Green Bay Packers

The Jaire Alexander Extension Highlights Gutekunst's 'All-In' Mentality On Defense

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

On Monday, the Green Bay Packers made Jaire Alexander the highest-paid cornerback in the league when they forked over a 4-year, $84 million extension. It keeps the cornerback room — at least the top part of it — intact with Alexander, Eric Stokes, and Rasul Douglas.

The move seemed obvious, but so did a Davante Adams extension, and we all saw how that played out. With Alexander in the picture for the long run, it’s become apparent that the Packers’ front office is taking an all-in approach to its defense.

Everyone who’s anyone thought Green Bay would take at least one wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks in the draft. After trading Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signing with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, the wideout spot became a glaring weakness. Instead, the Packers took two defensive players from a historically great Georgia Bulldogs defense in Round 1.

Kenny Clark has long needed a legitimate sidekick on the interior of the defensive line, and general manager Brian Gutekunst checked that box by selecting Devonte Wyatt.

Inside linebacker has been a need for the Packers, but De’Vondre Campbell earned an All-Pro nod after an incredible 2021 season. It also earned him a huge payday to keep him in town. The Packers selected Georgia inside linebacker Quay Walker with their other first-round pick, even with Campbell back. Suddenly, they had overhauled the two shallowest parts of the defense.

Now Alexander has cashed in, and Green Bay was wise to get a deal done.

It wasn’t necessarily a “pick Davante or Jaire” situation for Green Bay. Adams reportedly wanted to go to Las Vegas. It would’ve been tricky to do some of the financial finagling necessary to keep them both on luxurious extensions, but those were hoops they would’ve jumped through in some form or fashion.

Instead, it’s just the superstar corner coming back.

Green Bay is heavily investing in their defense, even if it may come at a slight cost to the offensive side of the ball. On one side of the coin, it could work out knowing that Aaron Rodgers is at quarterback and can elevate the receivers and offensive players around him. On the flip side, there may still be some worry about whether or not the Packers did enough to address needs on offense this offseason.

The defense was solid under Joe Barry last year, and it shined in the only playoff game Green Bay appeared in. There’s an argument that the defense from a year ago got even better in the offseason.

Alexander will be healthy after missing most of the 2021 season, and now he has the stability of playing on a brand-new contract.

Douglas and Campbell also received well-earned contracts and will be around for years to come. Add in the two rookies selected in the first round, and it’s fair to say the Packers are all-in on their defense.

It’s an interesting strategy to take after years of assuming that surrounding Rodgers with a ton of elite talent on offense would make that side so unstoppable that it would have to result in Super Bowl titles. Green Bay is now loading up the defense as Rodgers enters his age-38 season coming off back-to-back MVP awards. If one method didn’t work, why not flip the script and load up the defense? That’s what the Packers are taking a stab at.

Looking around the landscape of Barry’s defense, you’d be hard-pressed to find any weakness. The corners go three-deep with Alexander, Stokes, and Douglas, while the safety duo of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage provides plenty of comfort.

Preston Smith and Rashan Gary fly off the edges, and Kenny Clark clogs the middle with Campbell roaming about at inside linebacker. Now they’ve added Walker and Wyatt to the mix as well.

The same can’t be said for the offense. Tight end Robert Tonyan‘s timeline to return is still relatively unknown, and it’s anyone’s guess who will start at right tackle after Billy Turner and Dennis Kelly departed. Elgton Jenkins continues to rehab from injury. The No. 1 wide receiver spot is a great mystery. Maybe it will be a committee approach.

The point is, there isn’t a lot of worry about the defense. Matt LaFleur’s offense could turn into a good vibe, but there are a lot of unknowns heading into summer that they’ll hope Rodgers can cover for. Jaire Alexander re-signing and becoming the highest-paid corner in the league is another indication that Green Bay is all-in on the defensive side of the ball as they pursue the Lombardi Trophy.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, De’Vondre Campbell. Three absolute game wreckers on three different levels of the Green Bay Packers’ defense. Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Eric Stokes — the […]

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