After a disappointing 2022 season, the New York Jets felt that their best chance to improve in 2023 would be to acquire a bunch of former Green Bay Packers players. Of course, the most noteworthy of these is future Hall of Fame quarterback and four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. Even before trading for Rodgers, though, the Jets started compiling some of his favorite people from his time in Green Bay.
Among two of New York’s first offseason moves were the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator and the signing of wide receiver Allen Lazard to a four-year $44 million contract (with $22 million guaranteed). After the Rodgers trade was completed, the Jets also added Randall Cobb, Billy Turner, Tim Boyle, and Adrian Amos.
To say that the 2023 season has not gone the way they expected it to would be an understatement. Rodgers tore his Achilles four snaps into the season, Cobb has been off the field more than he has been on it, and Amos was just cut by the team.
As if all of that were not bad enough, Lazard, who was supposed to be the Jets’ number-two wide receiver alongside Garret Wilson has woefully underperformed. In fact, his play has been so bad that he was a healthy scratch for New York’s most recent game, a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Allen Lazard Is Having an Awful Season with the New York Jets
If Packers fans were disappointed in the production (or lack there of) that Lazard had as the supposed number-one wide receiver in Green Bay, they can only imagine how disappointed Jets fans are with his production as the supposed second option.
Last season, as the “go-to” wide receiver, Lazard had 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns. Those weren’t terrible numbers by any means, but certainly not what one might expect from a number one wide receiver, especially since Lazard was supposed to fill the roll left empty by the trade of Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Those numbers, though, would have been great for any team’s number two option, which is what the Jets thought they were paying for when they signed him for $11 million per year for four years.
New York Jets Insider Names Former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Allen Lazard as Possible the Worst Free Agent Signing Ever
The problem, though, is that with Rodgers at quarterback, Lazard has not looked good at all. In 10 games this season, he has 20 receptions for 290 yards and a single touchdown. He has yet to have more than three receptions in any game this season. Last year, he had just four games in which he did not catch at least four passes.
Lazard’s inability to produce without Rodgers as his quarterback has led Zack Rosenballt, who covers the Jets for The Athletic, to label him as possibly the worst free agent signing in team history:
“Lazard has not lived up to the contract he signed this offseason, the richest of any free-agent wide receiver. In fact, at this rate, Lazard could go down as one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history, on par with the likes of cornerback Trumaine Johnson.”
Lazard is a high-character person, so it is tough to see him in this kind of situation. However, that is the nature of the New York media, and is part of what he signed up for when he chose the Jets in free agency.
New York guaranteed Lazard $22 million at the time of his signing. Next year, he carries a $12 million cap hit, but an $18 million dead cap hit (according to Spotrac). In other words, the Jets would lose cap space by cutting him before the end of the 2024 season.
In his article, Rosenblatt questions whether or not Lazard will get the chance to show he can improve with Rodgers as his quarterback. He wonders if New York will even keep him on.
Packers fans know that Rodgers carries a lot of weight in a front office, perhaps more than he should. If he wants Lazard, he’s going to have Lazard.
Additionally, it would be malpractice to cost one’s team $6 million by cutting a player, even a struggling one.
But it is the Jets. They’re always going to Jet.