Rich ChiminiESPN staff writer4 minutes of reading
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 connection with his new offensive coordinator. And then, of course, there’s life-changing money. And one more thing.
“Obviously, standing here today, it feels good to know that 12 is going to be my quarterback again,” Lazard said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters.
Lazard talked about former Green Bay Packers teammate Aaron Rodgers as if their reunion was a done deal. Absolutely not, as the Jets and Packers negotiate 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 happen, though nothing is imminent.
After five seasons with the Packers, Lazard, 27, signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Jets. He said he recently spoke with Rodgers at a gym in Los Angeles, where they both train during the offseason. Lazard hinted that Rodgers wasn’t consistent in his decision to play for the Jets.
“As a wide receiver, the best relationship you can have with a quarterback and the relationship I have with him is phenomenal,” Lazard said. “Obviously, there’s an option for him to come here, but … after the season, after the last game, in the locker room, I mentioned how I have to take care of myself and take care of what’s best for me, and I can. Don’t worry about other people.
“Me and my decision is totally based on that and making sure I’m doing what’s best for my career. Obviously, having him here, it definitely helps the whole organization take the next step. Make a playoff run and win that Lombardi Trophy.”
Lazard’s selection will make Rodgers happy.
During discussions with the Jets last week, he offered a glowing recommendation of Lazart, who set career highs with 60 receptions and 788 yards last season. “I think, objectively, a lot of people look at Alan Lazard and say, ‘He’s a good player. We’d love to have him on our team,'” Rodgers said Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
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 charge, could be expendable.
Assuming Rodgers is the quarterback, Lazard likes the Jets’ chances in the AFC. Asked about the team’s ceiling, he said, “With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the chance to win is always a thing. That being said, this is really the Super Bowl.”
Lazard has come a long way from being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars to being cut by the Packers without leaving Iowa State. With some help from Rodgers, he eventually manages to establish himself.
“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 stood up on a table for me during training camp — at least from the perspective of the front office. Believed in me and always believed in me in a lot of high-pressure situations.”
Lazard also praised offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who served in the same position for the Packers from 2019 to 2021. Hackett was also on the Jaguars staff during Lazard’s time there.
“He was the best teacher I ever had in my life,” Lazard said. “It goes from school to football.”