Certainly, Jordy Nelson could have played out his existing contract and seen what the free agent market had to offer in the off-season.
But Green Bay has become home for the Packers wide receiver and his family — and now it will be for at least another three seasons.
Nelson confirmed Wednesday that he has signed a contract extension that will keep him on the team through 2014. He certainly had thought about playing out his existing contract and exploring free agency, perhaps going to a team more desperate for wide receiver help.
But he thinks the Packers will be contenders for years to come, and that's more important than going to a less talented team where he might get a few more passes thrown his way.
"I think some people are in this league to get the money, and are excited about it," Nelson said. "For myself, I love winning. I don't know why you would want to leave a team like this, an organization like this."
Besides, Nelson joked, he wasn't entirely sure his family would have been willing to move with him.
"My wife loves it here," Nelson said. "She probably would have thought about staying and [have] me go play somewhere else. Obviously you have a kid, and hopefully more in the future. As you get settled in, I mean, there's so many things, you get settled in with doctors and stuff like that. And you have a base, a family here that you kind of have to put into consideration."
And Nelson is only 26, so this might not be his last shot at a big contract.
"You want to hit as many contracts as you can," Nelson said. "Right now, it's great to have this one, but you've got to keep playing football. And hopefully there'll be another one because that means we'll be here for quite a while and hopefully having great success."
Nelson, a second-round pick out of Kansas State in 2008, began to blossom toward the end of last season. He caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
He's showing no signs of slowing down this season, with 15 catches for 292 yards and three touchdowns in four games — including a 50-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay's rout of Denver on Sunday.
"I'm getting comfortable with Aaron, Aaron's getting comfortable with me, and the coaches as well," Nelson said. "There's that trust factor that has to go along with it. I've always said it's one thing to know the playbook, but it's another to know exactly what to do. I mean, Aaron wants certain things, and we're still working on that. There's stuff today in practice that we're still discussing. We want that perfect thing."
With the Packers preparing for a Sunday night matchup at Atlanta this week, Nelson points to last year's regular-season game against the Falcons as a significant point in his career. The Packers lost, but Nelson's late game-tying touchdown was a sign that he was comfortable with the offence and Rodgers.
"It's just a comfort level of a lot less thinking about things that you don't need to think about," Nelson said. "I mean, instead of thinking about what route I have, I'm thinking about how I'm going to run the route, what Aaron wants from the film study, what we discussed. It allows you to play fast."
Although there are only so many passes to go around on Sundays, Nelson said he wants to be part of a deep, competitive group of receivers. Nelson said he was thrilled when the team re-signed free agent James Jones in the off-season, even though he felt bad that the lockout might have cost Jones opportunities to be a No. 1 receiver elsewhere.
"We were selfish in a way, we were glad he was back," Nelson said. "But we were disappointed as well that he didn't have the opportunity like a normal free agent would. We wanted everyone back. Especially after the run we went on last year, we know what we can do. The longer we can stay together as a core, and just all that time we put in with Aaron, it just continues to build. We don't have new guys coming in trying to learn everything we've already learned. It's not just the playbook, it's the fine details that you know how to run what he wants. It's great to keep the core intact, and hopefully we can be here for a long time."