When the Green Bay Packers' mandatory minicamp started on Tuesday, only one face was missing: Allen Lazard.
The wide receiver was not present at Packers practice, head coach Matt LaFleur confirmed Tuesday. Lazard's attendance at minicamp is not technically mandatory and wouldn't lead to potential fines because he has not yet signed the restricted free agent tender that Green Bay used on him earlier this offseason. But his choice to skip the workouts is a strong indication that the wide receiver is waiting for a new long-term contract worth more than his pending one-year deal for just under $4 million.
"We'd love for him to be here," LaFleur said Wednesday. "Obviously, he's been in our system for a couple years, so I don't have any reservations at all about him knowing what to do."
An undrafted free agent, Lazard has steadily increased his production with the Packers since they signed him off Jacksonville's practice squad in 2018. In 2021, he caught 40 passes for 513 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which were career highs. His 513 receiving yards are also the most of any returning Packers' receiver.
After losing Davante Adams to the Raiders earlier in the offseason, the Packers were in need of more talent at the WR position to replace Adams' production. The selections of Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs in the draft and signing of Sammy Watkins partially filled this hole, but more experience is needed in a No. 1 receiver, especially with quarterback Aaron Rodgers' propensity for needing adjustment time with young receivers. Lazard's breakout season and experience with Rodgers could put him in a prime position to take on this role in the offense, meaning that coming to an agreement is of benefit to both Lazard and Green Bay.
Rodgers, however, is not concerned about Lazard's absence, simply saying that he looks forward to getting back on the field with him when the time comes.
"Excited about Allen Lazard," Rodgers said Tuesday after practice. "He's been our dirty work guy for most of his career here. Now he's getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver.
"So, I'm not worried at all about him stepping into that role. I talk to him a lot. I know how he takes care of his body. I know he'll be ready when he's here."