One of the most covered topics this off-season has been the improved receiver corp for the Raiders and specifically the benefits of adding veteran Jordy Nelson. Like everything else in football, those benefits are up to the eye of the beholder.
In this case, the eye belonging to Zach Kruse of Bleacher Report lists swapping Jordy Nelson for Michael Crabtree as the Raiders’ biggest mistake this off-season.
”The Raiders released 30-year-old Michael Crabtree and signed 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, swapping out a receiver with an established connection with Derek Carr for a receiver who has played for only one quarterback in his NFL career.
Actually, check that. Nelson spent seven games with Brett Hundley last season, and he produced next to nothing.
Crabtree’s numbers dipped over 14 games last season, but Nelson fell off the face of the earth without Aaron Rodgers. From Week 7 on, Nelson failed to produce a single game with at least 40 receiving yards, and he averaged fewer than four yards per catch in three games. He finished the season with 53 catches for 482 yards, both career lows over a full season.
Nelson has lost much of his deep speed and intermediate quickness, and he struggled to make contested catches and pick up yards after the catch. Father Time is catching up with him quickly.
The Raiders would have been better off sticking with Crabtree for another year.”
He could be right if Nelson doesn’t play well on the field, but so far throughout the off-season there have been nothing but rave reviews for him in the Silver & Black. He has been a vocal component to the receiver room and a welcome addition as of now so it’s a bit surprising seeing anybody think his addition is the biggest blunder for the Raiders.
The reasoning behind this critique is faulty though, mainly because the biggest issue he finds in Nelson is his lack of experience/production with a different QB than Aaron Rodgers. They used last season with Brett Hundley and decided Nelson’s lack of production was definitive proof of a massive decline in ability.
Only using the last half of last season with Brett Hundley as proof of Jordy Nelson’s age catching up with him is disregarding the complete lack of cohesion that Hundley had with any Packers receiver not named Davante Adams. There were many instances in which Nelson was open but Hundley didn’t get him the ball. That’s not definitive proof that Nelson is no longer a productive player.
Then there’s the folly in labeling the swapping of Crabtree for Nelson as the Raiders biggest off-season blunder is disregarding the negatives that Crabtree was bringing with his diva attitude. He got into a massive melee with the Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, reportedly lost the trust of the coaching staff last season, and that of his quarterback.
Crabtree had a great connection with Derek Carr for much of his career in Oakland, but it seemed like his time was up with the franchise. We won’t know until the season starts if adding Nelson and cutting Crabtree was a blunder after all, but it sure doesn’t feel like it right now. Let’s hope it stays that way throughout the 2018 season.