Jaire Alexander

Packers Rumors: Rodgers, Love, Lazard

We are now 10 days away from the start of the 2023 league year, and there is still no clarity on the Aaron Rodgers situation. In February, a report surfaced indicating that the Packers’ entire power structure is “done with Rodgers” and ready to turn the QB reins over to Jordan Love, while a subsequent report suggested that Green Bay would be amenable to a Rodgers return if the 10-time Pro Bowler is “fully bought in.”

Rodgers’ “darkness retreat,” in which he spent a few days in isolation to consider his future, concluded sometime in the middle of February, but at the end of the month, GM Brian Gutekunst said that he had not yet spoken with Rodgers aside from a few text messages (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). And, as Demovsky noted, Gutekunst was noncommittal when asked who his 2023 QB1 will be, which is notable in light of his unequivocally stating in December that he wanted Rodgers back and then deferring to Rodgers’ four MVP honors when asked in January which of his top two passers gives the club the best chance to win.

As of now, the beginning of free agency on March 15 remains the soft deadline for Rodgers to make a decision as to whether he wants to retire, return to the Packers, or be traded, though Gutekunst is still not pushing the franchise icon to clarify his intentions.

Now for more from Titletown:

  • In the same piece linked above, Gutekunst is quoted as saying that he has not had any specific trade talks concerning Rodgers. We did hear last month that the Jets had “inquired” on Rodgers’ availability, though technically speaking, such an inquiry may not qualify as “trade talks” if actual compensation was not discussed.
  • Also in Demovsky’s piece, Gutekunst reiterated his belief that Love is ready to be a starting quarterback, and as Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com (subscription required) writes, many current Packers players believe the same, just as the team knew Rodgers was ready to take up the mantle from Brett Favre in 2008. All of the Rodgers-related reports that have surfaced in 2023 lend credence to the notion that, while Green Bay may be open to one more year with Rodgers at the helm, it may actually prefer to trade him and begin life with Love.
  • Moving away from the Packers’ quarterbacks room, free agent-to-be WR Allen Lazard told SiriusXM NFL Radio last month that his agent has had some discussions with team brass about a new contract, but at this point, it sounds as if Lazard will have a chance to test his luck on the open market (audio link). With Davante Adams no longer in the picture, Lazard became more of a focal point of the Green Bay offense in 2022, setting career bests in targets (100), receptions (60), and yards (788). His 60% reception rate was a career low, though Rodgers has said, if he returns to the Packers in 2023, he would want the team to re-sign Lazard.
  • Another of Rodgers’ favorite targets, WR Randall Cobb, recently underwent ankle surgery, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Cobb, 32, is out of contract, though if he chooses to play in 2023, he will be able to do so without pain.
  • The Packers recently restructured the contracts of a few high-profile players for salary cap purposes. Per Rapoport, cornerback Jaire Alexander and edge defender Preston Smith both agreed to reworked deals that will open up a little more than $16MM of cap space (Twitter link). Demovsky passes along some details (Twitter links), pointing out that the team added a void year (2027) to the back end of both contracts.
  • Likewise, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that the Packers converted roughly $13.8MM of DT Kenny Clark‘s 2023 pay into a signing bonus, thereby opening up a little over $11MM in cap room. Demovsky again offers a complete breakdown of the restructure (via Twitter).

Latest On Packers’ Secondary

The strength of the Packers’ re-tooled defense figures to be its secondary. While depth could be a question mark, the starting unit features a number of former first-rounders and effective veterans. Which five players are in line to see the field full-time isn’t a concern heading into training camp, but how they are aligned could be. 

As detailed by The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman (subscription required), Green Bay is set to use Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas as their top three corners. The latter enjoyed a late-blossoming breakout campaign last season, recording a career-high five interceptions. That performance earned him a three-year, $21MM contract in free agency.

The group will still be led, of course, by Alexander; the Pro Bowler became the league’s all-time highest-paid corner (in terms of AAV) when he signed an $84MM extension which will keep him in place through 2026. He and Stokes in particular figure to serve as a foundation on the backend for the foreseeable future, along with, in all likelihood, safety Darnell Savage Jr. 

An important question Schneidman raises is the matter of who mans the slot when each of the top five defenders (the aforementioned four players, along with safety Adrian Amos) are healthy. DBs coach Jerry Gray indicated that any of the starting corners or Savage could find themselves in the role. “There’s a lot of action at the nickel,” he said. “[A]nd everybody wants to be in the action.”

As Schneidman notes, different players would be better suited to shift inside at different points, depending on individual circumstances. Ultimately, though, the health of the secondary’s top five members will be the most important factor in the defense’s success, given the distinct lack of known commodities lower on the depth chart. How the unit shakes out at camp will be worth watching in the lead-up to what the Packers hope will be another Super Bowl run.

Contract Details: Alexander, Moreau

Here are the details on several recently-signed contracts:

  • Jaire Alexander, CB (Packers): Four years, $84MM. $30MM signing bonus (previously reported). Base salary of $1.076MM in 2022 creates manageable cap charge of $7.076MM. Base salaries remain modest in 2023-24 ($1.2MM and $6.65MM), but roster bonuses ($11.45MM due on third day of 2023 league year, $8MM due on third day of 2024 league year) are significant. Cap charge increases to $20MM in 2023. Base salaries increase to $16.15MM in 2025 and $18.15MM in 2026. Each year from 2023-26 includes weekly roster bonuses of up to $650K, workout bonuses of $700K, and $250K Pro Bowl escalator (Twitter thread via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Fabian Moreau, CB (Texans): One year, $2MM. $1MM guaranteed ($350K signing bonus, $650K of $1.4MM salary). Up to $250K in weekly roster bonuses. $500K in available incentives (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network).

NFC North Notes: Vikings Front Office Hire, Hundley, Jones, Alexander

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a noteworthy addition to his staff earlier this week. The team announced the hiring of Demitrius Washington as their new vice president of football operations.

Washington had spent seven years with the 49ers, a stretch which overlapped with Adofo-Mensah’s time in that organization. For the past two seasons, Washington served as San Francisco’s director of research and development, the same title Adofo-Mensah held with the Browns prior to his hire. The pair will now reunite and, along with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, oversee the franchise’s transition from the previous Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer regime.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North, starting with one more from Minnesota:

  • The Vikings brought in veteran backup quarterback Brett Hundley as a tryout during rookie minicamp, but they made it clear they would not be signing him, as noted by Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 28-year-old hasn’t made a regular season appearance since 2019, most recently spending time with the Colts. Minnesota’s QB room currently consists of Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley.
  • The Bears used one of their 11 picks in last month’s draft to add to its receiving corps, selecting Velus Jones in the third round. The team is high on his speed and versatility, leading to the new coaching staff having “big plans” for the 25-year-old. “Let’s start out at receiver and then let’s see what he can do, moving him around to different spots and getting him the ball, because he is an explosive athlete” head coach Matt Eberflus said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. After transferring from USC to Tennessee, Jones produced both on offense and special teams, recording 807 receiving yards and leading the SEC in both punt and kick return yardage in 2021.
  • An interesting note came out in the aftermath of Jaire Alexander‘s record-breaking extension with the Packers. USA Today’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler specifically wanted a four-year (rather than five-year) deal. He got just that, helping him to break the record briefly held by Denzel Ward for the highest annual average amongst cornerbacks at $21MM per season, and keeping him under contract through 2026.

Packers Finalizing Extension With Jaire Alexander

The Packers signed one of their stars to a massive extension earlier this offseason with Aaron Rodgers. They have done so again with cornerback Jaire Alexander. The team is extending him on a four-year, $84MM contract (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter). 

As Schefter notes, the deal includes a $30MM signing bonus, which is a record for corners and will allow him to earn $31MM in 2022. Overall, the annual average of $21MM per year represents another high-mark at the position, and makes him the third CB to eclipse the $20MM-per-season plateau (along with Jalen Ramsey and Denzel Ward).

While those numbers are high, only Alexander’s signing bonus is guaranteed. Among cornerbacks, Alexander agreed to deal that slots him only 12th in terms of fully guaranteed money. That said, the Pro Bowl cornerback should be expected to be with the Packers for a while. His 2025 and ’26 base salaries, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, jump to $16.2MM and $18.2MM, respectively. Alexander’s deal also includes an $8MM roster bonus in 2024. This transaction continues the Packers’ pattern of not guaranteeing any money to a non-quarterback beyond the first year, Florio adds, noting only they and the Bengals still use this old-school method.

A first round pick in 2018, Alexander has been an immediate starter and anchor of the team’s secondary since his arrival. He was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in 2020, leading to increased optimism for this past season. The 25-year-old was limited to just four regular season games due to a shoulder injury, however. With the team having picked up his fifth-year option, it was already a guarantee he would be suiting up for Green Bay for at least the 2022 campaign.

The two sides began negotiations on a long-term extension this offseason, one which saw plenty of other notable moves being made by the team to try and stay competitive while remaining cap compliant. It came out not long after free agency began that the Louisville product was seeking a deal which would place him at the top of the CB market. This news confirms that he has accomplished that goal.

Schefter adds that Alexander’s cap number will be lowered in 2022 by virtue of his base salary being valued at just over $1MM. That will help the Packers absorb another record-breaking contract as they try to extend their Super Bowl window. Alexander will remain with the team through 2026 at the head of a secondary also featuring the likes of Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos.

NFC North Notes: Alexander, Bears, Lions

The Packers were unable to reach an extension agreement with Davante Adams, leading to a blockbuster trade following a franchise tag. Brian Gutekunst would prefer the Jaire Alexander process conclude before a potential Alexander tag comes into play. The fifth-year Packers GM said the team “would love” to extend Alexander this offseason, via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman (on Twitter). Gutekunst confirmed the Packers and Alexander are in talks, which became known earlier this month, and said the discussions could continue throughout the year. Alexander finds himself in an interesting position, coming off a season a shoulder injury mostly nullified. But the one-time Pro Bowler is still eyeing a top-market extension. Alexander figures to face a decision on playing out a contract year ahead of a potential tag or taking long-term security — at likely a slightly lower price — before the season.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Larry Ogunjobi was onboard with the Bears for fewer than five days, with the team nixing the defensive tackle’s deal due to a failed physical. New Bears GM Ryan Poles is open to agreeing to another contract with Ogunjobi, per ESPN.com’s Courney Cronin, who notes the failed physical stemmed from the former Browns and Bengals D-lineman’s surgically repaired right foot (Twitter link). Ogunjobi suffered a foot injury during the Bengals’ wild-card win. Poles noted the Bears’ deal with Ogunjobi prevented them from adding other free agents during the legal tampering period, per Adam Jahns of The Athletic (subscription required).
  • Viewing Trevor Siemian as a better fit in the offense Luke Getsy is installing, Poles said (via Jahns) he hopes a Nick Foles trade emerges in the near future. But nothing is on the horizon, continuing this holding pattern for the former Super Bowl MVP. Foles is due a $4MM base salary in 2022, the final year of his contract. Foles has the Bears’ fourth-largest cap number ($10.7MM); a trade would let the Bears off the hook for Foles’ salary but still hand the team a $6MM-plus dead-money charge.
  • Although the Bears gutted their front seven by trading Khalil Mack, cutting Danny Trevathan and not re-signing Akiem Hicks, Poles said the team is not planning to move on from Robert Quinn. No Quinn trade scenario has come up, Poles said (via Jahns, on Twitter). Quinn’s $17.1MM cap figure is the largest on the Bears’ 2022 payroll. Despite going into his age-32 season, Quinn boosted his trade value last year by breaking Richard Dent‘s franchise single-season sack record.
  • Prior to Chandon Sullivan‘s Vikings agreement, the Packers made a late push to keep him, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Sullivan spent the past three seasons with the Packers, who have a need at slot cornerback thanks to his defection to a division rival. The Broncos also pursued Sullivan but signed K’Waun Williams days before news of Sullivan’s Vikings agreement surfaced.
  • The Lions will primarily use a 4-3 defense next season, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Detroit started last season by changing to a 3-4 look, but Aaron Glenn‘s unit adjusted a bit down the stretch. Prior to last season, the Lions had used a 4-3 look for many years.

Packers CB Jaire Alexander Seeking Top-Of-The-Market Extension

Following the Aaron Rodgers extension, the Davante Adams trade, and a host of other moves, the Packers currently possess a little more than $15MM in cap space, per OverTheCap.com. Of course, Green Bay still needs to maintain sufficient room to sign its rookie class and make in-season transactions, and as Matt Schneidman of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, the club might be interested in a free agent wide receiver like Odell Beckham Jr.  or Will Fuller now that Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are out of the picture.

In other words, the Packers would still like to create more cap room, and per Schneidman, the most obvious way to achieve that goal would be to extend cornerback Jaire Alexander. As we heard earlier this month, Green Bay and Alexander’s camp have engaged in negotiations on a long-term pact.

One potential snag is that, according to Schneidman, Alexander is seeking a contract that would make him the highest-paid corner in the league. Currently, Rams CB Jalen Ramsey is the clubhouse leader in terms of both AAV ($20MM) and practical guarantees ($71.2MM).

Alexander, a member of the 2018 All-Rookie team who had established himself as a quality starter over his first two years in the league, had a breakout in 2020, earning his first Pro Bowl nod and Second Team All-Pro recognition. The advanced analytics at Pro Football Focus supported those honors with a tremendous 90.5 overall grade, and Green Bay made the easy decision to exercise Alexander’s fifth-year option for the 2022 season, which guarantees him a $13.3MM salary.

Unfortunately, Alexander played in just four regular season games in 2021 thanks to an October shoulder injury, and while he did return for Green Bay’s lone postseason contest, he appeared in just eight snaps in the Packers’ snowy upset at the hands of the 49ers. So while it stands to reason that he would shoot for the moon based on his career trajectory up to the 2021 campaign, it also makes sense that the team is uncomfortable authorizing a Ramsey-esque contract at this point.

If Alexander wants top-of-the market money, he may have to wait until next offseason and turn in a fully-healthy 2022 season reminiscent of his 2020 efforts. If he is willing to sacrifice a bit of earning potential in exchange for a lesser contract that will still provide him with a significant amount of guaranteed money, perhaps he and the Packers can find some middle ground in the coming weeks.

Packers Negotiating Extension With Jaire Alexander

The Packers have a number of decisions to make to get under the salary cap in time for the start of free agency. One way they could create some room for the 2022 season – and make a long-term commitment to a major piece of their defense in the process – is signing cornerback Jaire Alexander to an extension. 

As Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith writes, that could take place soon. The Packers are engaged in talks for a “long-term” deal, something that wouldn’t come as a surprise given the 25-year-old’s level of play in his career. He entered the 2021 campaign with Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro honors already to his name, although the 2022 season didn’t go as planned.

Due to a shoulder injury suffered in October, Alexander was limited to four games played. He registered 13 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups, while maintaining his high-end coverage performance. For his career, he has 188 total tackles, five picks and 44 pass breakups.

A first rounder in 2018, Alexander is currently slated to play the 2022 season on his fifth year option. Without a new deal, he will earn a guaranteed $13.3MM – a figure which would represent a comparative bargain given where he ranks amongst the league’s top corners, but that the Packers could try to lower for short-term breathing room. For that reason, Smith notes, any new pact would likely involve more money paid as a signing bonus spread over the length of the contract.

A new deal doesn’t have to get done for Alexander to play in 2022, but doing so sooner rather than later would have benefits for both team and player in this case. In any event, the Packers still have a long way to go to reach cap compliance, so more moves of some kind will be forthcoming.

David Bakhtiari Not Playing Vs. Niners

Nine-year veteran tackle David Bakhtiari missed nearly the entire 2021 NFL season after tearing his ACL on New Year’s Eve during the 2020 season. Unfortunately, he will have to continue waiting to play in his first playoff game since January of 2019, as the team announced, via Twitter, that he will be inactive for tonight’s game against the 49ers. 

Bakhtiari had made a return for the Packers’ regular season finale, making the start in Detroit, but only playing 40% of the team’s offensive snaps. Head Coach Matt LaFleur shook off the early exit in a postgame press conference stating, “I wouldn’t say it’s anything we’re concerned about,” but it appears some continual discomfort throughout the week will keep the two-time All Pro from making a postseason return, just yet.

In the absence of Bakhtiari this year, the Packers have employed Elgton Jenkins at the blindside tackle position. Despite the reshuffled offensive line and several other injuries to key players, Green Bay still secured a first-round bye and homefield advantage. They will work tonight to extend their season another week and give Bakhtiari at least one more chance for a postseason return.

Other inactives for the Packers listed for the game tonight were safeties Shawn Davis & Vernon Scott, linebacker Jonathan Garvin, and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The 49ers will be without cornerbacks Ambry Thomas & Deommodore Lenoir, safety Jarrod Wilson, running back Trey Sermon, linebacker Marcell Harris, offensive lineman Jaylon Moore, and defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. Packers’ cornerback Jaire Alexander is expected to play tonight after being listed as questionable.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/7/22

Today’s updates for the Reserve/COVID-19 list:

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers