The Packers have tendered Lazard as well as fellow wide receiver Jake Kumerow, tight end Robert Tonyan, cornerback Chandon Sullivan and defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster as exclusive rights free agents for the 2020 offseason, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. The tender keeps the five of them from seeking offers from other NFL teams and makes it likely they will all be back next season for the Packers.
Lazard finished the 2019 season as the Packers’ second-most efficient wideout opposite star Davante Adams, making 38 receptions for 513 yards and three touchdowns. He stepped into the spotlight during Week 6’s win over the Detroit Lions when he caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown to help the Packers complete a fourth-quarter comeback.
While there is room to grow in his game, Lazard represents the most promising young receiver on the Packers’ offseason roster and has already earned the favor of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who pushed for him to come into the game against the Lions. More consistent opportunities in 2020 could see him become a steady No. 2 receiver with deadly potential within the offense.
Here’s a closer look at the other four players the Packers tendered as exclusive rights free agents:
CB Chandon Sullivan, Age 23
There is certainly an argument to be made that the 23-year-old former undrafted free agent shined brighter than anyone else on this list in 2019 — even Lazard. He made an early impression in training camp last year and carved out a rotational role in the Packers’ secondary behind starters Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, finishing the season with 30 tackles, six pass deflections, a forced fumble and a crucial interception against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5’s win. Should veteran Tramon Williams depart in free agency, Sullivan would be in line to become the team’s primary backup cornerback for the 2020 season.
WR Jake Kumerow, Age 28
Another wideout who will compete for more playing time next season, Kumerow has yet to hit his stride the way other options such as Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have throughout their young Packers careers. He made just 12 catches on 21 targets across 14 games in 2019, but he also tallied eight first downs and a touchdown along with a staggering 18.3 yards per reception. An uptick in responsibility could be just the boost he needs to break out, but he will likely have to first earn his place in training camp and stand out in a crowded receiver field.
TE Robert Tonyan, Age 25
Starter Jimmy Graham is gone. Veteran free-agent Marcedes Lewis could be gone, too. That leaves just 2019 rookie Jace Sternberger and Tonyan as the team’s two tight ends for next season. They could still add another body in free agency or the draft, but Tonyan’s role could be critical either way for a position that hasn’t delivered much in recent seasons. The Packers must not be concerned with his recovery timeline, either, after he recently underwent core muscle surgery last month. His agent cited the injury as a reason for his diminished production, which saw him tally 100 receiving yards in 11 games but only gain 34 yards in his final six performances with no catches in the playoffs.
DT Tyler Lancaster, 25
The Packers need depth along their defensive line to help starter Kenny Clark, so bringing back Lancaster is an inexpensive way to ensure someone familiar with the system remains in place. To his credit, Lancaster produced 30 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits along with a crucial forced-and-recovered fumble that helped ensure the Packers’ prime-time win over the Kansas City Chiefs. But he will be needed to take a much bigger step forward if he wants to lock down a long-term future with the Packers — or even just a future beyond next season.
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