GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers on Wednesday announced they have signed cornerback Jaire Alexander to a contract extension.
Terms were not mentioned by the team but the deal, which was reached on Sunday and reported on Monday, will keep Alexander contractually tied to the team through the 2026 season while creating immediate salary-cap relief.
“We are very excited to be able to come to an agreement that keeps Jaire in Green Bay,” general manager Brian Gutekunst in a statement. “He has consistently performed at a high level during his time with the Packers and we look forward to his continued growth as both a player and a leader for this team.”
Alexander, who was scheduled to play under the fifth-year option in 2022, signed a four-year extension worth $21 million per season. That’s the most expensive contract for a cornerback in NFL history but far behind the top-paid receivers.
A first-round pick in 2018, Alexander according to Sports Info Solutions gave up completion rates of 48.5 percent in 2019, 42.3 percent in 2020 and 46.7 percent during his injury-shortened 2021. That’s better than the other two cornerbacks in the $20-million-per-season club. Cleveland’s Denzel Ward allowed 44.3 percent in 2019, 49.3 percent in 2020 and 57.8 percent in 2021 and the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey allowed 62.1 percent in 2019, 46.7 percent in 2020 and 50.0 percent in 2021.
Alexander was named to the All-Rookie team in 2018. In 2020, he became the Packers’ first All-Pro cornerback since Charles Woodson in 2011.
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“I think it’s a great deal for the organization,” defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said on Wednesday. “You’ve got a young man who did a great job for us a couple years ago, and then got injured last year. I think it shows us the organization cares about what he’s done and they expect him to do the same thing he did a couple years ago.”
Voted a team captain by his peers, Alexander missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Sustained in Week 4, Alexander returned to a limited role for the playoff game against San Francisco. He played eight snaps against the 49ers and will be full-go when organized team activities begin next week.
“A lot of times, guys don’t understand when you hurt something and you’ve never been hurt, now that’s mental,” Gray said. “You have to go through the mental gymnastics of getting back. The mental part, that’s the hurdle that every player has to go through that’s hurt, because now he doesn’t want to get hurt again. So, is he going to give you 100 percent when he gets on the football field? Is he going to be timid? What type of guy are you going to get?
“And I think the playoff game gave us a sense that, ‘You know what, he’ll be back and he’ll be ready to go’ because he wasn’t trying to protect himself. That’s the hardest part that football players go through when they’re hurt and then they come back the same season. ‘Are they going to throw the ball at me? Are they going to run at me?’ When you get past the mental part, you’ll go back to being who you are.”
Alexander has five interceptions in four seasons, not including his two picks against Tom Brady in the 2020 NFC Championship Game.
Green Bay’s defense thrived without Alexander last season, thanks in part to the play of first-round pick Eric Stokes and veteran acquisition Rasul Douglas. Douglas re-signed in free agency and Stokes will be a year wiser after being thrust into an extensive role in Year 1, potentially giving the Packers the top cornerback trio in the NFL.
“I’m just looking forward to getting 23 back on the field healthy and back to himself,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said on Tuesday. “I think no one really realizes what he did just to get back for us for the playoff game because he had a major injury. A lot of guys would have just cashed it in and said, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in May.’ He busted his butt to get back and really was not 100 percent. He played his butt off in that playoff game. It goes to show you what kind of character he has, what he’s all about. You talk about football character, Jaire Alexander has it.”
The Too-Early Packers Roster Projection
In (2): Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love.
Out (2): Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling.
Watch out for: Etling, if only because he’s the fresh face and took better care of the football in college than Benkert.
Early viewpoint: There’s no reason to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and it’s hard to see any team wanting to trade for Love.
Pictured: Aaron Rodgers (USA Today Sports Images)
In (3): Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor.
Out (3): Kylin Hill (PUP), B.J. Baylor, Tyler Goodson.
Watch out for: Baylor led the Pac-12 in rushing in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, he forced 57 missed tackles on 227 carries compared to 38 missed tackles on 256 carries by Goodson. Then again, Goodson caught 31 passes with one drop compared to eight catches and two drops by Baylor.
Early viewpoint: Hill suffered a torn ACL at Arizona on Oct. 28. If he’s not ready, who will be the No. 3 back? Taylor perhaps changed the path of his career during the Week 18 game at Detroit, when he rushed 11 times for 53 yards and one touchdown.
Pictured: Patrick Taylor (USA Today Sports Images)
In (7): Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure.
Out (3): Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor, Danny Davis.
Watch out for: The rookies, obviously. The Packers invested heavily at receiver and they’ll need an immediate payoff if they’re going to remain legitimate NFL championship contenders.
Early viewpoint: Watkins, the fourth pick of the 2014 draft and the lone veteran addition to a group sent reeling by the trade of Adams, isn’t a lock to make the roster. The development of the rookies will have a role in determining if Watkins is simply Devin Funchess 2.0. The Packers moved Rico Gafford to cornerback, where he played in college, but he still could get some action at receiver.
Pictured: Chris Blair (USA Today Sports Images)
In (4): Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Tyler Davis, Josiah Deguara.
Out (3): Dominique Dafney, Alize Mack, Eli Wolf.
Watch out for: Davis played 111 snaps last season. While he caught only four passes, Gutekunst said, “I think we might have something there.” Mack, a seventh-round pick by the Saints in 2019, hasn’t played in an NFL game but looked good at the rookie camp.
Early viewpoint: Tonyan suffered a torn ACL at Arizona on Oct. 28. If he’s not ready for Week 1, he should be close so the guess is he’ll make the opening 53. It’s a quality group of role players that really needs Tonyan to return to his 2020 form.
Pictured: Tyler Davis (USA Today Sports Images)
In (8): LT David Bakhtiari, LG Jon Runyan, C Josh Myers, RG Royce Newman, RT Yosh Nijman, T/G Sean Rhyan, OL Zach Tom, T Rasheed Walker.
Out (7): G/T Elgton Jenkins (PUP), C Jake Hanson, C Michal Menet, C Cole Schneider, G George Moore, T Caleb Jones, G/T Cole Van Lanen.
Watch out for: Schneider was a four-year starter at Central Florida who did not allow a sack as a senior. Could he be Lucas Patrick 2.0 as an undrafted free agent who found a home as a versatile interior lineman?
Early viewpoint: The Packers took nine blockers into the regular season last year but the position versatility of Rhyan (at guard and tackle) and Tom (at all five positions) could allow the Packers to save a roster spot for elsewhere. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 21. It’s unlikely he’ll be ready for Week 1 but maybe he’ll be far enough along in his recovery to make the 53.
Pictured: Elgton Jenkins (USA Today Sports Images)
In (5): Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Devonte Wyatt, Jarran Reed, T.J. Slaton.
Out: (4) Jonathan Ford, Jack Heflin, Akial Byers, Hauati Pututau.
Watch out for: It was only a rookie minicamp. And it wasn’t live competition in the trenches. But the 26-year-old Pututau showed his strength by pushing around some of the young offensive linemen.
Early viewpoint: The additions of the veteran Reed and the rookie Wyatt have changed the face of the defensive line. This has the makings of being a really strong unit to join with excellent starters at the other positions.
Pictured: Kenny Clark (USA Today Sports Images)
In (6): Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Kingsley Enagbare, Randy Ramsey, Tipa Galeai.
Out (3): La’Darius Hamilton, Kobe Jones, Chauncey Manac.
Watch out for: As a sixth-year super-senior, Manac recorded 10.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for losses for Louisiana in 2021.
Early viewpoint: Enagbare tested horribly at the Scouting Combine (and even worse at pro day) but he looked athletic enough at rookie camp. If you want a rookie-camp overreaction, Enagbare could be a big-time steal. Ramsey, who missed last season with an ankle injury, and Galeai need to be assets on special teams.
Pictured: Kingsley Enagbare (USA Today Sports Images)
In (5): De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie, Ellis Brooks,
Out (3): Ty Summers, Caliph Brice, Ray Wilborn.
Watch out for: Brooks, a productive starter at Penn State, went undrafted but showed some real potential during rookie camp. His instincts seem on-point and he comes with a reputation for being a hitter.
Early viewpoint: At the top of the depth chart, Campbell and Walker could be superb together. At the bottom of the depth chart, holdovers McDuffie and Summers and youngsters Brooks and Wilborn will battle for the last spot or two.
Pictured: Quay Walker (USA Today Sports Images)
In (6): Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, Shemar Jean-Charles, Keisean Nixon, TBA.
Out (4): Kabion Ento, Rico Gafford, Raleigh Texada, Kiondre Thomas.
Watch out for: Ento seemingly has been in Green Bay for a decade. An undrafted free agent in 2019, he spent 2019 on the practice squad, 2020 on injured reserve and 2021 on the practice squad. A former receiver, his athleticism has stood out on a number of occasions.
Early viewpoint: Maybe Jean-Charles or one of the other young cornerbacks will step to the forefront. But, as it stands now, the depth is perilous. Starting with the trade of Josh Jackson to the Giants for Isaac Yiadom during training camp last summer, Gutekunst tried and tried again to find competent depth. That might be the recipe again.
RELATED: Rico Gafford returns to defense
Pictured: Kabion Ento (USA Today Sports Images)
In (4): Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Tariq Carpenter, Shawn Davis.
Out (3): Vernon Scott, Innis Gaines, Tre Sterling.
Watch out for: Gaines was a great story last summer, having gone from DoorDash to making a dash for the roster. He lost out to Scott for a roster spot, but Scott spent his second NFL season with his butt glued to the bench.
Early viewpoint: The starting duo is tremendous. The depth? Questionable, at best. Carpenter, a seventh-round pick, has the tools. Davis was a fifth-round pick by Indianapolis in 2021 who played in one game for the Packers. Same as last year, if the Packers want to use Savage in the slot, they need to have a competent player to step in at safety.
Pictured: Innis Gaines (USA Today Sports Images)
In (3): K Mason Crosby, P Pat O’Donnell, LS Steven Wirtel.
Out (3): K JJ Molson, K Dominik Eberle, LS Jack Coco.
Watch out for: Whoever the Packers sign to challenge Wirtel.
Early viewpoint: Eberle has experience with new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and boasts a strong leg, but Crosby is the heavy favorite to keep his job after a poor season.
Pictured: Mason Crosby (USA Today Sports Images)