Newly minted New York Jets receiver Allen Lazard said the Green Bay Packers had talks with his representatives but did not express strong interest in keeping him before he signed a four-year deal with the Jets that became official on Friday.
“They were in talks with my agent,” Lazard said Friday. “But they didn’t seem like they were going to miss me too much or anything. I enjoyed my time there.”
Lazard admitted he had a feeling the 2022 season would be his last in Green Bay after he failed to get a contract extension done before last year. Instead of receiving a multi-year commitment from the Packers, he played out the season on the one-year restricted tender.
“Going into this last season, knowing that I wasn’t getting an extension beforehand, it didn’t seem like they wanted to retain me. I had a strong inclination it was going to be my last season there,” Lazard said.
Lazard set career-highs in catches (60) and receiving yards (788) while leading the Packers in targets (100) during the 2022 season.
Handcuffed by the salary cap, the Packers were likely unable to offer a competitive contract to Lazard, who signed a deal worth up to $44 million with the Jets.
An unrestricted free agent, Lazard said he would have picked the Jets as his next team regardless of whether or not Aaron Rodgers was following him there. In fact, he said he had no conversations with Rodgers about teaming up in New York beforehand.
So, why the Big Apple? Lazard, who grew up in Iowa and then played in Green Bay for five seasons, said he wanted to play and live in a big city, and he was drawn to the Jets by coaches Robert Saleh and Nathaniel Hackett.
Lazard called Hackett the “best teacher” he’s had in his life. On multiple occasions, he complimented Saleh for the way he coached defense.
Although staying with Rodgers wasn’t the driving force behind going to the Jets, Lazard is certainly happy he’ll get to keep the same quarterback.
“It feels good knowing 12 is going to be my quarterback again,” Lazard said.
Lazard said he has a “phenomenal” relationship with Rodgers, who vouched for him early in his career. The two now train together in California.
Lazard, an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, caught 169 passes for 2,236 yards and 20 touchdowns over 57 games with the Packers. Now, he’ll go to New York to try and help the Jets take the next step.
“So excited for this next chapter of my life,” Lazard said.
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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire