While the Green Bay Packers anticipate a major decision on the horizon, the team will soon have to make another one regarding one more critical piece to the offense. The Packers are expected to be a top team facing some major changes once free agency opens on March 15 and wide receiver Allen Lazard will be an important player to consider bringing back.
Losing Lazard in free agency seemed like a foregone conclusion following the last game of the season against the Detroit Lions. After the game, Lazard had a stunning quote saying that he “had a realization that [his] first game here and potentially [his] last game, which it is, was going to be against the Lions at home.”
The comments became an eye-opening reality for Packers fans pointing toward Lazard’s departure this off-season especially after considering what many viewed as an underperforming season coupled with off-season contract disputes last year. However, Wednesday’s most recent comments on SiriusXM NFL Radio might point towards some signs that the 27-year-old could return next season.
“I’ve been very spoiled the past four or five years to be in the Packers organization,” Lazard said. “I think they’re obviously a first-class organization just how they go about their relationship with the fans, how they treat the players. Just the whole experience there.”
These new statements certainly feel like Lazard is expressing a lot more gratitude for his time in Green Bay and how the organization has treated him. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that Lazard and his agent have sent out fliers across the league to determine his market in free agency and received some expectations they weren’t expecting. According to Lazard, the Packers are “making an effort” to re-sign him but he expects the team will let him hit the open market on March 15 before offering any potential contract extension tying him to Green Bay.
The free-agent class at the wide receiver position is shaping out to be bone dry, barring any last-minute big names getting released. This bodes well for Lazard who’s hoping to see a significant pay raise elsewhere, which hurts the Packers given the current cap space available. A similar situation transpired when former Packer receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs last March.
Having a weak market at the position could allow Lazard to cash in on a big contract with another team willing to pay him top WR2 money. It would be an unfortunate situation for the Packers who expected Lazard to make a jump as the team’s top receiving option this past season. While he set career highs with 60 receptions and 788 receiving yards, the 2022-23 season wasn’t an inspiring effort from the former undrafted free agent.
Green Bay clearly had high expectations for Lazard going into the season without the accompanying price tag to show for it. However, with the uncertainty over who will be the top wide receiver given the shallow depth and experience at the position, it might be worth it for the Packers to hand out more money in order to bring Lazard back into the fold.
If the Packers elect to move on from him this off-season, Green Bay could turn its attention toward wide receiver Robert Woods who brings some more veteran experience with a much cheaper price tag while still offering the same skill set desired in Matt LaFleur’s offensive scheme.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.