The veteran linebacker had been weighing his options for quite some time after the Jets supposedly made him an offer near the start of June. Almost two months later, the seven-year NFL pro finally accepted and the terms were very affordable.
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Reported Terms of Alexander Signing
The morning after the signing was announced (July 29), NYJ beat reporter Connor Hughes revealed the financial details of the agreement. “Kwon Alexander’s one-year deal with the Jets is worth $1.12m and came with a $152,500 signing bonus,” he tweeted.
Adding later that Alexander’s “cap hit will be $895k + signing bonus.” A grand total of $1.0475 million.
Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania commented on the deal just after the announcement by Hughes: “Less than the numbers earned this offseason by Jarrad Davis ($1.19m) and Neville Hewitt ($1.95m). Another Joe Douglas W.”
There’s no doubt about it, this is a phenomenal value for a former Pro Bowler that’s only 27 years old and was once offered $54 million. The reason for the lack of guarantees and total money is Alexander’s injury history.
The linebacker has not played a full season since 2016 — his second year in the league — and that was the only healthy campaign of his career. In 2021, he appeared in 12 games for the New Orleans Saints, starting in eight.
Alexander accumulated 50 total tackles (seven for a loss), 3.5 sacks, one interception, two passes defended, one fumble forced and another recovered, and seven QB hits. A solid season, all things considered, which begs the question of how he’ll be utilized reuniting with Jets head coach Robert Saleh in New York.
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Camp Battle, or Shift in Strategy?
In year one of Saleh’s defensive system, the Jets only fielded two linebackers for roughly 35% of snaps — on a good day. That stems from NFL offenses using three wide receivers in the modern era more often than not, which explains nickelback Michael Carter II’s high snap share of 65.26% in 2021.
So, with the addition of Alexander — who will be C.J. Mosley’s partner in crime and as a byproduct, who will play the third fiddle to the starting pair?
That’s a very interesting question because, on paper, Alexander makes more sense as the sub linebacker that plays in passing situations and that’s generally the guy that’s going to see more action. Having said that, the coaching staff has hyped Quincy Williams as a starter ready to take the next step in development.
Nania tweeted out some statistical analytics on Alexander on July 29. Over the past three seasons, the veteran coverage expert ranked seventh or better in yards per reception allowed in zone coverage among NFL linebackers. His top ranking was fourth overall in 2020 (7.2-yard average).
Of course, there’s another scenario where Williams and Alexander both see the field a fair amount — a shift in strategy. The Jets were often burned by the run game last season, especially when Carter was out there.
The promising nickel’s greatest flaw so far has been his run defense, with a grade of 40.4 according to Pro Football Focus. The Jets love Carter and he’s reportedly “firmly entrenched” as the starter in the slot, but perhaps Gang Green alters this philosophy in 2022, utilizing more three-linebacker sets now that they have three experienced players to choose from.
The Athletic’s new NYJ beat reporter Zack Rosenblatt wrote this about Alexander’s expected role:
The Jets desperately needed depth at linebacker, so that’s what Alexander will be expected to provide. C.J. Mosley (168 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles in 2021) and Quincy Williams (110 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles) are already a solid, productive pair and locked in as the starters. The other options behind them are a little less inspiring: Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen and [Marcell] Harris. Alexander will likely slot in behind Williams as the backup on the weak side.
Mosley and Williams should still be expected to get the lion’s share of snaps, but keep an eye on Carter and whether or not Alexander pushes him for playing time as a bigger tackler that can still cover when needed. No matter what the Jets decide, this is certainly a good problem to have.