Rob Gronkowski’s retirement from the NFL puts further stress on the New England Patriots’ skill position group, especially in one department: the team is lacking an outside target capable of beating one-on-one coverage on a consistent basis. Free agency additions Maurice Harris and Matt LaCosse could help but it is far from a guarantee, which means that adding more talent remains high up on New England’s list of priorities this offseason.
One player the reigning world champions reportedly had on their free agency radar, however, just disappeared off it: former Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson just pulled a Gronkowski and announced his very own retirement (via his former teammate and current NFL Network analyst James Jones). The soon-to-be 34-year-old had a slow start into free agency but saw some interest develop during the second wave of signings. However, he apparently decided to go another way.
But even if Nelson hadn’t retired today, he would not have been the answer to the Patriots’ offensive personnel questions: after all, the team needs an infusion of both talent and youth in combination with cheap rookie deals to create financial flexibility that was lacking in both 2018 and 2019. Signing a veteran like the former second-round draft pick would not have been a long-term solution or one limiting the need to draft outside pass catching talent.
Nelson, meanwhile, retires as one of the most productive receivers in the Packers’ storied history: including playoffs, he appeared in 149 games for the club and registered 604 catches for a combined 8,516 yards and 74 touchdowns — including one during Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl 45. In 2018, the veteran moved on to the Raiders for whom he played in 15 games with 63 catches for 739 yards and 3 scores.