Except he does not see it that way.
At the time, he was a 26-year-old receiver whose best season was 45 catches for 582 yards and two touchdowns.
What happened over the next three years turned the deal into a bargain for the Packers. Nelson went over 1,000 yards in both 2011 and 2013 and would have done so in 2012 had injuries not kept him out of four games.
In the last three seasons, only three other NFL receivers -- Dallas' Dez Bryant, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Denver's Eric Decker -- have more touchdown catches than Nelson (30). He's 12th in yards (3,322) and sixth in yards per catch (16.45) among all receivers during that same stretch.
Under his current contract, which averages $4.2 million per season, Nelson ranks 34th in pay among all NFL receivers, which makes it look like he left money on the table the last time around.
"When I signed it, I don't think I did," Nelson said Tuesday. "I think everyone when I signed thought it was a good deal. No one would have known I'd have 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns [in 2011]. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 but, again, I'm not worried about that at all. I've been comfortable with my decision.
"I've talked to other guys who've given me a hard time about it and they've been in the same situation of getting re-done with a year left and like, what to do. You've just got to live with your decision, one way or the other. You sign it, you've got to be happy. If you outplay it, you've got to deal with it. If you don't sign it and you get hurt, you've got to deal with that."
Financials aside, Nelson's last contract put him in a difficult spot age-wise for his next deal. Last week, he turned 29 -- an age at which Packers general manager Ted Thompson has been known to let receivers walk away. James Jones turned 30 just weeks after the Packers let him leave in free agency this offseason, and Greg Jennings was 29 when he left the Packers for the Minnesota Vikings the previous offseason.
Nelson, however, argues his last contract put him in prime position for another big deal.
"I heard the other day, a doctor told me that 28 to 32 is the prime age for a male athlete," Nelson said. "I was actually surprised by that."
"On my end, if you do outplay it right away, you'll be right back up there in two, two-and-a-half, three years," Nelson added. "Even on the organization's side, it allows them to sign someone. ... Maybe they don't quite have a full grasp of what they're going to be like so we'll give him three years and maybe we can figure out more about him. Yeah, I think it was great on both sides, and I look forward to talking to them again."
Nelson said Tuesday he believes those talks will heat up soon.
However, the Packers might be more inclined to do a deal with fellow receiver Randall Cobb first. Cobb, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, is just 23 years old.
For his part, Nelson is doing everything he can to stay young. He says he weighed in Tuesday at 210 pounds -- seven pounds below his listed playing weight. But he insisted that has nothing to do with him being in a contract year.
"They know everything about me," Nelson said. "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."