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New deal, same determination for Jaire Alexander

Packers cornerback can’t wait to get back on the field in 2022

CB Jaire Alexander
CB Jaire Alexander

GREEN BAY – Jaire Alexander is an All-Pro cornerback. He's not a salary cap expert. He's not an agent.

When it came time to open negotiations with the Packers on a long-term contract, Alexander left those discussions entirely up to John Thornton and his representatives at Roc Nation Sports.

Meanwhile, Alexander traveled down to Pensacola, Fla., to train for the 2022 NFL season with instructions to Thornton to call him if or when something gets done.

It didn't take long for the phone to ring.

"He was like, 'You're going to want to come to Green Bay … The deal is done,'" Alexander said. "I'm like, 'The deal is done?' Like, everything happened so fast. … I'm like, 'I gotta be in Green Bay in two days? Can I put my cats away?'"

On May 18, surrounded by his family, Alexander signed the contract he's been dreaming about since he was old enough to dream, a deal commensurate with being the best cornerback in the NFL.

The security is nice, but the recognition is what meant the most to Alexander. Once an overlooked recruit out of Charlotte, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback has established himself as one of the game's top defensive talents during his first four years in Green Bay.

A true lockdown corner, Alexander has registered 188 tackles, 44 passes defensed and five interceptions in 48 games (46 starts). According to Pro Football Focus, he's allowed just 49 catches on 96 targets (51%) for 492 yards over the past two seasons for a 62.5 passer rating.

That doesn't mean last year wasn't a challenge, though. Coming off a second-team All-Pro season in 2020, Alexander injured his shoulder in Week 4 against Pittsburgh while tackling Steelers running back Najee Harris.

It was pain Alexander had never experienced before and caused him to miss the remainder of the regular season. The Packers adapted and maintained a top 10 defense, but the unit still missed the centerpiece of the secondary.

"Jaire's got an unbelievable energy that he brings each and every day," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "He has a lot of fun out there on the field and I think his teammates feed off that. We missed that obviously last year not having that."

It was hard for Alexander to watch from the sidelines, but he found "strength being here for my teammates." He mentored rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes and helped Rasul Douglas with the playbook after the veteran signed with the Packers in early October.

Douglas ended up leading the Packers with five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, on his way to being named a Pro Bowl alternate. Nearly two months before Green Bay completed its extension with Alexander, General Manager Brian Gutekunst had signed Douglas to a long-term deal, as well.

Watching both Stokes and Douglas thrive eased some of Alexander's angst. He returned for the playoffs, but coming up short against the 49ers – and not being able to fully wrap up Deebo Samuel late in the game – has only fueled Alexander's desire for a different outcome in 2022.

Hence, why Alexander was working on his craft in Florida this offseason in preparation for Year 5 rather than thinking about dollars and cents. It's Alexander's expectation he, Stokes and Douglas can be a catalyst for a dominant Packers defense.

Back in Green Bay for minicamp this past week, the veteran was working against rookie second-round pick Christian Watson. The two had several competitive reps during 7-on-7 and team periods, including Alexander breaking up a deep ball intended for Watson on fourth down of a two-minute drill Wednesday.

It was a callback to early in Alexander's career when he lined up against All-Pro receiver Davante Adams. Like Adams did for Alexander, the veteran cornerback vows to give Watson and the rest of the Packers' young receivers the best look possible.

"I played against the best receiver in the league, Davante Adams, all four years I've been here," Alexander said. "I'm going to make it as hard as I can for those guys because I know on Sunday it's going to pay off. Iron sharpens iron. However I can help to make them better, I'm going to do that."

That idiom works both ways. Still only 25, Alexander believes he has plenty of growth ahead of him, too, and prepares as such. It goes back to a message defensive coordinator Joe Barry often reiterates: "Consistency is the greatest measure of greatness."

As a player or person, Alexander refuses to let his financial situation change who he is. In lieu of a designer suit, the Packers cornerback wore a short-sleeve button-up and a pair of pants he purchased for $5 from Goodwill to Lambeau Field to sign his contract.

Even now, three weeks after signing the deal, Alexander said he still hasn't bought anything yet. He might get some land, though. Other than that, he's the same guy…with a new deal.

"I've been the same with money and without money," Alexander said. "Don't nothing change me."

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