The Green Bay Packers signed cornerback Jaire Alexander to a four-year contract extension worth a reported $84 million on Monday. That locks up the former first-round pick out of Louisville through the 2026 season.
Alexander is considered one of the top cover corners in the NFL. He earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2020 campaign despite intercepting only one pass all season.
In 2021, Alexander was injured in the Packers Week 4 win over the Steelers when he tackled Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris. The shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the regular season. Alexander returned for the Packers playoff game against San Francisco but played only a handful of snaps.
Here are five things that result from the signing of Alexander to this new extension.
- Alexander Is Now the Highest Paid Cornerback of All Time
The Packers knew Alexander wanted to be the highest paid cornerback of all time and he got his wish. The deal makes Ja’Money an average salary of $21 million per year, slightly more than the $20.1 per year the Browns are paying Denzel Ward and the $20.0 million the Rams pay Jalen Ramsey.
The deal includes a $30 million signing bonus which is not the biggest signing bonus among cornerbacks. Both Ward and Ramsey got more guaranteed money as part of their deals but are not getting as much money per season over the course of their respective contracts.
- The Packers Get Cap Relief for 2022
As part of the new contract, Alexander is earning a base salary of just $1.076 million this season. With his $30 million signing bonus, he will earn more than $31 million in 2022.
By taking a lower base salary in 2022 and because his signing bonus is spread out over the length of his contract for cap purposes, the Packers will save a little more than $6 million in cap savings this season.
If Alexander would have played under his fifth-year option, he would have counted almost $13.3 million against the cap.
- The Extra Money Gives the Packers a Chance to Sign Another Free Agent
The Packers can put the extra $6 million in cap space to good use. Before signing Alexander, the team had an estimated $10.8 million in cap space for the coming season. They still have a few more draft picks to sign and Allen Lazard has yet to sign his tender offer for 2022.
The extra $6 million can help the Packers add a moderately-priced free agent this season and to add additional free agents during the season once injuries strike. Last year, the Packers added players like De’Vondre Campbell and Dennis Kelly before training camp started and Rasul Douglas and Whitney Mercilus during the season. All four helped the team at various times during the year.
Now the Packers will have more cap space to make another addition be it a veteran swing tackle, edge rusher, depth safety or wide receiver.
- The Packers Avoid a Holdout and Keep Alexander’s Contagious Attitude In the Locker Room
By signing Alexander to an extension, the Packers avoided a repeat of the problem they had with Davante Adams where Adams grew unhappy with the progress on his contract extension and eventually decided he wanted out of Green Bay.
There were rumors that Alexander may have stayed away from OTAs had no deal been reached. That potential disruption has been avoided.
More important, the Packers get four more years of Alexander and the leadership and confidence he brings to the locker room. Alexander is brash and his attitude is contagious and makes the other players on the field around him more confident as well.
One of the team’s leaders on defense is locked up for the next four seasons and that’s a good thing for the Packers who will have Alexander for the rest of his prime. Jaire will be 30 when his contract expires.
- The Packers Top 3 Corners Are Now Under Contract
With Alexander’s extension taken care of, the Packers now have their top three cornerbacks under contract for at least the next three seasons. Rasul Douglas just signed a three-year deal after the Packers traded Davante Adams. Second-year man Eric Stokes has three years left on his rookie contract and the Packers have a team option for one more year after that and now Alexander is under contract through 2026.
This gives the Packers three talented corners. Alexander and Stokes have elite speed while Douglas is a positionally sound ball hawk. The three of them give the Pack the ability to limit opposing passing games.
Alexander held opposing quarterbacks to a paltry 51.3 percent completion rate when throwing to receivers covered by Alexander in his last full season (2020) according to pro-football-reference.com. In his rookie year, Stokes held opposing quarterbacks to a 49.5 percent completion percentage while Douglas held them to 50 percent in 2021.
Alexander has the versatility to play the slot or on the boundary. He will probably be moved around depending on the matchups in any given game or play.
The Packers appear to be set at cornerback for the foreseeable future. More depth may be needed behind the “Big Three” but the Packers top three corners can be compared favorably to any other trio in the league.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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