Former Packers WR Lazard signs 4-year deal with Jets
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
Allen Lazard enjoyed everything about New York when he visited for the first time a few months ago.
Now, it will be home for the Jets’ newest wide receiver. And he’ll be reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett– and perhaps soon quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Lazard signed a four-year contract with the Jets on Friday, a deal worth $44 million and includes $22 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.
“For me, I just wanted to get to a big city,” Lazard, who is from Iowa, said during a Zoom call. “I wanted to get to a spot that especially has just a melting pot of culture and just be able to get that experience. You know, the bright lights, New York City.”
The Big Apple spotlight might soon shine on Rodgers, Lazard’s former Packers teammate, who said on “The Pat McAfee Show” this week that he intends to play for New York this year after 18 seasons in Green Bay. The sides are still working on compensation details to try to complete a trade.
Lazard knows expectations will rise enormously if Rodgers lands with the Jets, a franchise that hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1969 and has the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 12 seasons.
“Him being here definitely helps the entire organization be able to take that next step that they need to to make a deep playoff run and go win that Lombardi trophy,” Lazard said.
The 27-year-old wide receiver said Rodgers’ decision wasn’t necessarily a determining factor on where he’d sign as a free agent, but “it definitely helps.”
Lazard said coach Robert Saleh’s presence also was a factor, but he raved about Hackett, who worked with the receiver in the same role as offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2019-21.
“He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had in my life,” Lazard said. “And I go from school to football, he just makes learning fun. … He makes it really easy and he allows you to go out there and just play fast and not think. Because of that is why I’ve had a lot of success these past few years.”
Lazard tweeted Thursday night that he and Hackett were at dinner together, hinting the signing was imminent.
On Wednesday, he posted on Twitter a farewell to the Packers and their fans: “It’s been an honor to represent the ‘G’ and to rock the green and gold with each and every one of you.”
The 6-foot-5 Lazard, regarded as a terrific blocker as a receiver, is coming off his best NFL season. He had personal highs of 60 catches and 788 yards receiving to go along with six touchdowns; in 2021, he had a career-best eight TD receptions.
“I think objectively, a lot of people can look at Allen Lazard and go, he’s a really good player, we would love to have him on our team,” Rodgers said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “Anybody would be lucky to have him in the locker room.”
Lazard was signed by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State in 2018 and was signed by Green Bay off the Jaguars’ practice squad that season.
“I still feel undrafted,” Lazard said with a smile, “because the checks haven’t hit yet.”
After starting just 12 games in his first three seasons, Lazard moved into a starting role and developed a strong rapport with Rodgers while starting 28 games the last two years. In five NFL seasons, Lazard has 169 career receptions for 2,236 yards and 20 TDs.
“During my time with Aaron in Green Bay, he really put his arm around me and he’s a big reason for why I’m here today,” Lazard said of his NFL career. “I can’t deny that. … He’s relied on me in a lot of heavy-pressure situations and always believed in me.”