Allen Lazard lands with New York Jets ahead of a possible Rodgers reunion | nfl

Allen Lazard enjoyed everything about New York when he first visited a few months ago.

Now, it will be the home of the Jets’ new wide receiver. And he’ll be reunited with his former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and perhaps quarterback Aaron Rodgers soon.

lazard signed a four-year contract with the Jets on Friday, a deal worth $44 million and includes $22 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.

“For me, I just wanted to get to a big city,” Lazard, who is from Iowa, said during a Zoom call. “I wanted to get to a place that especially had a melting pot of cultures and be able to have that experience. You know, the bright lights, New York City.”

The Big Apple spotlight could soon shine on Rodgers, Lazard’s former Packers teammate, who said on the Pat McAfee Show this week that he intends to play for New York this year after 18 seasons in Green Bay. The parties are still working out compensation details to try to complete a trade.

Lazard knows expectations will rise dramatically if Rodgers lands with the Jets, a franchise that hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1969 and has the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 12 seasons.

“Being here definitely helps the entire organization to be able to take the next step they need to make a deep playoff run and win the Lombardi trophy,” Lazard said.

The 27-year-old wide receiver said Rodgers’ decision wasn’t necessarily a determining factor in where he would sign as a free agent, but it “definitely helps.”

Lazard said the presence of coach Robert Saleh was also a factor, but he praised Hackett, who worked with the receiver in the same role as offensive coordinator at Green Bay from 2019-21.

“He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had in my life,” Lazard said. “And I go from school to football, he just makes learning fun. …he makes it really easy and allows you to go out there and play fast and not think. That is why I have been very successful in recent years.”

Lazard tweeted Thursday night that he and Hackett were having dinner together, hinting that the signing was imminent. On Wednesday, he posted on Twitter a farewell to the Packers and their fans:: “It has been an honor to represent the ‘G’ and wear the green and gold with each and every one of you”.

The 6-foot-5 Lazard, considered an excellent blocker at receiver, is coming off his best NFL season. He had career-highs of 60 receptions and 788 receiving yards along with six touchdowns; in 2021, he had a career-high eight TD receptions for him.

“I think objectively a lot of people might look at Allen Lazard and think he’s a really good player, we’d love to have him on our team,” Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show. “Anyone would be lucky to have him in the locker room.”

Lazard was signed by Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State in 2018 and was signed by Green Bay off the Jaguars’ practice squad that season.

“I still feel undrafted,” Lazard said with a smile, “because the checks haven’t come in yet.”

After starting just 12 games in his first three seasons, Lazard has stepped into a starting role and developed a strong relationship with Rodgers while starting 28 games over the past two years. In five NFL seasons, Lazard has 169 career receptions for 2,236 yards and 20 TDs.

“During my time with Aaron in Green Bay, he really embraced me and it’s a big reason why I’m here today,” Lazard said of his NFL career. “I can’t deny that. … he has trusted me in many high-pressure situations and he always believed in me”.

Separately, the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Marcus Mariota have agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press on Friday.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal, said Mariota’s contract is worth up to $8 million, including incentives.

Mariota, who was released by Atlanta last month, will back up Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia.

Former Eagles coach Chip Kelly coached Mariota in Oregon and coveted him in the 2015 draft but couldn’t trade him to get it. Mariota was #2 to Tennessee.

Mariota completed 61.3% of his passes last season for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 starts for the Falcons. He also had a career-high 438 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Mariota is 34-40 as a starter with the Falcons and Titans. He played sparingly behind Derek Carr in two seasons as the Raiders’ backup in 2020-21.

Mariota replaces Gardner Minshew, who reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Minshew went 1-3 in four starts replacing Jalen Hurts the past two seasons with the Eagles. He reunites with Shane Steichen, the new Colts coach who was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator.

Minshew, a sixth-round pick out of Jacksonville in 2019, went 7-13 as a starter in two seasons with the Jaguars. He has completed 62.8% of his passes for 6,632 yards, 44 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in four seasons.

The Colts have had a different starting quarterback for five straight seasons, and this year it will be six in a row after Matt Ryan was released.

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