Green Bay Packers

What's Next for Jaire Alexander?

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

As a pivotal offseason looms, Aaron Rodgers’ long-awaited decision is stealing all the headlines in Wisconsin. If he splits town, the Green Bay Packers’ decade-long championship window will likely slam shut, barring Jordan Love‘s sudden development. Davante Adams’ return is also uncertain. Although the NFL’s top receiver is likely to receive the franchise tag, Green Bay’s salary cap turmoil is ensuring that even a short-term resolution isn’t guaranteed.

But there’s a third star in Green Bay with an uncertain future, and nobody’s talking about it.

Brian Gutekunst created this quagmire when he traded up to pick Love with the 26th pick in 2020. But his first selection as GM back in 2018 couldn’t have turned out any better. After replacing Ted Thompson almost four years ago, Gutekunst worked the phones at his first draft, moving from 14 down to 27 then leaping back up to 18. He selected Jaire Alexander, a flamboyant corner out of Louisville.

Despite a historically awful secondary, the Packers had somehow made it to the 2017 NFC Championship game. With Ladarius Gunter and his 4.69 40 time leading the charge against Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons’ No. 1 offense, the Packers lost 42-21 in a game that was never particularly close. Pass defense was at the top of the list when Gutekunst took over, and he delivered with Alexander and rookie Eric Stokes, who have brought speed and flair outside the numbers.

Alexander’s potential flashed throughout his rookie season, as did his personality. According to Adams, “He came in with this swag, this personality on the field that we hadn’t really seen around here for a while.”

Green Bay’s rematch against the Falcons was the first major indication of how Alexander was changing the Packers’ secondary. He lined up, undaunted, across from Jones snap after snap. Despite allowing over 100 yards, he held his own against one of the league’s biggest receivers, breaking up passes and getting the crowd riled up even when it was Matt Ryan’s misfires putting the ball on the ground.

It all came together in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Alexander emerged as the league’s top defensive back, with a 90.7 rating.

  • He allowed less than 20 yards in 11 of 17 games
  • Became the first corner since 2006 to allow negative yards in a playoff game (-3 yards allowed vs. Rams)
  • And single-handedly kept the Packers alive in the NFC Championship Game by intercepting Tom Brady twice in the fourth quarter

Alexander’s breakout campaign put him firmly in the mix alongside Jalen Ramsey, Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, and Tre’Davious White as a premier shutdown corner. Adams is one of many to go as far as to call him the league’s best. Alexander has helped transform Green Bay’s defense into a legitimately scary unit and, over his four years, helped Cheeseheads nationwide forget about the days of Gunter, Damarious Randall, and oh my god, we have to go on defense again.

As it stands, Alexander will play the 2022 season on his $13.3 million fifth-year option and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. His long-term extension would require tremendous funding that is unavailable and will likely be going to Rodgers and Adams first if it materializes. Ramsey is currently the highest-paid corner with an average salary of $20 million. Marlon Humphery and Marshon Lattimore aren’t far behind with $19.5 million, and White follows with $17.25 million.

It would likely take a number in the high teens, if not the $20 million that the Rams pay their star, to keep Alexander around for the long haul. After he spent most of this season on injured reserve following a collision with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris, it’s unclear how high Green Bay’s front office will be willing to go.

Something to note is that an extension, even one that makes Alexander the highest-paid corner, could lower his 2022 cap hit. Although his average salary would obviously be greater than his $13 million option, Gutekunst can free up some of that cash now by backloading the deal. Otherwise, it may be time for Packers fans to savor the press conference glasses, unparalleled confidence, and on-field magic for one last season because a premature farewell to one of the NFL’s elite rising stars could be on the horizon.

Green Bay Packers
How the Packers Can Free Up $75 Million In Cap Space Without Cutting Anybody
By Wendell Ferreira - Feb 3, 2023
Green Bay Packers
Why Did the Packers Fail Where the Chiefs Succeeded?
By Matt Hendershott - Feb 3, 2023
Green Bay Packers

Evaluating Hypothetical Rodgers Trade Compensation

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

As we continue our third-annual plunge into speculation, reporting, and tantalizing sound bytes on The Pat McAfee Show, it’s getting less and less fun to talk about […]

Continue Reading