$44 Million Jets Veteran Struggling, Destined for Bench Role

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh answering questions at his media availability.

A New York Jets veteran isn’t living up to his price tag.

Allen Lazard, who signed a $44 million contract in free agency last offseason, has struggled at practice.

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic said there, “hasn’t been evidence yet of a resurgence for Lazard with Aaron Rodgers back.” He had a “rough day” at OTAs on Wednesday, May 29 with multiple dropped passes.

“All told, Rodgers was 1 of 5 when targeting Lazard in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills — and 8 for 10 when targeting anyone else,” Rosenblatt explained.

Lazard endured a career-worst season with the Jets in 2023. He struggled to produce and was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions. A lot of that fell on his own shoulders, however, there was also a thought that Lazard struggled because of the inconsistent quarterback play.

Lazard came to New York to play with Rodgers, not Zach Wilson.

Despite Rodgers being back, Lazard appears to be in the same funk as last year.

Lazard Could Be the Most Expensive Backup in the NFL

The Jets have no choice, Lazard is going to be here in 2024. He has a $10 million guarantee coming to him this season. Plus if New York decided to cut ties they’d eat a $18.7 million dead cap hit.

Just because he has to be on the Jets roster, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a significant role. As a matter of fact, Rosenblatt emphatically said he will be a “backup” in 2024.

“There isn’t an obvious path to the active roster since he doesn’t play on special teams, which both Irv Charles and Jason Brownlee, his chief competition for reps, do,” Rosenblatt said.

Rosenblatt explained on “The Can’t-Wait Podcast” that “Because of the receivers that they [the Jets] have and the fact that he doesn’t play on special teams, like there’s a legit chance that he’s [Lazard] a healthy scratch every week as long as Mike Williams is healthy.”

The Jets’ Last Hope for Lazard

Lazard has already proven to be one of the worst free agent busts in Jets franchise history. The last glimmering hope was the return of Rodgers in 2024.

That was a chance to not completely salvage but at least help provide some value to the Jets considering its financial investment.

A-Rod is Lazard’s former teammate and they had chemistry with the Green Bay Packers. With how poorly Lazard performed in 2023, it’s hard to imagine anything he could provide in 2024 being any worse.

That was a small modicum of optimism that Lazard could provide something for the green and white. However, his true value will be as Williams’ injury insurance.

Rosenblatt said on the podcast that Lazard is the “top backup” to Williams as an outside receiver for the Jets. The veteran wideout is recovering from a torn ACL and head coach Robert Saleh refused to put a timeline on his return except to say he wouldn’t be ready for the start of training camp.

That should provide Lazard with plenty of opportunities over the coming months to prove he should be a part of the Jets’ offense in 2024.

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