Brian Gutekunst is on the board with an addition and a subtraction.
The new Green Bay Packers general manager and the team have reportedly agreed on a 3-year deal with veteran tight end Jimmy Graham, while also releasing wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Graham are reportedly friends and talking about playing together this offseason, so it seems like the two-time MVP will be happy with that pickup. But the cutting of one of his favorite targets — Nelson — will hit Rodgers and the locker room hard.
Off to a fast start in 2017 with six touchdowns in the first five games, Nelson was virtually invisible once Rodgers went down in Week 6 of the season. He managed to average just 9.1 yards per catch for the year — easily his career low — and had 53 catches total. This after he earned NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2016 when led the NFL with 14 touchdowns coming off a missed season due to a torn ACL.
“We cannot thank Jordy enough for all that he has given the Green Bay Packers and our community for the past 10 years,” Gutekunst said in a statement post on the team’s website. “He has been an exemplary professional and teammate and greatly contributed to our success. Jordy will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. We wish Jordy, his wife Emily, and the rest of their family all the best.”
Nelson’s contract would have him counting about $12.5 million against the salary cap in 2018, and it’s unclear if the Packers asked him to take a pay cut. By cutting him, they reportedly gain $10.2 million in cap space.
As for the addition, what the Packers get in Graham is a 6-foot-7 weapon over the middle that Green Bay thought it had with Martellus Bennett when he signed last year. That didn’t work out, obviously, as Rodgers got hurt and Bennett ended up being released.
Statistically, Graham is among the best tight ends of the last 10 years. He’s got 556 receptions for 6,800 yards and 69 touchdowns. But the Miami product, who will turn 32 in November, saw a sharp decline in production in 2017 with the Seattle Seahawks. Some of that could the offensive issues they had along the offensive line and injuries at other spots, but his 520 receiving yards were the fewest since his rookie with New Orleans, and he averaged just 9.1 yards per catch, the lowest of his career.