The New York Jets haven’t received the praise they were hoping for following the first wave of free agency.
Lazard was featured in Ballentine’s column dedicated to players that “won’t live up to their new contracts” in 2023 and beyond.
“Lazard should be judged based on what he brings to the team in a vacuum. Viewed through that lens, it’s going to be difficult for him to exceed the value of his contract.”
Evaluating the Allen Lazard-Jets Contract
Ballentine did praise the former Iowa State product for his blocking prowess and “massive size” at the position (listed at 6-foot-5 and weighs 227 pounds).
However, he said the talented wideout “doesn’t provide as much upside as you’d think, even as a No. 2 target.”
Two of the things Ballentine pointed out were Lazard’s inability to separate as a receiver and his inconsistency at winning at the catch point.
“According to Player Profiler, Lazard was 98th in route win rate at just 30.7 percent. He was also 34th in contested catch rate, coming down with 47.4 percent of those targets.”
Those are some fair points and if you want there are more things you can pick apart about Lazard.
He has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL and the highest yardage total he has ever had is 788.
Despite that Lazard is now the No. 25 highest-paid wide receiver in football, per Over The Cap.
Looking Beyond the Contract Numbers to Find Value in Allen Lazard Jets Signing
The contract looks large at a $44 million evaluation and averaging $11 million per season, but that isn’t the true deal.
As always you have to explore the guarantees in a deal to understand its true value. Lazard had $22 million of the $44 million guaranteed at signing.
Honestly, the real contract is a two-year deal for $22 million and then the Jets can reevaluate things heading into 2025.
When you look at it through that lens it doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad.
Additionally, the elephant in the room is Lazard’s obvious connection to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
If the Lazard addition in any way helps land A-Rod then it was totally worth it for the Jets. He was featured on Rodgers’ wish list that went viral during free agency as a player he’d like to play with.
One of the other criticisms by Ballentine in his column for Bleacher Report was Rodgers potentially not being the Jets quarterback “by the time” Lazard’s four-year contract expires.
As we discussed Lazard might not even be here by the time that deal wraps up. Secondly, Lazard also has a clear connection to the Jets’ new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Lazard during his media availability said Hackett is the best teacher he has ever been around and is a big reason he came to New York.
That factoid is great news for Lazard but also the rest of the Jets receiving room. The 27-year-old knows the system and can share that knowledge with some of the younger players on the roster like Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson.
That would’ve been valuable whether or not Rodgers was coming and with him expected to join the team at some point this offseason, it’ll be a nice added bonus.