The state of Green Bay’s wide receiver corps has been discussed ad nauseam for what feels like forever, but no more so than this offseason.
The departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling thrust the position into realms of uncertainty, with the Packers relying on a new crop of rookies to supplement veterans Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins and Amari Rodgers.
Lazard has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender ahead of the 2022 season, which will pay him just short of $4million. This has led some observers to wonder whether a long-term deal could be in the works instead. Regardless of whether that’s true, is this something the Packers should be looking into?
In a wide receiver room filled with question marks, Lazard is Green Bay’s only sure thing right now. He is beloved by coaches and MVP quarterbacks alike, and it is no easy feat to find someone who fits what Matt LaFleur wants from his receivers and also has the trust of Aaron Rodgers.
So, how much would a Lazard extension cost? Spotrac shows his market value to be around $7.75million per year. A contract averaging that amount would make Lazard the 34th highest-paid receiver in the NFL; essentially, a premium WR2.
Green Bay has a good sense of what it has in Lazard, and he is unlikely to make the team look stupid for giving him a contract at that value. Will he ever be a true WR1? Probably not, but who knows? There is a chance he thrives in a more central role without Adams and ends up outperforming the contract.
Lazard doesn’t turn 27 until December, so signing him to a three or even four-year deal could be a sensible move for the Packers to ensure some much-needed continuity at the position in the coming seasons.
However, it is unlikely to be as straightforward as this, and the entire concept of extending Lazard’s stay is based on the presumption he will accept a ‘reasonable’ offer.
He will have no doubt taken note of some of the contracts handed out to wide receivers this offseason, with Christian Kirk’s $18million-per-year deal the biggest eyebrow-raiser. Lazard may want to play out this season and hope to boost his value further before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
Likewise, the Packers may prefer to take a wait-and-see approach before giving Lazard the bag.
The receiver has never seen more than 60 targets in a season or topped 513 yards. While there is an argument he could improve without Adams hogging targets, there is also the chance the presence of Adams was making it easier for Lazard to get open as he faced less attention from opposing defenses.
Ultimately, the question is whether Lazard and the Packers want the security of knowing he will be in town for the foreseeable future, or if both parties are happy to enter 2022 knowing it could be Lazard’s final year in Green Bay.
Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW.