Are New York Jets closer to cutting expensive, underperforming receivers?

It doesn’t seem practical to break the bait on a four-year commitment after just one season, but could that ultimately be the outcome for the New York Jets and receiver Allen Lazard?

His first season as a Jet was nothing short of disastrous, as the long-term contract he signed is reportedly worth $44 million. He caught just 23 of 49 receiving targets while scoring one touchdown in 14 appearances.

The veteran receiver’s performance was so disappointing that he endured two benchings, earning him a healthy scratch for three different games.

“I don’t think Allen’s story is written,” head coach Robert Saleh said at his season-ending press conference on Jan. 8. “I think he’s going to have a fantastic year next year. We just have to get back to work.”

New York apparently targeted Lazard as a potential WR2 last season, but his status has seemingly dropped significantly since then.

While there is hope that he and quarterback Aaron Rodgers can recreate the success they shared as Green Bay Packers, the Jets haven’t exactly been in the right place this spring.

They signed former Los Angeles Chargers star Mike Williams to a one-year contract worth a reported $10 million. Although Williams is coming off ACL surgery, he likely jumps Lazard on the depth chart due to past production. Williams has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark twice in his career. Lazard’s single-season career high is 788 receiving yards.

Then, at the NFL draft, New York traded up in the early Round 3 to land Western Kentucky receiver Malachi Corley, who possesses noted run-after-catch ability and projects as a starting option in the slot.

Even with Rodgers back in the fold after rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon, the 28-year-old Lazard is reportedly not looking impressive during OTA’s Phase 3. There are no pads and no live contact at this point in the offseason, and the media are only present for about one in three practices.

Still, reports of a lackluster-looking Lazard should be cause for concern, especially after the way the 2023 season ended when he totaled four receptions in his final five appearances last season, including three goose eggs, and an inactive day was in weeks 17 and 18.

The Jets could opt to release Lazard and eat up the required dead salary cap space, but the more practical scenario is to roll the dice again and hope Rodgers’ presence rejuvenates the beleaguered receiver.

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