The Packers will be without their leading receiver when they attempt to pull of an upset of the Bills Sunday night. The team announced that Allen Lazardhas been ruled out due to a shoulder injury, adding further to the question marks surrounding Green Bay’s pass catchers.
Lazard had played in six straight contests after missing the season opener due to an ankle injury. He has operated as the team’s new No. 1 wideout, as expected given the departures of Davante Adamsand Marquez Valdes-Scantling during the offseason. Lazard has seen at least six targets in all but one game this season, eclipsing 100 yards just once as the Packers have struggled to find a consistent passing game.
The news also comes only one week after fellow veterans Sammy Watkinsand Randall Cobbswapped places with one another regarding their availability. The latter being placed on IR made room for the former to make just his third appearance of the season. Cobb’s absence could be acutely felt, as he ranks second on the team with 257 yards on the campaign.
In more positive news at the position, Christian Watsonis listed as questionable and could return after missing three games, including each of the last two. The second-round rookie said during the week that he was “feeling really good, feeling really confident” about his recovery from a hamstring injury. He could see a large role upon his return, given the loss of both Cobb and Lazard, though his and fellow rookie receiver Romeo Doubs‘ lack of consistency and rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgershas been a talking point amidst the team’s struggles.
As another trade deadline approaches, this era’s trade kingpin is naturally being mentioned in potential deals. Teams are looking into Brandin Cooks ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline, amid another season in which the Texans are not expected to challenge for a playoff spot.
The Chiefs, Packers and Rams have discussed Cooks with the Texans, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. While a trade would put Cooks alongside the likes of Eric Dickerson, Earl Morrall, Norm Snead and Co., the thrice-dealt wide receiver has said previously he did not want to be moved again. Cooks nevertheless remains a viable trade chip in his ninth season and is now winding down his 20s with a rebuilding team. No deal appears close, Wilson adds, but Cooks appears back on the market.
Cooks, 29, signed an extension to stay with the Texans in April, cutting off his previous batch of trade rumors. Signed to a two-year, $39MM deal, Cooks is nevertheless tied to a $1.17MM base salary. The veteran’s salaries spike after this season — to $18MM (guaranteed) and $13MM in 2023 and ’24, respectively — but thanks partially to a September restructure, Cooks’ 2022 money would not be particularly imposing for a team to add.
Each of these teams has been connected to wide receiver pursuits. The Packers have been mentioned as a team looking for wideout help. That report emerged before a rough outing from Green Bay’s passing attack, one that preceded Aaron Rodgers suggesting players who are making too many mistakes should see their playing time reduced. Randall Cobb is on IR, and second-round pick Christian Watson has missed the past two weeks due to a hamstring injury. Allen Lazard is also battling a shoulder ailment he sustained in Washington; Green Bay’s top wideout was outfitted with an arm sling Monday, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic notes.
While calls for the Packers to augment their post-Davante Adams receiver situation came in this offseason, the team resisted. It is now 3-4, increasing the urgency ahead of Rodgers’ 39th birthday. Cooks fetched first-round picks in his initial two trades (from the Saints to the Patriots in 2017 and from the Pats to the Rams in 2018) and a second-rounder (from Los Angeles to Houston in 2020), prices that will test the Packers’ resolve.
It probably will not cost a second-rounder this time around, though the Texans were seeking such a return this spring. Cooks’ 2023 guarantee will affect his trade market this time around. The Packers are also being connected to the Cardinals’ A.J. Green via trade, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes. With Green now 34 and seeing minimal Arizona playing time, the Packers would not need to pay much. Cooks would also provide a bigger boost for Green Bay’s passing attack. The Packers’ pass-catcher search also includes tight ends, per Graziano.
Kansas City has been linked as anOdell Beckham Jr. suitor, joining Los Angeles on this front as well, but the team has seen its free agency additions — JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling — make leaps in recent weeks. Both topped 100 receiving yards against the 49ers, a game in which the Chiefs surpassed 500 yards. Cooks would become the most experienced player in the Chiefs’ receiving corps, and with second-rounder Skyy Moore not making much of an impact yet, the six-time 1,000-yard receiver could buy the rookie some time.
The Rams rostered Cooks for two seasons, having traded their 2018 first-round pick for him, and gave him a lucrative second contract. The team used Cooks as a starter alongside Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, and while the former Saints first-round pick posted a career-high 1,204 yards in the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII-qualifying season, concussions limited him in 2019. This year’s Rams edition is struggling on offense — partially due to UFA addition Allen Robinson‘s minimal impact — and the team has not shied away from splashy moves.
A Cooks trade would seemingly cut off an OBJ path. The Rams have been the clubhouse leaders for Beckham for months, but with their offense ranking 29th in scoring and OBJ not expected to be ready until December, the team may be facing a timeline question. Van Jefferson is on track to return from IR soon, but the team initially added Beckham despite rostering Kupp, Woods and Jefferson last year. The Chiefs appear better positioned to wait for Beckham compared to the 3-4 Rams.
This season, Cooks (28 receptions, 281 yards, one touchdown) is not on 1,000-yard pace. While the Texans could retain the 5-foot-10 target for the purposes of Davis Mills development, stockpiling future draft capital should certainly be considered given where the franchise resides on its rebuild timeline. Cooks may end up serving as a consolation prize for one of the three teams involved in the latest Beckham sweepstakes.
Here are a few other Sunday game statuses we heard about today, starting with two top receivers in Green Bay:
The Packers‘ top returning receiver from last year had to miss Week 1 while dealing with an ankle injury. While they got Allen Lazard back last week, he was seen limping at points of the game. Regardless, Lazard “is optimistic about playing” this week versus Tampa Bay, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Packers have been cautious with him in practice this week, but it’s likely been precautionary. On the other hand, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be without one of his top targets as Sammy Watkinshas been ruled out with a hamstring injury, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is also dealing with hamstring issues but is listed as questionable going into the weekend.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith is expected to miss his first game due to injury since 2016, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Smith did sit out two games last year on the COVID-19/reserve list and took a rest day in the 2019 season finale, but a concussion suffered in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles will likely hold him out against the Lions this week.
Tyler Kroft has been the man for the 49ers at tight end, starting twice to begin the season in place of the injured star, George Kittle. He has never been a strong receiving threat, but his ability to run block has made him a valuable asset to the San Francisco offense. In the team’s Week 2 win over the Seahawks, though, Kroft suffered a sprained MCL. He’s expected “to miss several weeks” because of the knee injury, but, due to new injured reserve rules, the veteran will not be placed on IR, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic. The new rules this year dictate that only eight players can be designated to return from IR, so, even though Kroft will be eligible to return after several weeks, the 49ers are choosing to save their designated to return IR spots for more valuable players who may end up sustaining injuries later on in the season. The timing of Kroft’s injury is not the worst it could possibly be as Kittle is set to return this week from injury. Kittle is mostly known for his receiving ability but is a decent run blocker in his own right and will help to vacate any deficit resulting from Kroft’s absence.
The Lions will be down one of their rotational defensive linemen when they play the Vikings and, according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, a recent surgery will hold him out for a while. Defensive lineman John Cominsky is dealing with a wrist injury that required the surgery. Cominsky may not be a household name, but, when he was put on waivers after three years of playing with the Falcons, Cominsky drew the interest of one-fourth of the league, as eight teams were intrigued enough to put in claims on the former Golden Eagle out of Division II Charleston in West Virginia. The Lions were second in the waiver order and were granted the 6-foot-5 lineman, but the Commanders, Colts, Browns, Texans, Cardinals, Vikings, and Bengals all attempted to bring him in. With Cominsky out, Lions head coach Dan Campbell suggested that the starting four defensive linemen will be backed up by the likes of Austin Bryant and undrafted rookie Demetrius Taylor.
September 19th, 2022 at 10:01am CST by Adam La Rose
The Packers hoped to have David Bakhtiariback in the lineup to start the 2022 season, but that has not come to fruition. The All-Pro left tackle sat out once again during last night’s game against the Bears, and is facing an unusual practice routine when he does make his return.
As detailed by Ryan Woods of PackersNews.com, Bakhtiari will not suit up for each of the three consecutive practice days during any given week, even after he has fully recovered from the ACL tear which occurred on New Year’s Eve in 2020. The soon-to-be 31-year-old will therefore not have a full week of preparation in advance of any games he does appear in this season.
“He’s gotten a lot of reps,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Bakhtiari’s slow journey back to game action. “There’s not many people that can probably have a schedule like that, but I do believe – and we believe as an organization – that he’s one of those guys.”
The former fourth-rounder earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020, but was limited to just one game played last season as he attempted to come back from the injury. He underwent a third knee surgery this offseason, which led to a stay on the PUP list but also optimism that he would be fully recovered in time for the season opener. In the absence of that taking place, Yosuah Nijmanhas filled in on the blindside.
In more positive health news, Green Bay was able to welcome back fellow Pro Bowl tackle Elgton Jenkinsand No. 1 receiver Allen Lazardyesterday, after the pair were sidelined for Week 1. Their health will give the Packers’ offense a notable boost, but the team’s second highest-paid player appears to face plenty of uncertainty in the short- and long-term future with respect to his availability.
September 11th, 2022 at 7:49am CST by Adam La Rose
SEPTEMBER 11: Unfortunately, the Packers will be without their OT bookends for at least one more week. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, both Bakhtiari and Jenkins will miss Sunday’s opener against the Vikings. Yosuah Nijman, who started eight games at left tackle in 2021, will again get the nod in Bakhtiari’s absence.
SEPTEMBER 10: Green Bay is facing a generally positive situation on the injury front heading into their season opener against the Vikings. One notable absence is expected in the receiving corps, however.
The Packers’ final injury report lists Allen Lazardas doubtful (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). He has been dealing with an ankle injury, which has kept him out of practice throughout the week. Green Bay would sorely miss their new top receiver in the event of any lengthy absence.
Lazard signed his RFA tender in June, locking him into a one-year salary of just under $4MM. The timing of his contract status couldn’t have been any better, as the 26-year-old is set to take on the No. 1 spot following the departures of Davante Adamsand Marquez Valdes-Scantlingthis offseason. A former UDFA, Lazard posted career highs across the board in a complementary role last season with 40 catches, 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
Assuming he misses the Minnesota game, the Packers will turn to veterans Randall Cobband Sammy Watkinsat the position, along with rookies Romeo Doubsand Christian Watson. Quarterback Aaron Rodgersopenly criticized the young pass-catchers last month as they look to prepare for significant roles right away to begin their NFL careers. Doubs in particular is slated to be a starter, and has reportedly formed a rapport with the reigning MVP, potentially setting him up for a notable workload especially if Lazard is out.
As Demovsky notes, several other key players are expected to suit up for the Packers. Among those are offensive lineman David Bakhtiari andElgton Jenkins. The former made it clear earlier this week that he expects to be recovered from the torn ACL which essentially cost him all of last season. The latter, meanwhile, should man the right tackle spot with Bakhtiari back, giving the Packers a formidable bookend tandem.
Tight end Robert Tonyanwill also play, after he spent the offseason recovering from his own ACL tear. He, along with running back Aaron Jones, profile as significant contributors in the Packers’ passing game, especially without Lazard on the field.
The Packers have had a more eventful offseason than nearly every other team in the league. One of the results of their moves is a decided lack of proven commodities at the receiver position, something which sparked quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ recent comments about the improvement which needs to be made amongst some of their new pass-catchers.
“The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent,” the reigning MVP said, via PFF’s Doug Kyed. “A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
Per Kyed, Rodgers has stated they he wants Allen Lazardto operate as the “top option,” something which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given his NFL resume. Rodgers’ preference would be for Lazard to be joined as a starter by veterans Sammy Watkinsand Randall Cobb – a trio which would include, by far, the most experience available. However, rookies Romeo Doubs(who has seen first-team reps) and Christian Watson (whom the Packers traded up to select in the second round) could unseat Watkins and/or Cobb, leaving the team with more upside – but less certainty – at an important position as they look to contend for a Super Bowl.
Here are some more WR notes from around the league:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about the possibility of signing Antonio Brownyesterday. The former All-Pro hasn’t generated much interest since his colorful exit from the Buccaneers in the middle of a game last season, but would add experience to a banged-up Dallas receiver room. Instead, Jones replied “we want to give these young guys a real chance to make this team” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). A number of inexperienced wideouts are competing for depth spots behind the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washingtonand Jalen Tolbert, and will be allowed to continue doing so for the remainder of the preseason.
Kyed tweets that one of the surprise omissions from the Patriots’ depth chart, according to some, could be Nelson Agholor. However, he notes that cutting him would not be financially viable (doing so would incur a dead cap charge of $10MM), and adds that teams which could be interested in trading for him are not willing to do so at his current salary of $9MM. More to the point, the team’s new offense could allow the 29-year-old to enjoy a bounceback season from the underwhelming 37-473-3 statline he produced last year.
Set for what could be a fascinating platform year, Allen Lazard is now under contract with the Packers. The veteran signed his second-round RFA tender Monday, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter).
This amounts to a necessary move for Lazard, who could have seen the Packers slash his salary had he not signed the tender by June 15. RFAs unsigned beyond that date are subject to seeing their tender salary — in Lazard’s case, $3.99MM — turn into 120% of their previous season’s earnings. Lazard made $850K last year. The young talent missed Green Bay’s minicamp last week, not being required to attend due to his contract situation.
The 6-foot-5 receiver could be set for one of the more unusual role expansions in recent memory. The Packers’ decisions to trade franchise-tagged wideout Davante Adams to the Raiders and then let Marquez Valdes-Scantling sign with the Chiefs leave Lazard, 26, as a candidate to vault from Aaron Rodgers‘ No. 3 receiver to his top aerial weapon. While Green Bay made some receiver additions — mainly journeyman Sammy Watkins and second-round pick Christian Watson — Lazard has a major opportunity in his contract year.
A UDFA out of Iowa State, Lazard caught on with the Packers in 2019. Rodgers consistently praised the newcomer, who has been a Packers regular for the past three years, in that first year and has continued to rely on him as a complementary target. In 2021, Lazard delivered his best work, posting a career-high 513 receiving yards. His eight touchdown catches were more than he tallied between the 2019 and ’20 seasons.
This could be an opportunity for the ex-Jaguars post-draft signing to earn a long-term Packers extension. The team has no veteran wideouts signed beyond 2022, with Randall Cobb‘s deal expiring at season’s end. If Lazard is not ultimately in the Packers’ long-term plans, he has a chance to carve out a strong 2023 free agency market.
Like a number of other teams, the Packers held their mandatory minicamp this past week. Attendance wasn’t an issue from a legal perspective, but there was a notable absence nevertheless. Wideout Allen Lazardwas not with the team, as noted (on Twitter) by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
Lazard found himself as a restricted free agent for the second straight year earlier this offseason. After going undrafted, the 26-year-old found a home with the Packers in 2018. One season later, he emerged as a complimentary part of Green Bay’s offense, putting up similar numbers in 2020 as well. That led to the Packers placing the exclusive-rights free agent tender on him, which he signed in July.
Playing on the one-year deal, the Iowa State product put up career-highs across the board. Seeing the field for considerably more snaps than previous campaigns, he totalled 40 catches, 513 yards and eight touchdowns. The Packers rewarded that production by placing the second-round RFA tender on him in March, setting him up for a 2022 salary of just under $4MM. As explained by Demovsky, however, Lazard has yet to sign that tender, meaning he wasn’t required to attend minicamp.
Given the fact that Green Bay’s receiver room now no longer includes Davante Adamsor Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Lazard could be in line for another career year. The team has added Sammy Watkinsin free agency, along with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the draft, but much of the offense figures to run through the four-year veteran. With more cap space remaining than most other teams in the league, the Packers could absorb the value of the tender should Lazard sign it, but they would also be able to afford a long-term deal, if that is Lazard’s aim. With the team’s offseason having concluded until training camp, this will remain a situation worth watching in the coming weeks.
It looks like another piece of the Packers’ passing attack will likely remain in Green Bay. The team is placing the second-round tender on wide receiver Allen Lazard(Twitter link via NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo).
The one-year deal will come in at a price of just under $4MM. That will roughly double the former UDFA’s career earnings. After making a single reception in 2018, the 26-year-old has grown into a significant role in Green Bay’s offense.
Following two straight campaigns with almost identical numbers in 2019 and 2020, Lazard had a career year last season. In 15 games, he registered 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. Alongside Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, he played a key role in the team’s receiver room.
Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that it is “likely” the Packers guarantee a portion of the salary the tender comes with. If that does happen, it may encourage Lazard to sign it, which would open up the possibility of a restructure – something the Packers have become intimately familiar with this offseason, as they try to keep as many pieces of last year’s NFC-topping squad around as possible.
Lazard now has until April 22 to see what his market could be regarding offer sheets from outside teams. If he were to land a more lucrative offer, the Packers would receive a second round pick (along with some financial breathing room) in return. However, that would leave them in need of a replacement for a solid complimentary piece to their offensive core.
The NFL has finished their investigation into the Packers handling of COVID-19 protocols. The organization has been slapped with a $300K fine “for violations of the NFL and NFL Players Association protocols,” per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky (on Twitter). Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wideout Allen Lazard were also fined $14,650.
Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), the two players were fined for attending a maskless Halloween party. The Packers’ organizational fine also stemmed from the party; while the gathering wasn’t organized by the team, the NFL believes the organization should have penalized each player. Otherwise, the NFL determined that the Packers complied to all protocols, with Garafolo noting that there was “no widespread or systemic mask-wearing violations.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Packers organization was notified that “future violations could result in escalated discipline,” including the potential loss of draft picks.
The league looked at footage taken at the team’s facility to assure that masks were being worn and protocols were being followed. The NFL also interviewed Packers personnel as part of the process.
More notes from around the NFL:bay
A woman filed a lawsuit accusing Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook of assault, battery and false imprisonment, per Schefter. Cook’s attorney said his client was the victim in the incident, adding that the woman also tried to extort millions of dollars from the player. According to the lawsuit, the woman traveled to Minnesota to break up with Cook, and the meeting soon turned violent. Cook is accused of causing a concussion and leaving a scar on the woman’s face. Cook’s side says the woman stole Cook’s garage door opener, broke into the player’s house, and maced him upon entering. Both the Vikings and the NFL acknowledged that they were aware of the lawsuit.
New Raiders wideout DeSean Jackson will receive $1MM for the rest of the season, according to Garafolo (via Twitter). If Jackson decides to file for termination pay, he’ll end up earning more than he would have by sticking around Los Angeles. Meanwhile, interim head coach RichBisaccia told reporters that he’s excited to see what Jackson can bring to the squad. “I think we all have a lot of respect for his career and what he’s done, and I can remember him coming out,” Bisaccia said (h/t to Myles Simmons of ProFootballTalk.com). “So, we are excited about getting another speed element out there to be a complement to what we are trying to do on offense, certainly with the speed that Zay [Jones] has and what Bryan [Edwards] and Hunter [Renfrow] bring to us. It will be good for us to get another speed element going on offense. We are excited about getting him to practice.”
Sam Darnold suffered a fractured scapula, and the Panthers QB will “most likely” miss several weeks, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). Darnold had one of his worst outings of the season on Sunday against the Patriots, completing only 48 percent of his passes while tossing three interceptions. P.J. Walker will likely get the starting nod with Darnold out of the lineup, although the team did add Matt Barkley earlier today.