In 10 seasons with the Packers, Nelson became a fan favorite and developed a close relationship with franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers were expected to take a different approach to free agency under new general manager Brian Gutekunst, but it was a surprising move for an executive who's two months into his new job.
"I think Jordy is a really good player, and you certainly don't want to let him walk out the door, but this is a big puzzle, and there's limitations," Gutekunst said, according to Wes Hodkiewicz of Packers.com. "You can't keep everybody. As we went through this, we thought this was in our best interest. The best interest for our team moving forward."
Nelson signed a four-year, $39-million extension with the Packers in 2014. His release clears $10.2 million in salary cap space for a team still looking to fill some holes, particularly on defense.
On offense, the Packers still have Davante Adams and Randall Cobb at receiver and reportedly intend to sign free-agent tight end Jimmy Graham.
"(Nelson's) a good player, and those shoes will be hard to fill," said Gutekunst, who reportedly spoke with Rodgers after the move. "We're going to work really hard to try to do that."
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