Don’t let the headline fool you. The new contract that Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander signed was well earned. Russ Ball, the man in charge of the Packers contracts, wasn’t a “wizard” on this one. Alexander signed a big-time contract and his play in his first four seasons earned it. However, with the money they have invested, the Green Bay Packers will make sure Jaire Alexander has to earn every dime of it.
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Green Bay Packers Will Make Jaire Alexander Earn Every Dime of New Contract
Certain fans won’t care for this statement. But general manager Brian Gutekunst hasn’t been the best in drafting players. He has had more misses than hits. However, on the shortlist of hits, Jaire Alexander sits on top.
Selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft (18th overall), Jaire Alexander has been what every NFL team wants in a cornerback: fearless, confident, and just flat out good. Alexander’s size isn’t overwhelming, 5’10” and 196 pounds, but he makes up for that with his speed as well as his intelligence. He not only has been the best cornerback on the Green Bay Packers defense, but he is in the discussion of being the best cover cornerback in the NFL.
That is why his new deal, shouldn’t shock anyone. His play, even with the shortened season in 2021 due to an injury, has shown he is worth it. Now that the Packers have locked him up, it’s time to put Jaire Alexander to work. That might mean defensive coordinator Joe Barry asking Alexander to expand his duties.
A Star is Born?
Prior to last season, in Joe Barry’s first as the Packers defensive coordinator, much was written about the “star” position. The star is a hybrid position, part slot/part nickel cornerback/part safety. It’s a position that Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey has thrived at after being traded over from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Barry saw how effective the position and Ramsey were while he was the Rams linebackers coach.
Expectations for the star position in the Packers new defense were high. With Barry coming from the Rams, many expected him to make the star a focal part of his defense. He had some good candidates to play the position. Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage Jr. were at the top of that list. Both are excellent athletes and both have strong coverage ability.
Sadly, neither was able to play the position. Not because they couldn’t, but the Packers defense didn’t have anyone capable of stepping into their starting boundary cornerback or safety spots. Instead, the position fell to 2020 starting nickel cornerback Chandon Sullivan. Sullivan struggled, so much so, that he was allowed to leave via free agency and signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
But now, for Alexander, the Packers have options to step in at his starting boundary cornerback spot. Options that will allow Alexander to step in at the start position and possibly shine.
Douglas and Stokes Manning the Outside
Due to a shoulder injury, Jaire Alexander played in just four games in 2021. The injury not only forced the Green Bay Packers secondary to go without their best cornerback, but it put a major dent in their depth.
The depth issue was hurt even worse with Kevin King once again unable to stay healthy. With King showing he is made out of glass and Alexander out of action, the Packers did find some help. Help that might allow Barry and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray to get their best three cornerbacks on the field at the same time in 2022.
2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas stepped in on the boundary and performed solidly in 2021. Stokes was expected to be brought along slowly, however, with Alexander’s injury and King once again injured, he was forced into action. He had some bumps in the road, but he also showed some promise. Enough promise that Barry could keep him on the outside which would allow Alexander to be the star.
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Gutekunst made up for his botch re-signing of King by his pickup of Rasul Douglas. Signed mid-season from the Arizona Cardinals practice squad, Douglas turned out to be everything that King wasn’t. He was able to stay healthy and he made plays. His play in 2021 earned him a new contract.
With Stokes and Douglas showing they are more than capable of manning the outside, it gives Barry and Gray, the pass game coordinator, options. The biggest option is putting Alexander at the star which would allow the Packers to have three very solid cornerbacks on the field at the same time.
No Stranger to the Inside
Jaire Alexander isn’t a stranger to lining up in the slot. He did it at Louisville some and in his first season with the Packers and he did it as well. Making the move shouldn’t be difficult for him.
When a player is great, no matter the position, they figure out a way to perform exceptionally. If Stokes doesn’t keep trending upwards, or Douglas turns out to be a one-year wonder, Alexander could return to the boundary. But if both can hold down the outside, there isn’t much doubt that Alexander will excel on the inside.
Jaire Alexander’s new deal makes him a wealthy man. But in return, it could help the Green Bay Packers secondary be one of the best in the NFL in 2022.
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