Aaron Rodgers and Allen Lazard played the previous five seasons together in Green Bay.
Now it looks like the dynamic quarterback/wide receiver duo will be suiting up again for the Jets.
Lazard officially signed a four-year contract worth $44 million, including $22 million guaranteed, on Friday. Earlier this week, Rodgers announced his “intentions” to play for the Jets and the two sides continue to discuss a trade.
The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, but they hope to change that with the addition of Lazard, along with Rodgers, if the Jets can get that deal done at the finish line. During his first interview with Jets media, Lazard said that if the Jets get Rodgers, it will automatically change expectations within the organization.
“I think with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the chance to win is always important,” Lazard said Friday. “That being said, it’s really the Super Bowl, especially the point in his career and his ability. A four-time MVP winner, he’s won back-to-back MVPs, two or three years ago. His caliber of play automatically elevates the potential and abilities of everyone on the field immediately.
“We have high expectations, I have high expectations from the Green Bay Packers organization, obviously, they have been successful in their history. We’re going to carry that same expectation here as well.”
The Jaguars signed Lazard as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State in 2018. The Packers then cut him from the Jacksonville practice squad and added him to their 53-man roster.
( Antwan Staley: Aaron Rodgers and the Jets need each other because they both have something to prove )
In all, Lazard spent more than four seasons with the Packers. His numbers increased each year he played with Rodgers. Last season, Lazard had his best numbers recording 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns. This followed a season in which Lazard had 40 receptions for 513 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021.
Lazard is also an excellent downfield blocker.
But the Packers went 8-9 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018. This followed three straight trips to the playoffs, including playing twice in the NFC Championship.
Lazard maintains that he has a special relationship with Rodgers and says the two have kept in touch this offseason while working out at the same gym in Los Angeles. But Lazard says that wasn’t the reason he signed with the Jets, as he was looking to play in a major city after growing up in the Midwest.
“During my time with Aaron in Green Bay, he really embraced me,” Lazard said. “He is a big reason why I am here today. I can’t deny that he stood up on a table for me during practice when he probably didn’t deserve to be on the roster, at least in the front office’s eyes.
( Pat Leonard: Little brother Jets draws New York attention from Giants with imminent arrival of Aaron Rodgers )
“He called me to be in the game and he has trusted me in high-pressure situations and he has always believed in me. As a wide receiver, the best relationship you can have is with the quarterback, and the relationship I’ve had with him has been phenomenal.
“Obviously, there has been an inclination for me to come here, but after the last game in the locker room, I mentioned that I have to worry about myself and take care of what’s best for me, since I can’t worry about other people. Me and my decision to come here was purely based on that and doing what’s best for my career.”
A main reason Lazard signed with the Jets was Nathaniel Hackett, who became the team’s offensive coordinator in January after being fired as the Broncos’ coach in December. Hackett was Lazard’s offensive coordinator during his one season in Jacksonville. The two were also together in Green Bay from 2019 to 2021 before Hackett left to become Denver’s coach.
On Thursday night, Lazard hinted he and Hackett were having dinner along with a GIF that reads, “Hey look at us, who would have thought that, not me.”
the striped express
The Daily News sports editors curate the best Yankees stories of the week from our award-winning columnists and writers. Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.
“Fun, easy, he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Lazard said of Hackett. “And that goes for school, for football, it just makes learning fun. That’s the most important thing when it comes to the NFL, offense and defense because it’s so complicated with so many rules and so many things that you have to improve in real life that you need to be able to speak that language fluently.
( Mike Lupica: Credits Jets owner Woody Johnson for trying to attack Aaron Rodgers )
“I think he does a great job teaching that. It makes it really easy and allows you to get out there and play fast and not think. That’s why I’ve been very successful in recent years.”
Lazard will join a Jets receiving corps that has immense potential. Garrett Wilson was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after catching 83 passes for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns.
They also have Elijah Moore, who had a disappointing 2022 season. He hauled 37 receptions for 446 yards and a touchdown and was unhappy with the quarterback situation and his role in former offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s scheme. Additionally, tight ends Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah proved to be valuable options in Gang Green’s offense.
With running back Breece Hall expected to return from his ACL injury, the Jets’ offense will undoubtedly improve from last year when they finished 25th in total offense and 29th in points per game.
“Explosive,” Lazards said of the Jets’ receiving corps. “I think he has great potential. I don’t like the word potential just because it means a lot of intangible things.
“Obviously, Garrett is a phenomenal player within himself and the rest of the guys in the room have a high ceiling. So I’m excited to get in there and meet them personally, get out on the field and work with them and be able to create that bond when we’re out there.”