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From Coveted Free Agent to Financial Albatross

Allen Lazard can fall behind on the depth chart after the New York Jets wide receiver additions this off-season.
Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, New York Jets wide receivers

Entering the 2023 season, the New York Jets made a show during the off-season. After going 7-10, the organization wanted to make a major push from rebuild to playoff contender. Entering the year amidst an eleven-season playoff drought, Joe Douglas made some major additions on offense. While he was the biggest name arriving, Aaron Rodgers wasn’t the only Packer heading to East Rutherford. Allen Lazard was one of the most coveted targets in free agency before signing with New York. A year into the move, expectations thus far have not been met. While Rodgers injury is a factor, Allen Lazard couldn’t replicate that same production witnessed in 2022. After getting benched late in the season and the additions to the wide receiver room this year, the veteran might be on the outside looking in.

Allen Lazard is unlikely to be a cap casualty this season. His dead cap is worth $18 million this year if he’s released this year. The New York Jets can’t afford to inflate their already astronomical dead cap hit of $52 million. But the writing is on the wall for the receiver’s future unless he regains form quickly.

From Coveted Free Agent to Financial Albatross

Entering his seventh season in the league and his second season in New York, Allen Lazard is looking to recapture that spark that made him a commodity in Green Bay next to Davante Adams. The veteran receiver worked his way from an undrafted free agent in 2018 and turned into a preferred target for Aaron Rodgers in the twilight of his Packers tenure. He worked up the depth chart and put together a career year during the pandemic. Lazard finished the 2020 season with 513 yards on 40 receptions, including a career-high eight touchdowns. He followed that with a career-high 788 receiving yards on 60 catches in 2021.

With his connection to Rodgers, as well as his 6’5″ and 220 lbs frame being useful in run blocking, Joe Douglas wanted this man in East Rutherford. New York signed Lazard to a four-year contract worth $44 million on St.Patrick’s Day 2023. The first season did not go as planned.

Allen Lazard’s 2023 season

It’s no secret New York was up a creek without a paddle after Aaron tore his Achilles. An unfortunate injury to one of the game’s greats. Nevertheless, the season doesn’t stop for one injury. The absence of Rodgers was a detriment to the offense. None suffered more than Allen Lazard. The veteran receiver was never able to click with Zach Wilson. Routinely failed to convert on drives due to Wilson’s play and an evergrowing dropped pass problem for Lazard. He finished the season with one of the worst dropped pass rates in the league at 20%. Lazard was even benched during the team’s Black Friday loss to Miami in Tim Boyle’s season debut. Lazard’s first season in New York resulted in 23 catches for 311 yards and one touchdown.


Competition in the wide receiver room

Entering this season with new additions to the offensive line and a healthy Aaron Rodgers, the Jets offense looks to flip the script compared to 2023. There are no guarantees Lazard will have the same opportunities as before. Along with addressing the offensive line, Joe Douglas made some major additions to the wide receiver room. Former top 10 draft pick Mike Williams signed a one-year contract. The former Los Angeles Charger suffered a torn ACL in his final season in LA but is projected to be behind only Garrett Wilson in targets once healthy. Along with Williams, third-round draft pick Malachi Corley will be heavily featured as well. Corley has been praised by analysts like Steve Smith as the most sought-after player in the wide receiver class. His yards-after-catch stats showcase the potential to impact an offense like Deebo Samuel in San Francisco.

Lazard won’t only face competition from these new additions as well. Xavier Gipson displayed great potential during the Chiefs loss last season. His role can grow as New York evolves into a more dynamic offense. Breece Hall’s contributions can’t be ignored either. The third-year running back was an asset in the passing game last year. Hall brought in 76 passes for 591 yards last year after less than a year to recover from a torn ACL. Now fully healthy, he’s going to be featured more heavily as well. Whether he likes it or not, Allen Lazard has a lot to prove to the organization if he wants a long-term future here.

Main Photo: [Vincent Carchietta] – USA Today Sports


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