For weeks most members of Green Bay Packers nation have believed the team’s wide receiver corps was signed, sealed and delivered — with remaining potential to add more talent via trade or free agency. As it turns out, that assumption was inaccurate.
The Packers on March 15 offered wideout Allen Lazard a second-round tender worth $3.98 million for the 2022 season, which will technically be his fifth in the league. It was assumed Lazard would sign the deal without incident or meaningful delay, as the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiated between the NFL and its players union dictate that the receiver can not openly negotiate with other franchises this offseason.
However, as of Saturday, nearly two and a half months since it was offered, Lazard had yet to sign the contract. The reason for that decision is presumably that he would like a more sizable deal spanning more than a single season. However, neither Lazard nor the Packers front office has yet commented publicly on the situation.
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Circumstances in Packers’ WR Room May Afford Lazard Leverage
Because of the structure of the NFL’s rules, Lazard has essentially zero bargaining chips. Perhaps his one area of leverage is that Green Bay lacks top-end talent as well as experience at the position.
The only other two players on the roster with a legitimate track record in the NFL are veteran Randall Cobb and the newly-signed Sammy Watkins, most recently of the Baltimore Ravens. Cobb joins Lazard as one of only two Packers pass catchers who have spent significant time on the receiving end of footballs delivered by reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay added Christian Watson out of North Dakota State University with the No. 34 overall pick in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft, with eyes toward potentially turning him into Rodgers’ top target. However, the Packers’ long-time starter under center has a long-standing reputation of impatience with young receivers learning on the job.
Considering all of these factors, Lazard may be able to nudge the front office toward a long-term contract in the interest of keeping happy the team’s quarterback, with whom Green Bay just negotiated a three-year extension worth more than $150 million in total.
Furthermore, the Packers have extra incentive to appease Rodgers after trading away his favorite target, All-Pro Davante Adams, to the Las Vegas Raiders, and letting Marquez Valdes-Scantling slip away to the Kansas City Chiefs by way of free agency.
Packers Allen Lazard Coming Off Career Year in 2022
Another piece of the equation that might bend Green Bay toward the idea of a long-term deal with Lazard is his enhanced production in 2022.
The wideout posted a career year across all major statistical categories last season, hauling in 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. He finished the year second on the team in receiving, behind only Adams, though produced those numbers as more or less the third option in the Packers’ passing game.
It could be that Lazard will ask for and/or command too much annual money if he is signed to a multiyear deal, which would likely indicate this is his last season in Green Bay. However, if the Packers believe they can re-sign him at a reasonable price, there is some logic in locking Lazard down now.
If he produces a strong season for the second consecutive year, the team would be forced to bid for Lazard’s services against other suitors in the free agency market next offseason or use up its franchise tag designation to keep him in the huddle for 2023 — neither of which is likely to prove an ideal situation for the Packers.