Packers Make Key Decision on Allen Lazard’s Future

Lazard RFA Tender

Getty Allen Lazard #13 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 09, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

With Aaron Rodgers now officially signed to a new contract, the Green Bay Packers are taking steps to lock up some of his receiving weapons.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Packers are placing a second-round tender on restricted free agent Allen Lazard and will retain the fifth-year wide receiver on a one-year deal worth about $3.98 million. He caught 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns last season — all career-high marks — and finished as Green Bay’s second-leading receiver behind Davante Adams.

With Lazard tendered, the Packers’ receiving picture is starting to come together for the 2022 season. Davante Adams is coming back on a $20.12 million franchise tag, while Amari Rodgers and Randall Cobb are still under contract for next season. They are also expected to lose Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and Malik Taylor in free agency this offseason, but their departures could open the door for Lazard to truly embrace a No. 2 receiver role next season.

The Packers will add the cost of Lazard’s tender ($3.986 million) to their current salary-cap picture, putting them at a little less than $8 million over the cap for 2022. They will have to get under before the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 16.

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Will Packers Restructure Lazard’s Deal?

Once Lazard signs his tender, he will be locked in for his fourth full season in Green Bay, but the Packers don’t necessarily have to stay married to his $3.986 million cap hit for next season if they take a similar approach to last year’s restricted free agents.

The Packers tendered two restricted free agents in 2021 — Robert Tonyan (second-round tender) and Chandon Sullivan (minimum tender) — and later restructured both of their contracts to create more immediate cap space. The approach in restructuring was pretty simple in both cases: The Packers added four void years onto each player’s deal and converted some of their earnings into a signing bonus that could be prorated over five seasons, including the one they were actually scheduled to play.

The benefit was Tonyan and Sullivan had reduced cap hits for 2021, but the tradeoff was having roughly $2.849 million in bonus money pushed onto the cap in 2022 when their contracts voided back in February.

The Packers could try the same method with Lazard in 2022, but there might be more value in attempting to negotiate a longer-term deal with him. After all, Adams isn’t a sure thing to return beyond the 2022 season — barring a long-term extension — and Lazard could be poised for a big upcoming season that would raise his market value for 2023 free agency. If the Packers believe in his long-term potential, it could be wise to lock him down on an affordable two- or three-year deal.

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