The Green Bay Packers didn’t want another Davante Adams situation on their hands. That’s why they made Jaire Alexander the richest defensive back in NFL history.
Alexander signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension that will keep him in Green Bay through his 29-year-old season. ESPN reported for the first time. It’s a fitting reward for a player who went All-Pro in 2020 while giving up a measly 4.7 yards per target. It was also a signal that general manager Brian Gutekunst is, and is not, willing to learn from the Packers’ past.
Adams left Wisconsin after eight seasons and five Pro Bowl selections as a Packer. The official reason for leaving by trade with the Las Vegas Raiders was to achieve a lifelong dream by putting on black and silver and team up with his former quarterback at Fresno State, Derek Carr.
Unofficially, that’s because he couldn’t find a timely extension before the four-year, $58 million deal he signed in 2017 expired. Negotiations between the two sides exploded in 2021, leading Green Bay to award him the franchise tag for 2022. When it became clear that Adams would not re-sign long-term, even at a the price would be higher than the average annual salary of $ 28 million that Vegas ended up payingGutekunst had no recourse but to send his star west and recoup some of his value in a deal with the Raiders.
Handing Alexander a Market Reset Contract ensures this won’t happen again with another local achievement (at least not in 2023). Although his new contract will earn him nearly a million dollars more per year than any other cornerback or safety in the league, he will do so in fewer years than the Cleveland Browns gave Denzel Ward as part of his five-year, $100 million deal. More specifically, it will be would have come with a guaranteed salary significantly lower than many of its peers despite eye-catching overall numbers.
Top money in practical guarantees, current NFL cornerbacks/safeties, by Spotrac:
- Neighborhood, Cleveland Browns: $71.25 million
- Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams: $71.2 million
- Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens: $67.3 million
- Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints: $58.1 million
- Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills: $55.3 million
The numbers aren’t final thanks to the still-reported status of Alexander’s deal, but he’ll rank seventh on this list if Josina Anderson’s report of $45 million in guarantees paid in 2022 and 2023 is correct. :
[2/2] I’m also told that the $31 million Jaire Alexander gets in 2022 (a figure basically combining his 5th year option of $13.3 million + his estimated 2023 tag figure) forces the team to keep him at- beyond next season. After earning $45 million through year two, there is no more guaranteed money.
– IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) May 16, 2022
That’s pretty reasonable for a PFF-rated player like the best cornerback in the league in 2020. That’s only about $10 million more than Derek Stingley Jr. — the third pick in the April draft — will earn in the first four years of his rookie contract.
Alexander’s deal wipes a sizable chunk of the $13 million-plus owed to him in 2022 from the team’s salary cap.
Jaire Alexander’s base salary this year will be $1.076 million to get his lowest possible cap this season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 16, 2022
The Packers had just under $11 million to spend under the 2022 salary cap before extending Alexander, by Over the Cape. That should bump them up to around $17 million to spend this season. With a lingering market for veteran offensive linemen capable of serving as stopgap options (Daryl Williams, JC Tretter, Billy Price, Ereck Flowers), veteran wides capable of adding depth (Odell Beckham Jr., Will Fuller , Emmanuel Sanders) and viable defenders (Akiem Hicks, Trey Flowers, Anthony Barr), Green Bay can be more adventurous when sifting through the bargain basket of remaining free agents.
Unfortunately for Gutekunst, the money saved in 2022 will land in future years where his side aren’t exactly flush with the spending. The Packers only had about $12 million to spend next offseason before their Alexander extension. They should have the seventh worst ceiling space in 2024 regardless of the money that will be owed to Alexander. There’s no chance of a style spending spree 2019 in the foreseeable future. That’s what the Packers will be for the next two to four seasons, except for cheap veterans who outperform their contracts and rookies picked up in the draft.
That lack of cap space and stalled future contributed to Adams’ departure when the team refused to give him DeAndre Hopkins-like money before the 2021 season. coming. The team’s most important pending free agent for 2023 is either Adrian Amos, Dean Lowry or Allen Lazard – each of the significant contributors, but none of them would devastate the roster if Gutekunst could not find the funds to re-sign them.
Things get tougher in 2024 when players like Rashad Gary, Darnell Savage, AJ Dillon and Elgton Jenkins are about to hit free agency. Luckily, there’s more wiggle room against an expanding cap two years from now and, as the New Orleans Saints have shown time and time again, you can always restructure contracts to negate your salary commitments a year from now. or two.
There’s also the fact that Gutekunst has been very good at finding playmakers recently. De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas each played at the Pro Bowl level in 2021 despite being signed long after the offseason’s free agent rush and at very cheap prices. Ricky Wagner was a key part of the second-best offensive line in the league after signing an inexpensive deal in 2020. Draft shots under Gutekunst include Alexander, Gary, Savage, Dillon, Jenkins, Jon Runyan and Eric Stokes.
By extending Alexander to save money at his position, Gutekunst sends a signal that he can continue to turn underrated players into assets. Paying Aaron Rodgers $50 million a year kind of meant he would still have to do it if he was going to keep the stars of his perennial playoff team lined up. The Packers, without Adams, will go back and try again despite a litany of playoff disappointments littering their short-term memory.
Given the alternative – another winning start now from a decidedly winning team now – it was the only strategy that made much sense. The Packers have an opportunity to continue their regular season reign over a depleted NFC. A healthy Alexander is an important part of that.
Now he is under contract for four more years at a reasonable number. It’s a win for Green Bay and Gutekunst. Now they need Alexander to help them secure some meaningful playoff wins.