Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard is schedule to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The former Iowa State is coming off a season that saw him set new career highs with 60 catches and 788 yards while catching six touchdowns.

At the end of the season finale, Lazard made it clear he believed he had played his last game in a Packers uniform.

After the Packers season finale, Lazard said, “Going into the game, I kind of had a realization that my first game here and potentially my last game, which it is, was going to be against the Lions at home.”

The 27-year-old, five-year NFL veteran may hit the open market this offseason, but the GM Brian Gutekunst should strongly consider trying to bring Lazard back.

Lazard has been a great story. He went undrafted out of Iowa State in 2018 and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was waived and placed on the practice squad when the Packers signed him on December 18.

Lazard made his NFL debut in the 2018 season finale and caught one pass for seven yards to get his feet wet. He returned to the Packers in 2019 and saw little action early in the season before having a breakout game against Detroit. He caught 35 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns.

Injuries limited Lazard to 10 games in 2020 but when he was healthy, he took on a bigger role in the offense. In 2021, he played 15 games and set new career highs with 40 catches and eight touchdown catches.

When the Packers lost Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling a year ago, that made Lazard the top returning receiver. He was expected to be the team’s number one wideout when the 2022 campaign got under way. He responded with a new career high with 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns despite missing two games due to injury.

Lazard is a hard working receiver who does the little things right. He has good hands and runs precise routes. He is also one of the better blocking receivers in the league. His blocking ability helps the team in both the running game and on short passes where Lazard can use his 6’5”, 227-pound frame to free up fellow receivers for big gains.

What Lazard lacks is the speed to be a true number one receiver. But his size, work ethic and skill set make him a desirable addition to any team as a WR2 or WR3.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has high praise for Lazard. In late December, the future hall of famer had this to say about the receiver:

“That’s what got him on the field a bunch when he was a third and fourth guy, and that’s what keeps him on the field and makes us love him so much. Because he gives up his body like that, consistently,” Rodgers said. “You want your best players to be your best people, and Allen definitely is one of our best people—and he proves it week after week by doing things like that.”

Rodgers mentioned Lazard as one of the players he wants back if he returns to the Packers in 2023 along with Marcedes Lewis, Mason Crosby, Randall Cobb and a few others.

Lazard is reliable as a receiver and often comes up big on third downs. Last year, 45 of his 60 receptions resulted in a first down for the Packers. He’s a guy who does all the little things right and leads by example on the field and in the locker room.

The issue for the Packers remains the salary cap. GM Brian Gutekunst will have to restructure several veteran contracts to get the Packers under the cap regardless of what the team decides to do about Rodgers and Jordan Love.

Lazard is likely to earn a lot more money if he hits the free agent market. projects his value at $11 million per year. That is significantly more than the Packers are looking to spend for a player who will be their second or third receiver and slightly higher than what Valdes-Scantling got last year when he signed with the Chiefs as a free agent.

In the long run, the Packers should try to re-sign Lazard who is the type of player that you don’t fully appreciate until he’s no  longer in your lineup. Unfortunately, unless Lazard finds the market for his services limited, he will likely sign elsewhere because other teams will offer him more money than the Packers are willing to pay or able to afford.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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