Rich CiminiESPN staff writerRead for 4 minutes
FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Wide receiver Allen Lazard said he signed with the New York Jets because of the city’s “bright lights” and a strong affinity for his new offensive coordinator. Then, of course, there’s the life-changing money. And something else.
“Obviously it feels good to be standing here today knowing that 12 is going to be my quarterback again,” Lazard said during a Zoom call with reporters on Friday.
Lazard spoke of former Green Bay Packers teammate Aaron Rodgers as if their reunion is a foregone conclusion. Not quite, as the Jets and Packers are negotiating trade compensation and a restructured contract. On Wednesday, Rodgers said his “intention” is to play for the Jets in 2023. A trade is expected to take place, although nothing is imminent.
After five seasons with the Packers, the 27-year-old Lazard signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Jets. He said he recently spoke with Rodgers at a Los Angeles fitness center where they both train off-season. Lazard indicated that his decision to play for the Jets was not dependent on Rodgers’ decision.
“As a wide receiver, the best relationship you can have is with the quarterback and the relationship I have with him has been phenomenal,” said Lazard. “Of course there is a tendency for him to come here, but … after the season, after the last game, in the dressing room, I said that I have to worry about myself and take care of what is best for me and that can I.” don’t worry about other people.
“Me and my decision to come here was purely based on that and to make sure I’m doing what’s best for my career. Obviously he’s here, it definitely helps the whole organization to be able to take that next step to make a deep impression.” playoff run and win that Lombardi Trophy.”
Lazard’s choice will make Rodgers happy.
During talks with the Jets last week, he gave a glowing recommendation of Lazard, who set career highs last season with 60 receptions and 788 yards. Speaking Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said, “I think, objectively, a lot of people can look at Allen Lazard and say, ‘He’s a really good player. We’d love to have him on our team.’ “
The Jets now have four, maybe five starting caliber receivers in Lazard, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims. Davis, who has an $11.2 million cap, could be expendable.
Assuming Rodgers is the quarterback, Lazard likes the Jets’ chances in the AFC. When asked about the team’s ceiling, he said, “With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the possibility of wins is always a thing. That being said, it really is the Super Bowl.”
Lazard has come a long way since being pulled from Iowa State, cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and even cut by the Packers. He eventually settled in, with some help from Rodgers.
“He really put his arm around me and he’s a big reason why I’m here today,” he said. “I can’t deny that. He was on a table in front of me during training camp, when I probably didn’t deserve to be on the roster — at least in the eyes of the front office. He called me into the game to be, he relied on me and in a lot of tough situations and always believed in me.”
Lazard also credited offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who served in the same capacity for the Packers from 2019 to 2021. Hackett was also on the staff of the Jaguars during Lazard’s time there.
“He’s the best teacher I’ve had in my life,” Lazard said. “And that goes from school to football.”