Rival Playmaker Dubbed Top Free Agent Target for Bears

Bears FA Target Lazard

Getty The Bears could target rival playmaker Allen Lazard in free agency to give Justin Fields another weapon for 2023.

The Chicago Bears might not have the most star-studded class of free agent wide receivers to choose from in the 2023 offseason, but there is one veteran option set to hit the market who has familiarity with Luke Getsy’s offense and could provide a much-needed influx of depth: Green Bay’s Allen Lazard.

Bleacher Report’s Jack Rill recently suggested the Bears should have Lazard at the top of their list if they head into 2023 free agency looking to sign an experienced receiver. The fifth-year pass-catcher is due to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in mid-March and has an unclear future with the Packers, who have several other bigger questions to answer before considering an extension for Lazard.

Should Green Bay pass, Chicago could swoop in with the promise of a familiar offensive system to play in and a well-deserved pay bump from his $3.986 million salary in 2022.

“While Lazard likely wouldn’t emerge as a No. 1 receiver for Chicago, the 27-year-old could be a solid second or third option for Fields to throw the ball to,” Rill wrote in his January 23 article. “The Bears should likely take a top wide receiver in the draft, but it would also help them to bring in a player like Lazard to add depth at the position, which is currently a weakness for the team.”

Lazard Has Skills to Boost Both Passing & Rushing Offense

Lazard has certainly shown growth over his time with the Packers. After going undrafted in 2018, he spent most of his rookie season on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad before the Packers signed him to their active roster late in the year. Since then, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound receiver has fought to earn his keep and developed into a steady contributor with 100 receptions for 1,301 yards and 14 touchdowns over the past two seasons as one of the preferred passing targets for four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.

What tends to get lost in conversations about Lazard’s value, though, is his blocking ability. Not only is he a physical pass-catcher who can muscle his way to contested catches for his quarterback, but he is also a fearless downfield blocker who is more than willing to put his body on the line to help his fellow teammates break off big plays — like when he blocked three Miami Dolphins at once to spring an Aaron Jones run.

Signing Lazard Would Give Bears an Affordable Safety Net

Thanks to their contract-shedding efforts last year, the Bears have put themselves in a situation where they have more salary-cap space than any other team in the NFL heading into the 2023 offseason. They have a wealth of resources that will allow them to be aggressive in their pursuit of top-dollar free agents and can choose to overpay for certain players if they feel they can be difference-makers for their football team.

That said, Lazard isn’t a break-the-bank type of free agent.

According to Spotrac’s calculated market value, Lazard is projected to command an average annual salary of about $11 million on his next NFL contract. He is most likely looking to get paid somewhere in the range of Nelson Agholor ($22 million over two years) or Corey Davis ($37.5 million over three years), taking advantage of the limited options on the free agent market to get his desired price tag from his next team. Either way, the Bears wouldn’t have much trouble adding a figure like that to their books and would also be buying themselves time to develop younger talent at the position.

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