In signing wide receiver Jordy Nelson, the Raiders are hoping they're getting the guy who made so many big plays for so long with the Green Bay Packers.
They're gambling that some steep declines in his production numbers are just a fluke and that the 32-year-old — who will soon turn 33 — will be the same guy who showed great hands, ran precise routes and made big yards after catches all those years from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Nelson has signed a two-year deal with Oakland worth as much as $15 million, with $13 million guaranteed. In signing Nelson, too, the Raiders decided to release starting wideout Michael Crabtree. Nelson now will join a wide receiver corps that includes Amari Cooper, Cordarrelle Patterson and Seth Roberts.
"Absolutely excited to be a part of the offense," Nelson told reporters Thursday in a conference call, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. "I think (coach Jon Gruden) is a guy who has a creative mind. I think he's going to stay true to who he is, but also is willing to learn and adjust to what he has and play to the skill level that each of his players have. I think everyone knows the intensity that he’s going to bring. He’ll bring it day in and day out."
In 10 seasons with Green Bay, the 6-foot-3 Nelson caught 65 touchdown throws from Rodgers. But, as Gutierrez noted, his production dramatically declined last season when Rodgers was hurt. Nelson had six TDs in the first five games with Rodgers and zero TDs the rest of the season without him.
Also, as Chris Wesseling of NFL.com noted, some believe Nelson has started to lose some of the speed that allowed him to separate from cornerbacks most of his career. The past three seasons he's played, Nelson's yards-per-catch average has dropped from 15.5 to 13.0 to a career-low 9.1.
Still, just two seasons ago in 2016, Nelson had 97 catches for 1,257 yards and a league-high 14 TDs. That was a season, too, in which he came back from missing all of 2015 because of a broken collarbone.
Now, Nelson is excited to play with quarterback Derek Carr, who spent much of Wednesday with him, checking out different places in the Bay Area.
Nelson says, though, that he’s not going to compare Carr to Rodgers.
"I haven't even caught a ball from Derek yet," said Nelson. "I think that's something that I'll obviously get to experience here in the next coming months … Most likely I'm going to stay away from that comparison because I don't think it's fair to either one of them."