Jaire Alexander has become one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL over his first four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Now, he has the paycheck to reflect it.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers have signed Alexander to a four-year, $84 million contract extension that makes him the league’s highest-paid defensive back in terms of average annual value and keeps him tied to the franchise through the 2026 season. Alexander’s new deal also includes a signing bonus of $30 million which is also a new high mark for NFL defensive backs.
Alexander only played four games in 2021 after injuring his shoulder in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he was arguably the best cornerback in the NFL in 2020 when opponents caught less than 51% of the 69 targets thrown into his coverage and he broke up 13 passes on his way to second-team All-Pro honors. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the highest-graded cornerback in single coverage since 2019.
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New Deal Lowers Alexander’s Cap Hit in 2022
Alexander’s new deal will pay him an average of $21 million per season and puts him nearly a million ahead of Denzel Ward ($20.1 million) and Jalen Ramsey ($20 million), who are the next-highest-paid cornerbacks behind him. Ward and Ramsey are still the top two in terms of total contract value with Alexander checking in at No. 6 on the list behind Marlon Humphrey ($97.5 million), Marshon Lattimore ($97 million) and Xavien Howard ($90 million).
Schefter also added that Alexander will have a base salary of just $1.076 million for the 2022 season in order to reduce his cap number as much as possible. He was previously set to earn close to $13.3 million in 2022 on the fifth-year option in his rookie deal and will now free up additional cap space for the team with his new deal signed, but it remains to be seen just how much space the Packers will gain.
Packers Continue to Reward Own Defenders
There was never much of a question about whether the Packers would re-sign Alexander. Timing was the only thing missing from the equation, as general manager Brian Gutekunst indicated before the start of the 2022 NFL draft.
“He’s such a big part of what we’re doing,” Gutekunst said during his pre-draft press conference on April 25 when asked if the Packers were making an extension for Alexander a priority. “He’s been such a good player for us since the day he kind of arrived. We’d love for that to happen. Certainly, we’ve been in communication with his representation and we will continue to be as we go through the year.”
Now, with nearly four months to go until the start of the new season, the Packers have locked down yet another important part of their defense for the long-term future. They also moved to bring back All-Pro inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (five years, $50 million) and cornerback Rasul Douglas (three years, $24 million) in free agency and invested both of their first-round picks on the defenders, giving them one of the most talent-loaded defensive rosters since Gutekunst took over as GM in 2018.
The Packers have certainly done the work to build one of the finest secondaries in the league. Along with paying Alexander and Douglas, they also have Eric Stokes looking to make a big second-year leap after a standout rookie season in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, Stokes forced the most incompletions (nine) among rookie cornerbacks in 2021 and allowed the lowest receiving percentage (51%) when targetted among rookie corners who played at least 50% of snaps on the year.
The Packers also have veteran Adrian Amos and former first-round pick Darnell Savage — who had his 2023 fifth-year option picked up in early May — returning as their starting safeties to hold down the deep field. While there are questions that need to be answered about the backups at both cornerback and safety over the next few months, the starting lineup could be truly elite in 2022.