There may never be a receiver more perfect for Aaron Rodgers than Jordy Nelson, who is retiring from the NFL after 10 seasons with Rodgers in Green Bay and one final season in Oakland.
Rodgers and Nelson developed a deep, unshakable bond. The benefits of that relationship manifested on the field, where Rodgers connected with Nelson for 65 touchdown passes and a ridiculous passer rating of 123.1 – making them one of the most deadly efficient but underrated quarterback-receiver combinations in NFL history.
The two created big play after big play down the field. Nelson used his track star speed to outrun defensive backs and Rodgers never hesitated to uncork the deep ball, especially off of playaction fakes. Nelson caught 106 passes over 20 yards and another 29 over 40 yards while in Green Bay, with 13 touchdown passes from Rodgers over 50 yards and five over 75.
The two were dynamite in the red zone: Rodgers and Nelson connected for 43 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line, more than any other quarterback and receiver combination between 2008-17. Their mind-melt made making plays in the confined spaces of the red zone look easy.
The two were at times unstoppable at the back-shoulder throw and throws along the sideline. Rodgers trusted Nelson implicitly and their symbiotic connection produced special completions. Nelson’s body control near the boundary combined with Rodgers’ anticipation and accuracy re-wrote the book on the back-shoulder throw, a staple play for the pair.
Often, when Nelson was at the top of his game, Rodgers was playing at an MVP level. In 2011, Nelson caught 15 of Rodgers’ 45 touchdown passes as the Packers averaged 35.0 points per game, went 15-1 and Rodgers won MVP. Three years later, Nelson set career highs in catches (98), receiving yards (1,519) and catches over 40 yards (8) and Rodgers won his second MVP.