Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who rebounded from a season-ending knee injury suffered in the 2015 preseason to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2016, was selected as the 2016 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Atlanta linebacker Vic Beasley, who led the NFL in sacks, was selected as the 2016 NFL Most Improved Player of the Year.
Nelson spent the entire 2015 season on injured reserve after sustaining a knee injury as he made an 8-yard catch on the Packers’ opening drive in a preseason game at Pittsburgh on August 23. He returned for the 2016 season and started all 16 games as he caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and a NFL-leading 14 touchdowns. Nelson also was fifth in the NFL in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. He tied for fourth in the NFL with five 100-yard receiving games and became only the second player in Green Bay history to have two seasons with 95 or more receptions. Nelson had a touchdown reception in 11 games, which tied for the most in a single season in club history, and his three multi-receiving TD games was tied for the most in the NFL in 2016.
Nelson is the second member of the Packers to receive Comeback Player of the Year honors, joining wide receiver Robert Brooks (1997).
In 2015 as rookie, Beasley started all 16 games and had four sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and 27 total tackles (20 solo). This season, he led the NFL with 15.5 sacks to go with 15 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 39 tackles (32 solo) on the way to PFWA All-NFL and All-NFC honors at outside linebacker. His 15.5 sacks were the second-most in a season in Falcons history, and he posted four games with two or more sacks, including 3.5 at Denver in Week 5. Beasley became the 10th player in NFL history to post at least three sacks and return a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the same game at Los Angeles in Week 14. He was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December after posting six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Beasley is the first member of the Falcons to receive Most Improved Player of the Year honors.
2016 COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
2016 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LB Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons
PFWA COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 1992 – QB Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles; 1993 – RB Marcus Allen, Kansas City Chiefs; 1994 – QB Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins; 1995 – QB Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis Colts; 1996 – RB Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1997 – WR Robert Brooks, Green Bay Packers; 1998 – QB Doug Flutie, Buffalo Bills; 1999 – DT Bryant Young, San Francisco 49ers; 2000 – DE Joe Johnson, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – RB Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers; 2002 – QB Tommy Maddox, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2003 – QB Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals; 2004 – RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo Bills; 2005 – WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers; 2006 – QB Chad Pennington, New York Jets; 2007 – WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots; 2008 – QB Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots; 2010 – QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles; 2011 – QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions; 2012 – RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings; 2013 – QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers; 2014 – TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots; 2015 – S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs; 2016 – WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers.
PFWA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 2000 – QB Jeff Garcia, San Francisco 49ers; 2001 – QB Kordell Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2002 – QB Chad Pennington, New York Jets; 2003 – QB Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals; 2004 – QB Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – DE Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants; 2006 – RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers; 2007 – QB Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns; 2008 – RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers; 2009 – WR Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys; 2010 – RB Arian Foster, Houston Texans; 2011 – WR Victor Cruz, New York Giants; 2012 – WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys; 2013 – WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears; 2014 – RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2015 – (tie) QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins and CB Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers; 2016 – LB Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons.
ABOUT THE PFWA: The Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos for ESPN.com, is the organization’s president for 2015-17, while Bleacher Report national columnist Dan Pompei is the PFWA’s first vice-president and ESPN’s Jim Trotter is the organization’s second vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.