Packers shake up depth chart by releasing Jordy Nelson after signing Jimmy Graham

Just minutes after reports of the Packers adding tight end Jimmy Graham surfaced, more shocking news popped up in Green Bay, as the Packers will reportedly release longtime wide receiver Jordy Nelson, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Graham signing was one of the bigger pieces of news during Tuesday's free-agency action, with Drew Brees having re-signed in New Orleans and many believing it would result in a reunion with Graham in the Bayou. But then the Packers decided to really shake things up and make a move for Graham. 

It appears a corresponding move may have been the shocking release of Nelson, who has long been one of the top targets for Aaron Rodgers, and who was one of the top receivers in the NFL over the last half decade.

But, in the words of Pete Prisco, if you are old and slow and make too much dough, you must go. 

The Packers signed Davante Adams, a younger draft pick who has broken out the last two years, to an extension last year. Nelson, who dominated down the stretch of 2016 after returning from a torn ACL suffered the year before, struggled in 2017. 

Nelson finished with just 53 catches for 482 yards and six touchdowns. He had a career low 9.1 yards per reception on the season, although it is worth noting Rodgers missed a large portion of the season. But, at the age of 32, Nelson looked noticeably slower than he had in years past. On the other hand, Nelson led the league in touchdowns (14) in 2016.

Ultimately this was the result of a salary-cap crunch. Cutting Nelson, who was slated to have a cap hit of more than $12 million, gives the Packers $10 million in salary-cap space and likely allows them to be more creative and aggressive in free agency.

It was rumored on Monday that Green Bay might get involved with either Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson in free agency, but both guys are heading to different destinations. Robinson is staying in the NFC North, but has agreed to terms with the Bears, while Watkins is headed to Kansas City to be another weapon for Patrick Mahomes

Nelson stands to get plenty of action in free agency despite his numbers from last year. Some potential landing spots: the 49ers (need more veteran help for young QB Jimmy Garoppolo), the Cowboys (secretly don't have a ton of wide receivers, no offense to Dez Bryant), the Ravens (always in search of WR help since missing on Breshad Perriman and they're losing Mike Wallace), the Panthers (need someone across from Devin Funchess) and, of course, the Patriots (star veterans who are released somehow find their way to New England). 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories
    24/7 Scores, News, Highlights
    FREE ON ALL YOUR DEVICES