Oakland Raiders: Retaining WR Jordy Nelson in 2019 is a must

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

Whether or not you’ve been impressed with Jordy Nelson this season, there’s plenty of reason for the Oakland Raiders to retain the veteran receiver in 2019.

Warranted or not, it’s easy to consider Jordy Nelson‘s first season with the Oakland Raiders a bust. While the stat sheet might not paint the picture of a complete letdown, he certainly didn’t have the overall impact the Raiders were likely expecting when they signed him back in March.

And yet, Oakland would be making a mistake in letting the veteran wide receiver go in 2019.

For contextual purposes, there have been calls for Nelson to get the ax this offseason. Although he technically has one year left on his deal, the Raiders would create zero dead cap space by cutting the cord a season into their pact with the aging wide receiver.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

Before we dive into why he should stay, though, let’s look at what he’s done for the Raiders so far this season. Heading into Week 17, Nelson has amassed 54 catches for 661 yards and three touchdowns. Those aren’t awful numbers by most standards, but not quite the production you’d expect from a receiver who signed a two-year, $14.2 million deal earlier this year.

The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story, though.

As has been in the case in recent years, Nelson has struggled mightily to stay healthy. That was the case this season as well, as knee and foot injuries have slowed him. And yet, now that he’s finally getting back to full health, we’ve seen glimpses of what he could bring to the table for the Raiders in 2019.

Just look at the last few games if you’re unsure of what I’m referring to.

Over the last four outings, Nelson has hauled in 29 passes for 308 yards. He hasn’t struck paydirt in that timeframe, but he’s played a pivotal role in getting this Oakland offense moving. Although we can’t place it squarely on his shoulders, the Raiders have won two of those four games.

Clearly the 33-year-old receiver can still compete. Derek Carr and him have developed some chemistry in recent weeks, which leads me to believe Nelson would be an asset on this roster moving forward. As it so happens, the former Green Bay Packers star hasn’t been shy about his interest in staying with the franchise.

As Nelson mentioned, though, it’s not necessarily up to him. With Jon Gruden tearing it down and building from the ground up, paying an aging, injury-prone receiver $7.2 million may not be in the master plan. Then again, with how much cap space the Raiders are expected to have in 2019 (about $78 million, according to Spotrac.com), I’m sure they could find some way to keep Nelson aboard.

Realistically, that’s what needs to happen. Even if it means Nelson taking a pay cut to do so.

It’s clear he brings plenty of value to the equation, whether it’s as a playmaker in the passing game or mentor to young receivers. Even if Nelson isn’t Carr’s go-to option in 2019 like he has been over the last month, it’s difficult to deny he can make a difference for the Raiders next season.

Maybe Nelson didn’t turn out to be the top target so many Raiders fans were hoping for. You could probably make a case that swapping him in for Michael Crabtree wasn’t the best idea. And yet, he’s quickly proven he’s worth having around during this massive rebuild.

Revisiting Reggie McKenzie's laughable draft history. dark. Next

For how much change the Raiders are likely to undergo this upcoming offseason, sticking with Nelson seems like a solid way to bring some semblance of stability to the roster.