Nelson's deal might be another bargain

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 2011, Jordy Nelson signed a contract extension that turned out to be a bargain for the Green Bay Packers at three years for $12.6 million.

The way Nelson performed in the team's first training camp practice Saturday, the four-year, $39 million extension he agreed to on the same day looked like another win for the team.

Nelson did not get the $10 million per year deal he was seeking, but he came close enough.

And then he went out on the practice field and did what he has done for the last three seasons -- performed like one of the NFL's top receivers.

In the span of four plays during a team period, Nelson made two catches that perhaps only a handful of other receivers in the league would make. He hauled in a deep corner route along the left sideline on a ball that quarterback Aaron Rodgers placed perfectly between cornerback Sam Shields and safety Micah Hyde. Both Shields and Hyde shrugged in amazement as Nelson finished the play. Three plays later, Nelson snagged a crossing route against tight coverage from first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

"I think he's got the best instincts of a receiver I've ever played with," Rodgers said after practice. "He has incredible reactions -– second, third reactions. He knows where he needs to get to, what spot on the field to make the proper play. He has a very wide margin of error as a receiver.

"He can go up and get the ball at the high point. He can catch the ball on his toes like he did against San Diego back in '11 up there and roll in the end zone. He's made one-handed catches around here. He's made big-time plays in the Super Bowl. He's made plays in big games to get us victories. He's a very consistent, reliable guy who has really extended himself as a leader in this locker room and in the receiver room, and it's really exciting to see him get a new deal."

Nelson's deal does not pay him on par with the highest-paid receivers such as Detroit’s Calvin Johnson ($16.207 million average per year), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald ($16.142 million) or even Seattle’s Percy Harvin ($12.9 million). But he's safely in the next tier, which includes Chicago's Brandon Marshall ($10 million) and Minnesota's Greg Jennings ($9 million).

Although the complete breakdown of Nelson's contract extension was not yet available, it included an $11.5 million signing bonus. Nelson was scheduled to earn $3.5 million this season in base salary ($3.05 million) and bonuses. His average per year of $4.2 million on his previous contract extension placed him 34th among all NFL receivers going into this season.

Clearly, he was worth more than that.

"I don't like the word 'worth' because to be honest with you, I don’t think any of us are worth this money," Nelson said. "But it's your value and the business we're a part of."

Nelson and Rodgers clearly have a strong connection as evident by the fact that in their first on-field session since the June minicamp, they looked like they were in postseason form -– albeit without pads.

But Nelson also has shown he is not just a product of playing with an MVP quarterback. Last season, he posted career numbers in receptions (85) and yards (1,314) despite playing without Rodgers for nearly eight full games.

Nelson said earlier this offseason that he could never spend the money he made from his last deal but joked on Saturday, "I'm going to spend all this."