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Packers Extend Alexander for Playmaking, Leadership

Said defensive coordinator Joe Barry of Jaire Alexander: “You talk about football character, Jaire Alexander has it.”

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers on Wednesday announced they have signed cornerback Jaire Alexander to a contract extension.

Terms were not mentioned by the team but the deal, which was reached on Sunday and reported on Monday, will keep Alexander contractually tied to the team through the 2026 season while creating immediate salary-cap relief.

“We are very excited to be able to come to an agreement that keeps Jaire in Green Bay,” general manager Brian Gutekunst in a statement. “He has consistently performed at a high level during his time with the Packers and we look forward to his continued growth as both a player and a leader for this team.”

Alexander, who was scheduled to play under the fifth-year option in 2022, signed a four-year extension worth $21 million per season. That’s the most expensive contract for a cornerback in NFL history but far behind the top-paid receivers.

A first-round pick in 2018, Alexander according to Sports Info Solutions gave up completion rates of 48.5 percent in 2019, 42.3 percent in 2020 and 46.7 percent during his injury-shortened 2021. That’s better than the other two cornerbacks in the $20-million-per-season club. Cleveland’s Denzel Ward allowed 44.3 percent in 2019, 49.3 percent in 2020 and 57.8 percent in 2021 and the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey allowed 62.1 percent in 2019, 46.7 percent in 2020 and 50.0 percent in 2021.

Alexander was named to the All-Rookie team in 2018. In 2020, he became the Packers’ first All-Pro cornerback since Charles Woodson in 2011.

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“I think it’s a great deal for the organization,” defensive backs coach Jerry Gray said on Wednesday. “You’ve got a young man who did a great job for us a couple years ago, and then got injured last year. I think it shows us the organization cares about what he’s done and they expect him to do the same thing he did a couple years ago.”

Voted a team captain by his peers, Alexander missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Sustained in Week 4, Alexander returned to a limited role for the playoff game against San Francisco. He played eight snaps against the 49ers and will be full-go when organized team activities begin next week.

“A lot of times, guys don’t understand when you hurt something and you’ve never been hurt, now that’s mental,” Gray said. “You have to go through the mental gymnastics of getting back. The mental part, that’s the hurdle that every player has to go through that’s hurt, because now he doesn’t want to get hurt again. So, is he going to give you 100 percent when he gets on the football field? Is he going to be timid? What type of guy are you going to get?

“And I think the playoff game gave us a sense that, ‘You know what, he’ll be back and he’ll be ready to go’ because he wasn’t trying to protect himself. That’s the hardest part that football players go through when they’re hurt and then they come back the same season. ‘Are they going to throw the ball at me? Are they going to run at me?’ When you get past the mental part, you’ll go back to being who you are.”

Alexander has five interceptions in four seasons, not including his two picks against Tom Brady in the 2020 NFC Championship Game.

Green Bay’s defense thrived without Alexander last season, thanks in part to the play of first-round pick Eric Stokes and veteran acquisition Rasul Douglas. Douglas re-signed in free agency and Stokes will be a year wiser after being thrust into an extensive role in Year 1, potentially giving the Packers the top cornerback trio in the NFL.

“I’m just looking forward to getting 23 back on the field healthy and back to himself,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said on Tuesday. “I think no one really realizes what he did just to get back for us for the playoff game because he had a major injury. A lot of guys would have just cashed it in and said, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in May.’ He busted his butt to get back and really was not 100 percent. He played his butt off in that playoff game. It goes to show you what kind of character he has, what he’s all about. You talk about football character, Jaire Alexander has it.”