3 years ago… would have made a HUGE difference then. Now – ish? It was time for Jordy to go
Pete Knutson, iHeartMedia-Eau Claire Sports Director: I think that this day signaled the beginning of the end of the Packers as we know them. Nelson wasn't unbelievably great, but he was good enough that a team with good management would have figured out a way to keep him. They cut him mainly to free up cap space, which they still don't have a lot of. Jimmy Graham is at the twilight of his career and is a shell of what he used to be. He will not solve the major issues this team has.
In the end, I think the biggest move of the day for the Packers was the Vikings signing Cousins for $28 million per year. I don't say that because the Vikings just solidified themselves as the best team in the division (which they did), but because the Vikings priced the Packers out of being able to resign Rodgers. He will demand over $30 million per year when they renegotiate next off season and the Packers will not want to pay it. With Nelson gone, and a new coaching staff and management, Rodgers will go, and the Packers will struggle (to put it mildly). Maybe this is too gloom and doom, I just think the end of the Rodgers era got moved up on the calendar.
Intern Josh, The Drew Olson Show: The offseason moves made by the Packers yesterday perfectly define the difficulty between letting go of the past and looking to the future. Nothing makes you forget losing one of your favorite player like winning a championship; hopefully that’s the result.
Brad Berg, The Big 1070 Producer: Sooner or later the Packers will find a TE to replace Bubba Franks. The two signed last year were less than spectacular. It proves that Rodgers wants a big guy in the middle to throw to. They’ve had lot of success with a TE scoring TDS in the red zone. It has been talked about for months that the Packers were heavy on WRs this year. Someone was going to be on the outside looking in. Nelson’s down year put him on the hot seat. He’ll find work elsewhere. He’ll be ok. Yeah it’s sad to see him go, but it’s a business.
Spenser Williams, The Big 920 Reporter: It will be different not having Jordy in the Locker room and on the team, but I am excited for Jimmy Graham and Mo Wilkerson.
Photo: Getty Images