The Cleveland Browns seemingly reset the cornerback market following their contract extension with Denzel Ward yesterday. The 5-year extension is reportedly worth $100.5 million for the 24-year-old first-round pick. Is now the time for the Green Bay Packers to extend Jaire Alexander as well?
The Packers drafted Alexander out of Louisville with the number 18 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Since that time, he has quickly risen to among the best cornerbacks in the game today. Showing impressive play throughout his rookie and sophomore seasons, Alexander broke out in a big way in 2020.
In 2020, the Louisville product earned a Pro-Bowl selection, as well as second-team All-Pro honors. Many around the league also felt he was snubbed of first-team All-Pro honors.
Heading into 2021, expectations for Alexander were incredibly high. Injuries plagued the fourth year CB, and limited him to just four games last season.
2022 will be the final year of Alexander’s rookie deal. While the two sides have been in talks of an extension since March, there has been no deal. This off-season has been filled with restructuring deals, extensions, cuts, and more to strategically maneuver the salary cap nightmare the Packers found themselves in.
Denzel Ward’s deal comes on the heels of Jalen Ramsey signing a similar five-year, $100 million contract with the Rams in 2020. The market has clearly been set with an AAV of $20m per season for a shutdown top corner in the league. Is this a price the Packers can justify paying a player fresh off an injury-plagued season?
There is no questioning the high-end skillset of Alexander. Nor is there a question that he warrants a payday similar to these two other top players. The question therein lies if it is in the Packers’ best interest to be the team that pays him.
The Packers drafted Eric Stokes in the first round of last years draft. This off-season, Brian Gutekunst made resigning Rasul Douglas a priority. These moves provided Green Bay with high-quality depth at the cornerback position. Is dedicating that much of the salary cap to Alexander a priority for this team at the moment, or would they be wiser to invest that capital elsewhere.
One factor that may be affecting this decision is the recent emergence of Rashan Gary. The Plainfield, NJ native was taken twelve overall in the 2019 draft. The playoff performance of Gary in January shows that a breakout is coming. Next off-season the Packers may be in the same situation with considering an extension for the young linebacker as well.
While Packers fans would love to see both Gary and Alexander in Green Bay for the long haul, Brian Gutekunst may very well need to make a difficult decision. In today’s NFL the premier pass rusher is the more important of the two roles.
Zach has been a lifelong Packers fan since his earliest memories of Brett Favre\\\'s Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXXII. A proud shareholder of the team, he bleeds Green and Gold despite being born and raised in New Jersey. You can follow him on twitter at @RapMasterZach.