Jordy Nelson appears to have a second Raiders season on tap. The longtime Packers wide receiver signed a two-year deal with the Raiders, but some speculation existed about the rebuilding team moving on after one season.
Jon Gruden confirmed Friday that Nelson will return next season. The Raiders also moved up a $3.6M Nelson roster bonus to be paid today rather than in 2019, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
“If you watched Jordy play carefully the last four weeks when he’s been healthy, you see what he’s capable of doing, … I think you can even see better and better days ahead,” Gruden said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter links). So yeah, he’ll be back. … Normally when you hand out a bonus for next year’s season, there’s a pretty good chance those guys are coming back.”
That puts Tahir Whitehead, tight end Lee Smith and linebacker Kyle Wilber in line to be Raiders in their to-be-determined city next season. The Raiders paid Whitehead his $3.325M bonus, with Smith collecting $1.1M and Wilber $500K, Yates adds. These moves will spread out said bonuses’ cap hits across 2018 and ’19.
Nelson will be 34 when next season starts. He said earlier this week (via Bair, on Twitter) he wanted to play at least one more season. Jared Cook leads the Raiders in receiving, but Nelson bounced back from a dismal 2017 with 661 receiving yards on one of the NFL’s worst offenses, 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. While the latter figure is still below his prime work, Nelson is one of the NFL’s oldest wideouts.