The New York Jets know their end goal of the off-season – convince quarterback Aaron Rodgers that he wants to continue his career with them. As the Green Bay Packers have made it clear they are prepared to move on, Rodgers has two options. Retire or become a Jet. With that in mind, the Jets have begun to inquire about players from Rodgers’ teammate wish list, specifically at wide receiver.
As a matter of fact, about 24 hours before free agency officially begins, the first wish list domino has fallen. The Jets will sign wideout Allen Lazard to a four-year deal, paying $44 million and $22 million included in guarantees. As Lazard is the first new face in the receiving corps, he certainly won’t be the last as the Jets wide receiver shuffle is well underway.
New York Jets Add Allen Lazard as Wide Receiver Shuffle Begins
The Fallout of the Allen Lazard Signing
With Allen Lazard coming to town, it likely signals the end for Corey Davis with the Jets. After signing a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with the Jets in 2021, he has only played in 22 of 34 games. Durability has been an issue his whole career, and Davis was a known potential cap casualty coming into the off-season.
Now 28 years old, Davis will easily find a home elsewhere. In his 22 games with the Jets, Davis caught 66 of 123 targets for six touchdowns and 1,028 receiving yards. As he proved early in his career with the Tennessee Titans, the Western Michigan product is a good starter… if playing at full strength. Unfortunately, he did so sparingly with the Jets and as a result, the contract did not live up to expectations. It is only a matter of time until New York releases or even trades Davis.
Current Receiving Corps Construction
Essentially, the Jets are swapping out Davis for Lazard. At 6’5″ and 227 pounds, Lazard’s size is something the Jets have not had in a wideout since Brandon Marshall from 2015-2016. Over the past two seasons, Lazard has had 100 receptions (160 targets) for 1,301 yards and 14 touchdowns. In other words, Lazard gives the Jets a big-bodied receiver capable of helping them with their red zone woes.
In the Jets offense, Lazard will not need to be the number one target like he was a year ago in Green Bay. That is the job of 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Garrett Wilson. With all the quarterback changes the Jets endured, Wilson went on to catch 83 passes for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns. As he is going to draw attention from defenses first because of his explosiveness, it will open plenty of one-on-one opportunities along the sideline for Lazard to win with his size.
Wilson and Lazard will be the one-two punch at receiver for the Jets next season, with Elijah Moore being the next guy up. After a chaotic 2022 campaign, Moore looks to bounce back with new Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Ole Miss product has two years left on his rookie deal, and he is simply too talented to give up yet.
Gang Green also has receivers Diontae Spencer, Malik Taylor, and Irvin Charles already on the books for 2023. Then, there is the interesting case of Denzel Mims to consider.
The Denzel Mims Case
In 2023, Denzel Mims will turn 26 years old in the final year of his rookie contract. After following out with the previous coaching staff, there appeared to be new hope for him with Hackett coming to town. At the same time, New York can save well over $1 million with his release, as they prepare to shuffle more at wide receiver. Then again, perhaps the Jets hope to acquire a late-round draft pick as some sort of compensation.
After all, Mims is a former second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft. At 6’3″ and 207 pounds, he fits the profile of a starting boundary receiver. Mims is also a ridiculous athlete, having run a 4.38 40-yard dash time at the combine.
More Wide Receiver Additions Coming
As previously mentioned, if the Jets continue down the path of the Aaron Rodgers wish list, there are more weapons to bring in. In addition to Lazard at receiver, Rodgers is interested in playing with longtime teammate Randall Cobb, as well as Odell Beckham Jr.
For the Jets, signing Randall Cobb makes even more sense with Braxton Berrios being cut as a cap casualty. At 32 years old, Cobb still offers a security blanket from the slot. Not to mention, having spent 10 of his 12 professional seasons in Green Bay, he is more than familiar with Rodgers. And although he has not been a primary punt return specialist in years, he does have experience there. So in a way, like Lazard replacing Davis, Cobb would be Berrios’ successor.
With Odell Beckham Jr. seeking $15 to $20 million annually on a new contract, he may be out of the Jets price range. The 30-year-old receiver has also not played in a game since Super Bowl LVI during the 2021 season. Nevertheless, with his off-the-field relationship with Rodgers, never say never.
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