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NFL free agency: Jets sign WR Allen Lazard as pursuit of Aaron Rodgers takes big step forward

Allen Lazard said goodbye to Green Bay in a series of tweets Wednesday. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Allen Lazard said goodbye to Green Bay in a series of tweets Wednesday. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New York Jets took a major step toward trading for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Friday. No, the team didn't acquire Rodgers, but it did the next best thing: Signed Rodgers' favorite target.

Wideout Allen Lazard officially signed with the Jets on Friday, the team announced. The deal was rumored for days, and Lazard hinted at it in a big way, sending out a farewell thread to Packers fans on Twitter on Wednesday.

Lazard, 27, is coming off a career best season, in which he caught 60 passes for 788 yards and 6 touchdowns. Prior to the emergence of Christian Watson, Lazard served as Rodgers' primary target in Green Bay.

Despite some middling receiving numbers, Lazard has always been a favorite of Rodgers. The All-Pro quarterback has pushed for Lazard to receive more playing time for years. Rodgers finally got his wish in 2022. While Lazard didn't post dominant numbers, he proved to be a solid player who Rodgers trusts. Lazard ranks seventh in the NFL in end zone targets over the last two seasons, a testament to how much Rodgers looks for Lazard in crucial situations. He's also an elite blocker who should help the Jets in the running game.

The Jets look to have a superstar talent in Garrett Wilson, got strong production out of Corey Davis and still have 2021 standout Elijah Moore at receiver, prompting questions as to whether the team needed to add another costly player at the position.

Jets inch closer to Aaron Rodgers trade with Allen Lazard signing

The Jets may see a Lazard signing as essential, and a move that truly puts the team over the top, but it's tough to ignore the alternative motive the team may have had for bringing in Rodgers' favorite target.

New York is reportedly trying to work on a trade for Rodgers, who made it clear Wednesday he wants to play for the team. Rodgers allegedly asked the team to sign Lazard, Randall Cobb, Marcedes Lewis and Odell Beckham Jr. before he commits to the Jets. If that's true, the Jets will take a big step toward convincing Rodgers to join them if Lazard is signed. Rodgers, however, denied he gave the Jets a list of players the team needed to sign.

At the same time, New York still has a lot of work to do on that front. Cobb and Lewis shouldn't cost a ton, but Beckham could demand a fair amount of money. Considering the talent the Jets already have at receiver, it's unclear whether they will continue to spend resources on the position to make Rodgers happy.

Quarterback remains a huge issue for the Jets. With Rodgers, the team could be a Super Bowl contender ... assuming it still has money left to spend on other positions after bringing in all of Rodgers' friends.