Nelson, who is entering the final season under contract, is reasonably confident he won't face the same fate.
"I think it's a little bit different because we've gotten a lot younger," Nelson said after Tuesday's organized team activity. "If I were to walk and you've got Randall (Cobb), who could possibly walk (in free agency, as well), now you're down to all rookies besides Boink (Jarrett Boykin). I think it'll be different. I wouldn't be surprised if stuff (negotiations) starts picking up soon now that the draft and everything's done with. There's a time frame they work off of, so I've been informed of that so we'll just wait and see when it hits. Everyone knows, deals get done closer to training camp."
Nelson, who recently turned 29, is the established star of the Packers' receiving corps. He caught 85 passes for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013, in spite of a revolving door at quarterback. He is playing in the final year of a contract extension agreed to in October 2011.
By today's standards, Nelson is playing for relative chump change. The deal, which included a $3.5 million signing bonus, pays him a base salary of $2.55 million this season. In terms of annual salary, Nelson's ranks 36th among receivers, according to OverTheCap.com.
"I don't have any regrets," he said about that contract. "It's easy to say that now. I go out and blow out my knee halfway through the season, now I'm the smart one. Trust me. What I got in that last deal, I'll never spend it all, anyway, so I'm not worried about it."
Obviously, Nelson would prefer a deal to get done sooner than later so the questions aren't lingering over his head all season. He doesn't seem concerned, though, with about eight weeks to go until the start of training camp.
"I was trying to get it done here because I knew you guys would ask," he said with a laugh. "Yeah, it's not just the questions. You want it done so you and your family are comfortable, you want it done so you don't have to worry about it, it's just one less thing on your mind. I think on both sides. They get it done they can start working on someone else."
That "someone else" presumably would be Cobb, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Cobb threatened the franchise's single-season record for all-purpose yardage in 2012 but missed 10 games in 2013 with a broken leg.
"I'm not a businessman so I don't really know that side of it," Cobb said of his situation. "That's what I have an agent for — for him to handle that kind of thing. That's for the Packers to decide and figure out."
Two deals should help figure out Nelson's contract. Chicago gave Brandon Marshall a four-year extension worth $39.3 million last month. The top receiver in free agency, Eric Decker, signed a five-year deal with the Jets worth $36.25 million. Nelson's deal figures to be somewhere in between.
What Nelson and his agent, Vann McElroy, will have to figure out is how much Nelson wants to push the envelope after being a bargain for Green Bay for the past few seasons.
The Packers reportedly offered lucrative long-term contracts to Jennings and B.J. Raji. Jennings waited to hit the market and signed with Minnesota; Raji waited to hit the market and had to settle for a one-year deal when he failed to play to expectations.
"You've got to live with your decision," Nelson said if there were lessons to be drawn from their decisions. "You've got to be happy, no matter how it turns out. Each person is different in this locker room and they know the choices they have and the decisions they made. Good or bad, they've got to deal with them. My wife and I, three years ago or whatever it was when we signed our extension, we were happy with what we got. We knew it'd be great for us. We wanted to be here. We'll see how this one goes, as well. They know everything about me, they know we don't want to leave, so I'm not worried about saying it. You just want to make sure you get it done."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.