Allen Lazard enters the running to succeed Davante Adams as Packers' top receiver
GREEN BAY - Allen Lazard finalized the inevitable Monday morning, signing his restricted free-agent offer with the Green Bay Packers.
There was never a question of whether Lazard would sign the second-round tender worth $3.986 million, even as he skipped the offseason program hoping to secure a long-term deal with the franchise. A team would have needed to place a first-round tender on Lazard for him to play elsewhere this fall.
The Packers had no incentive to extend Lazard a long-term contract this offseason, and the fifth-year receiver's 2022 salary would have plummeted to the fifth-year veteran minimum, a loss of roughly $3 million.
"Certainly hopeful that one does come to a resolution here quickly," coach Matt LaFleur said at last week's minicamp. "We obviously would love him to be here with us. He's a big part of our football team, not only just by his play but by how he goes out there and works and helps the other guys along."
Now Lazard has a chance to secure the Packers' top receiver job 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 an opportunity to step into a more featured role in the Packers' passing game late last season. He caught five touchdowns in the final five regular-season games, building chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Lazard finished last season with a career-high 60 targets, 40 catches, 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
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Rodgers emphasized the role Lazard might have in the Packers' offense during last week's minicamp.
"He's been our dirty-work guy for most of his career here," Rodgers said. "Now he's getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver. I'm not worried about him at all stepping into that role. 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 picture of himself signing his contract at Lambeau Field on Monday afternoon. It's uncertain if he'll participate in the team's voluntary 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 years, so I definitely don't have any reservations of him not knowing what to do when he gets here. And I'll say that I'm fairly confident that I know he's a pro, and he knows how to take care of his body.
"Obviously, you want everybody here to build that team chemistry, because every year is a little bit different."