Jaire Alexander’s strange season has taken another turn. Three days after he anointed himself as one of the Green Bay Packers’ captains — and then made what coach Matt LaFleur called “a big mistake” by nearly botching the call after winning the coin toss — the team suspended him for one game.
He was placed on the reserve/suspended list Wednesday for what the team called “conduct detrimental to the team.”
The Packers beat the Carolina Panthers 33-30 to set up what is essentially a playoff elimination game Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings, a meeting of two 7-8 teams vying for an NFC wild-card spot. It means the Packers won’t have Alexander against Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson.
LaFleur was not pleased with Alexander after Sunday’s game at Carolina. Alexander, who grew up in Charlotte, walked to midfield before the game with the Packers’ three game captains — Aaron Jones, Quay Walker and Eric Wilson. The Packers did not elect season-long captains this year, instead using a weekly rotation.
Alexander called tails and won the toss. He then said the Packers wanted to be on defense, which is not the same as choosing to defer their choice to the second half. Referee Alex Kemp could have taken Alexander’s call to mean they wanted to kick off, which then would have allowed Carolina to receive the ball to start both halves. However, because LaFleur, in the pregame meeting with the officials, informed Kemp that the Packers would defer if they won the toss, Kemp clarified that Alexander wanted to defer.
Alexander did not express any remorse or regret after the game. When asked why he went out with the captains, Alexander said: “It’s only suiting. I don’t think Coach knew I was from Charlotte, so…”
Sunday’s game was the first time Alexander had suited up since Nov. 5, when he suffered a shoulder injury against the Rams. However, he had been practicing on a limited basis but was inactive week after week, leading to questions about whether there was something other than the injury keeping him out. But Alexander and those close to him insisted the issue was injury-related and not displeasure with the organization.
LaFleur also said the suspension had nothing to do with Alexander not being able to play with his injury.
“I’ll just say this: It’s never for one thing,” LaFleur said Wednesday. “But like I said, I think there’s a lot of lessons along the way from everybody involved, and hopefully we learn from them. I think we will. I think there will be probably better communication moving forward.
Alexander, the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at $21 million per season, will lose one week’s pay. However, because most of his money came in signing and roster bonuses, his base salary is $1.08 million, so he will lose only $60,000 (his weekly game check) plus the $38,235 he gets in weekly roster bonuses if he’s active.
Alexander also gave up a $700,000 workout bonus this spring when he opted to skip most of the offseason program. When Alexander reported for the team’s mandatory minicamp in June, he said he preferred to be in Green Bay when no one else was around the team facility, so he had stayed in town after last season but then left when the voluntary workouts began in April.
In six games this season, he has four pass breakups but no interceptions. Alexander has twice been a second-team All-Pro selection (2020, 2022).
This incident clouds Alexander’s future with the Packers. He’s scheduled to make $16 million in salary and bonus in 2024. He has an $8 million roster bonus due in March. If the Packers cut him before then, they would save $1.636 million in salary cap space.