FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Wide receiver Allen Lazard said he signed with the New York Jets because of the “bright lights” of the city and a strong affinity for his new offensive coordinator. Then, of course, there’s the life-changing money. And one other thing, too.
“Obviously, standing here today, it feels good knowing that 12’s going to be my quarterback again,” Lazard said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters.
Lazard spoke of former Green Bay Packers teammate Aaron Rodgers as if their reunion is a done deal. 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 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 talked recently with Rodgers at a fitness facility in Los Angeles, where they both train in the offseason. Lazard indicated his decision to play for the Jets wasn’t contingent upon Rodgers deciding the same.
“As a wide receiver, the best relationship you can have is with the quarterback and the relationship I have with him has been phenomenal,” Lazard said. “Obviously, there’s an inclination that he’s coming here, but … after the season, after the last game, in the locker room, I mentioned how I have to worry about myself and take care of what’s best for me and I can’t worry about other people.
“Me and my decision coming here was purely based off that and making sure that I’m doing what’s best for my career. Obviously, him being here, it definitely helps the entire organization to be able to take that next step, make a deep playoff run and go win that Lombardi Trophy.”
Lazard’s choice will make Rodgers happy.
During discussions last week with the Jets, 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 go, ‘He’s a really good player. We would love to have him on our team.'”
The Jets now have four, perhaps 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 possibility of wins is always a thing. With that being said, it’s really the Super Bowl.”
Lazard has come a long way from being undrafted out of Iowa State, getting cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars and even getting cut by the Packers. He eventually established himself, 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 stood up on a table for me during training camp when I probably didn’t deserve to make the roster — at least in the front office’s eyes. He called for me to be in the game he relied on me and in a lot of heavy-pressure situations and always believed in me.”
Lazard also credited offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who served in the same position for the Packers from 2019 to 2021. Hackett also was on the Jaguars’ staff 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.”