At the end of last season, the Raiders made a commitment to Jordy Nelson. They gave him his 2019 bonus of some $4 million, which was a way of saying he would be back. Less than three months later, he was cut. And days after that, he announced he would be retiring.
So, what happened? Why would Gruden give Nelson all that money only to let him go.
What happened was the team replaced him. And at the time they gave him the bonus — probably a reason why you don’t do that — they have no idea they would be in the position to replace Nelson, who was the team’s top wide receiver in 2018 at that age of 33.
Nelson appeared on the Dan Patrick show Wednesday where he discussed how he went from being assured a spot in 2019 to unemployed.
“They just gave me a nice retirement gift, I guess,” Nelson said with a laugh. “I don’t know, it’s a crazy business as people find out each and every year. I think they just got some free agents that they didn’t think they were going to get or be a part of, is what I’ve been told. But, yeah, it’s an interesting business.”
Gruden and Mayock were among several teams in play to trade for Steelers disgruntled wide receiver, Antonio Brown. They were surprised that they would win that sweepstakes and suddenly had arguably the best receiver in football.
That trade wasn’t enough to push out Nelson. But with it came the signing of Tyrell Williams, who the team said had greater interest because of teaming up with Brown.
Nelson says without a doubt that had the team not gotten Antonio Brown, that he would still be a Raider. But that it was about more than just his signing, but the total amount of money the Raiders spent early in free agency.
“I don’t think it was necessarily just Antonio Brown,” Nelson continued. “I think when they signed Tyrell Williams and even Trent Brown, the tackle from the Patriots, I think they were just spending a lot more money than what they were expecting to spend.”
In total, the Raiders signed four players to large, long term deals. Along with the two Browns and Williams, they also added defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. But most importantly, they now had way too much money tied up in the wide receiver positions and Nelson was the odd man out.
The Raiders offered to have Nelson back at a reduced salary, but he declined. The only interest he received was from the Seahawks and he paid a visit to Seattle, but in the end wasn’t interested in moving his family again.
This was the second time in a year Nelson was the odd man out. He was released by the Packers last offseason where he had spent the first ten years of his career. When he was cut by the Raiders, he heard nothing from the Packers about a return, he made the decision to retire.
He will, however, be signing a one-day contract with the Packers this offseason so he can retire as a Packer.