Allen Lazard’s career as an NFL player has had plenty of twists and turns over the last few years, but one constant has remained the same.
For five seasons, Lazard has caught passes from one quarterback. After signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Jets, and following recent public intentions, Lazard is once again going to be catching passes from the same signal-caller.
“It feels good knowing #12 is going to be my quarterback again,” said Lazard during his introductory press conference.
As an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, the 6’5″ receiver had to impress not just a storied franchise like the Green Bay Packers, but their future Hall-of-Fame quarterback as well. Luckily for Lazard, his relationship with Aaron Rodgers has always been strong.
“He (Rodgers) really put his arm around me. He’s a big reason why I’m here today, I can’t deny that. He stood up on a table for me during training camp when I probably didn’t deserve to make the roster during training camp.” Lazard explained. “As a wide receiver, the best relationship you could have is with a quarterback. And the relationship I have with him has been phenomenal.”
Teaming up means that Lazard has his starting quarterback again, but that wasn’t always the set plan. Even though “communication dwindled” between Rodgers and Lazard during the offseason, the two connected over working out at the same place. And while both quarterback and receiver had spoken over the last few months, “there were no implications of trying to do this (team up).”
As important as the relationship between Rodgers and himself has been, the former Packer wideout did mention that the quarterback was not the main reason for becoming a member of the New York Jets. In that regard, the coaching staff was even more important.
“Knowing that Nathaniel Hackett was here was a big thing. Knowing I was going to be in the same offense and more so the role the guys have presented to me…knowing (Hackett) was going to be here, knowing Coach Saleh and his history, I gained a lot of respect for him.”
Hackett was hired in January as a bridge to potentially entice Rodgers to come to New York. It just so happened that it also meant Green Bay’s top wide receiver would also end up joining. Over the last three seasons, Lazard has tallied over 130 catches, 1,600 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Lazard later touted the Jets’ offensive coordinator as “the best teacher I’ve ever had” as one of the big reasons that made Hackett so successful.
Having that understanding of what the new offensive coordinator wants to do is extremely important for any incoming free agent. For Lazard, that also means he can provide a leadership role for some of the young Jet skill players like Garrett Wilson.
“I have a lot of experience in primetime games, playoff games, and that’s something that hasn’t really happened here too much in recent history. So to have that experience and to be able kind of mentor the younger guys and be a pillar in the locker room were a lot of things that intrigued me about this spot.” Lazard said.
With his role ironed out, and his quarterback on the way, the expectations for the Jets have skyrocketed over the last few weeks. To a player like Lazard, that’s nothing new, but it also reinforces that there is only one goal in mind for the 2023 Jets.
“With Aaron Rodgers as quarterback, the possibility to win is always a thing. With that being said, it’s really the Super Bowl. I know how to win, I know what it’s like to operate in tough situations and so we’re going to carry those same expectations here as well.”