WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst addressed the Green Bay media from the 2022 NFL Annual Meeting at the Breakers Palm Beach Monday afternoon.
Here are five things we learned from Gutekunst’s media session:
1. The Packers want to use Jaire Alexander’s ability to ‘do everything’ to the defense’s advantage.
Green Bay has ample talent and flexibility at cornerback after re-signing Rasul Douglas earlier this month, but Chandon Sullivan’s departure in free agency does create some questions about which defensive back will man the slot in sub-packages.
The Packers aren’t committing to any one specific player at the moment, but Gutekunst hinted that this could be an opportunity for the defense to get even more creative with how they use Alexander.
The 25-year-old cornerback has built an All-Pro resume on the perimeter, locking down one side of the defense for the past four seasons. However, Green Bay did slide him inside in the team’s NFC Divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers this past January, Alexander’s first game back since sustaining a significant shoulder injury against Pittsburgh in Week 4.
Gutekunst doesn’t anticipate the shoulder being an issue for Alexander moving forward and believes the 5-foot-10, 196-pound cornerback could be a potential option inside if the situation calls for it.
“With Ja, he’s going to go where some of the receivers are going to go,” Gutekunst said. “He’s going to follow some of those guys in different packages. He can do everything. It’s a nice luxury for us to have.”
Alexander remains a candidate for a contract extension after the team exercised his fifth-year option for 2022. Gutekunst said: “We’d love for that to happen. Certainly, we’ve been in communication with his representation and we will continue to be as we go through the year.”
The other big piece to the secondary puzzle was retaining Douglas, who stepped up in Alexander’s stead after being signed off Arizona’s practice squad on Oct. 6.
The sixth-year veteran wound up leading Green Bay with five interceptions (two returned for touchdowns). Gutekunst also believes Douglas has the tools to play inside depending on which direction the coaching staff wants to go.
“He’s obviously very physical in the run game, which is an important part of playing nickel,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a taller, bigger corner, which obviously sometimes those quicker slot receivers can give those guys problems, but his instincts and his ability to anticipate make up for a little bit of that.
“Quite frankly, our entire corner group that we have right now probably could play both inside and out.”