GREEN BAY, Wis. — Allen Lazard ended the inevitable Monday morning, signing his restricted free-agent offer with the Green Bay Packers.
There was never any doubt that Lazard would sign the second-round offer worth $3.986 million, even as he skipped the offseason program in hopes of securing a long-term deal with the franchise. A team would have needed to place a first-round offer on Lazard for him to play elsewhere this fall.
The Packers had no incentive to extend Lazard to a long-term deal this offseason, and the fifth-year wide receiver’s salary in 2022 would have plummeted to the minimum for fifth-year veterans, a loss of roughly $3 million.
“I certainly hope that one comes to a resolution here quickly,” coach Matt LaFleur said at minicamp last week. “Obviously we’d love for him to be here with us. He’s a huge part of our football team, not just because of his game but how he goes out there and works and helps others.”
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Now Lazard has a chance to secure the Packers’ wide receiver job that was vacated when Davante Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Lazard got a chance to take on a more prominent role in the Packers’ passing game late last season. He caught five touchdowns in the last five games of the regular season, building chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Lazard finished last season with 60 goals, 40 receptions, 513 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns.
Rodgers emphasized the role Lazard could play in the Packers’ offense during minicamp last week.
“He’s been our dirty work guy for most of his career here,” Rodgers said. “Now he has a chance to be the No. 1 receiver. I’m not worried about him taking that role at all. I’ve talked to him a lot. I know how he takes care of his body and I know he’ll be ready when he’s here.”
Lazard tweeted a photo of himself signing his contract at Lambeau Field on Monday afternoon. It is unclear if he will participate in the team’s volunteer organized team activities this week.
“We’d love for him to be here,” LaFleur said last week. “Obviously, he’s been in our system for a couple of years, so I definitely have no reservations that he doesn’t know what to do when he gets here. And I’ll say I’m pretty sure I know he’s a pro, and he knows how to take care of his Body.
“Obviously you want everyone here to develop team chemistry, because every year is a little bit different.”