Sunday, June 26, 2022

Important update on Allen Lazards Holdout From Packers

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The Green Bay Packers may not have to worry about Allen Lazard’s contract situation much longer, according to the 26-year-old receiver’s social media.

In a post to his Instagram Story on Sunday, June 12, Lazard announced that he was back in Green Bay, Wisconsin, after being held back on signing his restricted free agent tender and the entire offseason program of the Packers, including the obligatory mini camp. He also shared a video of him riding along with Packers tight end Robert Tonyan.

The Packers presented Lazard with a second-round bid back in March that would pay him a salary of about $3.98 million for the 2022 season, but he hasn’t signed the bid and could seek a longer-term contract negotiate with the team instead of a one-year arrangement. However, Lazard lacks leverage in a situation that could get worse for him if he doesn’t sign by 4:00 p.m. ET on June 15, as the Packers will then raise the salary for his offer to 935,000 under the league’s current CBA allowed to lower US dollars.

Lazard had his best of three seasons with the Packers in 2021, catching 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. He will also have an opportunity to become the Packers’ new leading receiver in the coming year after Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling left for other teams this offseason. While it’s possible he’s also seeking some long-term security with the team, it remains unknown why he really chose to stay away from the team this offseason.

The good news is that Lazard’s return to Green Bay seems to indicate he’s moving towards some sort of settlement with the Packers, even if it’s as simple as signing his bid. It’s also possible the Packers will restructure his contract once he signs his tender, potentially adding empty years to spread his cap hit across multiple seasons.

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Right now, Lazard has the most experience of the Packers’ current offensive system and is the clear frontrunner who will rise as Aaron Rodgers’ favorite passing target next season, but there are a few others who could challenge him depending on that role as it does in training camp runs.

Sammy Watkins is the veteran who comes to mind as Lazard’s biggest competitor. The former No. 4 draft pick hasn’t had the career that many expected of him, but he’s a fast passcatcher with good hands and more than 5,000 receiving yards over the course of his career. He also has something to prove and intends to do so with a four-time MVP throwing the ball to him now. If he and Rodgers bond quickly at camp, Lazard could continue doing the dirty work as #2 or #3.

Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are also two of the wild card options in play. The Packers have generally resisted the urge to immediately throw their rookies in the spotlight, preferring instead to give them time to digest the playbook and get their NFL legs under them, but the loss of Adams and MVS in same offseason could force them to try something new things in that regard. Watson was a second-round pick the Packers looked to take over in the first round and Doubs was impressive during mini-camp, so it’s a little early to suggest neither of them will have an immediate impact in 2022.

The Packers have 10 wide receivers on their 90-man offseason roster with camp in about six weeks and will obviously need to weed out a few before the season begins, but could they decide to break their norms and keep down to seven in 2022?

There are several players who – once Lazard is signed – can be seen as suspensions for the 53-man squad: Lazard, Watson, Doubs and Randall Cobb. Amari Rodgers is also likely to be a suspension as the Packers acted to get him into the third round just a year ago and are unlikely to give up on him despite a disappointing rookie year. However, the rest of the group is a little less straightforward.

Watkins is on the verge of almost making the Packers roster for 2022. If he manages to prove his gnarly injury history is behind him and stays healthy throughout training camp, he should be an easy decision for the Packers, but his shortenable contract gives them room for flexibility if he’s struggling or im stock is exceeded.

Should Watkins make the list, the Packers will have to think long and hard about the possibility of keeping seven receivers. Samori Toure, a seventh-round rookie draft pick, could be a pure contender for his team-friendly rookie contract. There’s also Malik Taylor – who has created the active squad for each of the last two years – and Juwann Winfree, legitimately battling for a possible seventh-place finish.

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