On Saturday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Green Bay Packers’ decision to keep or trade cornerback Jaire Alexander in 2024 will hinge on the defensive back’s upcoming $8 million roster bonus. Based on how NFL teams have acted historically, though, don’t expect the team to make a move next year.
Let’s touch on Alexander’s situation first. He’s currently suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, which head coach Matt LaFleur claimed was due to multiple events — not just the episode where Alexander named himself a captain for the coin toss in Charlotte, his hometown, last week.
Sure, the Packers and Alexander seem to be having some sort of a rift right now, but the financials it would cost to move on from Alexander just don’t make sense right now. Last season, Alexander and the team inked a four-year, $84 million extension that just kicked in this year. At the time, only $30 million of that $84 million was guaranteed — all in the form of a signing bonus. That bonus is prorated (at $6 million per year) over the salary cap throughout the five years that Alexander was under contract for at the time of his signing.
What this means is that Alexander’s base dead cap (the cost to move on from him via a trade or release) would be $18 million (the remaining signing bonus dead cap) in 2024. On top of that, much of Alexander’s 2023 money was restructured and converted into another bonus. That new bonus adds another $9.4 million in dead cap if the team wants to move on from Alexander in 2024, bringing us to a dead cap grand total north of $27 million.
How bad is a $27 million dead cap? It would be one of the five largest dead caps in the history of the NFL, behind only the cost it took for teams to move on from Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady (retirement) and Carson Wentz. Yes, that means it would be the biggest cap hit in NFL history for a non-quarterback.
That’s the starting point for this conversation. That’s before ever accounting for the Packers’ salary cap situation in 2024. According to Spotrac, Green Bay has around $10 million in salary cap space going into next year, which is barely enough to fit in a rookie draft class, let alone attempt to re-sign, sign or extend any veteran players in the offseason.
From a pure accounting perspective, trading Alexander is a non-starter for the 2024 Packers. There’s a better chance that Green Bay will convert Alexander’s salary next season into another bonus, as a way to save cap space, than get rid of the former All-Pro cornerback.