The first week of NFL free agency is over, but there are still plenty of moves imminent. With most NFL free agents, the process is simple. Their agent talks to teams, and someone signs them. For Allen Lazard, making predictions as to where he will play is a little more complicated. Lazard is a restricted free agent. What does that mean, and how might it impact where Lazard plays this season?
Predictions for Allen Lazard in 2022 NFL free agency
The Packers placed a second-round tender on Lazard. He is currently “signed” for one-year, $3.9 million. Lazard will play for the Packers under that contract unless another team makes him an offer.
If another team offers Lazard a contract, the Packers have two options: match it and retain him or let him go and receive a second-round pick as compensation.
Lazard has never been super productive. He caught just 1 pass in his rookie season but emerged as a useful receiver the past three years. During those seasons, he’s caught between 33-40 balls for 451-513 receiving yards each year. Consistent. Useful. But not exactly a difference-maker.
At 26 years old, Lazard still has plenty of football in front of him. Despite not being overly productive, Lazard is a talented player. He has the ability to be at least a WR3, if not a WR2 for an NFL team.
Green Bay Packers
Ultimately, I would be very surprised if Lazard played for a team other than the Packers this season. The Packers like him and have expressed a desire to give him a long-term deal. That seems like the plan unless some other team snatches him away.
It’s possible another team makes an offer to Lazard, forcing the Packers to match. $4 million is very cheap in the current wide receiver market. With the top wide receivers off the board, Lazard is rapidly becoming one of the best receivers available. There are several teams on which Lazard would be an immediate upgrade on their WR2. For a couple, he would be the best wide receiver on their roster.
Nevertheless, Lazard remaining with the Packers is still the most likely outcome. With Davante Adams gone, Lazard is needed now more than ever. Green Bay will undoubtedly draft a receiver, but Lazard is the guy on the roster with the best rapport with Aaron Rodgers.
Whether he plays this season on his RFA tender or gets a long-term deal remains to be seen. Either way, I expect Lazard to be a Packer this season.
At this point, the Falcons should be linked to just about all free agent wide receivers. Their current WR1 (if we’re not counting Kyle Pitts) is Olamide Zaccheaus. That just can’t happen.
The Falcons are going to use some draft capital on wide receivers. Even if they draft a rookie in the first round, it’s not enough. They need two, if not three, new receivers.
On the Falcons, Lazard would have a chance to be a 100-target guy — a starter for sure. With $5 million in salary cap space, the Falcons can afford to beat the Packers’ offer, forcing them to match.
If the Falcons do extend Lazard an offer, the Packers will probably match it. Regardless, they should at least try.
This is another spot that makes all the sense in the world. In fact, Lazard is exactly what the Cardinals need.
They have DeAndre Hopkins but lost Christian Kirk to the Jaguars. A.J. Green is a free agent, and they really shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to re-sign him. Rondale Moore is not a true WR2. He’s more of a WR3/slot guy and a player you manufacture touches for. Antoine Wesley is a WR4. Yet, those are the two guys behind Hopkins right now.
Lazard would be a great complement to Hopkins the same way he was for Adams. Between Kirk, Green, and even Chase Edmonds, the Cardinals have 248 targets unaccounted for. Of course, 100 of those could go to Hopkins if he plays a full season, but there are still plenty available for a WR2.
The Cardinals don’t have much in the way of cap space, but they can structure Lazard’s contract in such a way to make it work. Again, Lazard will probably end up back in Green Bay, but the Cardinals are another team that should at least consider extending an offer his way.