GREEN BAY, Wis. — If the Green Bay Packers offered Jordy Nelson a pay cut — and indications are they did — then it must have been so low that the one-time Pro Bowl receiver decided to take his chances somewhere else.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst would not say whether that was an option before he released Nelson on Tuesday, although he indicated there were several scenarios that were discussed before the decision was reached.
“There were a lot of discussions that went on,” Gutekunst said. “In fairness to him, we won’t get into those kind of discussions.”
Nelson was due to make $10.25 million in salary and bonuses in the final season of a four-year $39 million deal. With Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, the Packers had three receivers who would have combined to take up more than $35.7 million in salary cap space this season. Instead, the Packers will wipe off Nelson’s $9.25 million base salary plus a $500,000 roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus.
He indicated publicly last season that he might be open to restructuring his deal, but Gutekunst also wouldn’t say whether there was a number — either salary-cap or cash — that would have allowed Nelson to remain with the team that drafted him at No. 36 overall in 2008. But a source said he told teammates that he was opposed to a pay cut unless it was within reason.
ESPN Wisconsin reported that the Packers offered Nelson the chance to return at a significantly reduced salary.
“There [are] those kind of things that you go through,” Gutekunst said. “But at the end of the day, I think ultimately we just decided that where we’re heading, this is the best decision for us — without getting into too many details.”
There also does not appear to be a possibility that Nelson could be re-signed in the foreseeable future.
“I don’t think at this time,” Gutekunst said. “You never say never. We’d like to keep that relationship as strong as possible, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say at this time.”
It was less than two weeks ago when Gutekunst described Nelson as a good player and said he didn’t want to let good players walk out the door. Nelson ranks third in team history in catches (550), fifth in receiving yards (7,848) and second in touchdowns (69). He and Aaron Rodgers also hold the franchise record for most touchdowns (65) between a receiver-quarterback duo.
“Nothing changed,” Gutekunst said. “I think Jordy is a really good player, and you certainly don’t want to let him walk out the door. But this is a big puzzle, and there’s kind of limitations. You can’t keep everybody. As we went through this, we thought this was in our best interest. The best interest for our team moving forward.”
Gutekunst said he spoke with Rodgers about it after the Packers decided to release Nelson.
Rodgers then posted a tribute to Nelson on Instagram.