The release itself isn’t that surprising after the club traded for Antonio Brown and signed top free agent wideout Tyrell Williams, but the circumstances surrounding it are a bit odd. At the end of December, head coach Jon Gruden announced that Nelson would be back in 2019 to finish out the two-year pact he signed last offseason, and they even moved up a $3.6MM roster bonus to be paid at the time of the announcement. Essentially, then, the Raiders gave Nelson $3.6MM for no real reason.
Of course, they did not know at the time that they would be adding two top wideouts to their club, and they still create some cap savings with the move. And, as Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets, the door is not closed on a Nelson return.
Nelson, though, may find a better opportunity on the free agent market. Even though he will turn 34 in May, he showed he still has a little something left in the tank in 2018, bumping his yards-per-catch average from a career-low 9.1 (in the largely Aaron Rodgers-less ’17 Packers slate) to 12.2 with Derek Carr.
He ended the 2018 season with 63 catches for 739 yards and three scores, and he played particularly well down the stretch.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.