Few free-agent signings in NY Jets history have been as immediately disastrous as the Allen Lazard addition. Lazard's first season with the Jets was an embarrassment for all parties involved, but the team isn't ready to give up on him just yet.
Mostly because they really can't.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh spoke to reporters following the team's Week 18 win over the New England Patriots, and he issued a show of support to the veteran wide receiver.
Saleh told reporters that he "guarantees" that Lazard will have a better 2024 season than his first year with the Jets, a year in which the former Green Bay Packers wideout finished with just 23 catches for 311 yards and a touchdown.
This comes after Lazard was a healthy scratch for the second time this season in the team's regular-season finale. Saleh insisted the decision was made because the Jets wanted an extra punt returner on the game-day roster, given the snowy weather conditions in Foxborough on Sunday.
The NY Jets need Allen Lazard to be better in 2024
The Jets signed Lazard to a hefty four-year, $44 million contract this past offseason, giving him the most guaranteed money of any wide receiver in free agency last year.
The hope was that Lazard could build off of a career year in 2022 and provide much-needed depth to the Jets' wide receiver room. For Lazard, it was an opportunity to reunite with Aaron Rodgers and continue catching passes from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
But after Rodgers went down with a torn Achilles in Week 1, Lazard never found his footing in the offense. He struggled immensely with drops, finishing with the worst drop rate among all NFL wide receivers with at least 40 targets.
The Jets slowly phased him out of the offense, instead giving snaps to undrafted rookies Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gipson, and Irvin Charles instead. Not ideal for a player making $11 million per year.
The Jets are stuck with Lazard through the 2024 season, and as Saleh alluded to earlier in the year, the team will almost certainly release him the moment they can. That won't be until next offseason, however.
That means Lazard will be back with the Jets in 2024. It wouldn't be wise to count on him to play an important role in the offense, but his salary might warrant a second chance this upcoming summer.
The Jets will give Lazard every opportunity to earn his starting job back or at least rediscover a role in the offense. The impending return of Rodgers should help his case.
Saleh is confident that Lazard will be better in 2024. At this point, the Jets are just hoping to salvage whatever they can from this disastrous contract.