Brian Gutekunst Confirms: Jaire Alexander Isn’t Going Anywhere

In his season-ending press conference, Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed that he has no intention of trading away cornerback Jaire Alexander this offseason. Some people were speculating about this possibility after the cornerback’s one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Alexander later made a post on social media that some people interpreted as a possible goodbye to Green Bay.

But it never really made sense for the Packers to move on from Alexander and Gutekunst put those rumors to rest convincingly. When he was asked if he would consider trading the former first-round pick out of Louisville, Gutekunst was direct and unequivocal. “No, no,” he said.

Gute discussed the suspension and how it could be a turning point for the relationship between the player and the organization.

“Those things are difficult, those are tough, but at the end of the day it allowed us all to reset,” Gutekunst said. “Really proud of the way Jaire responded to that and I think that’s going to help us moving forward.”

Head coach Matt LaFleur also liked the way Alexander responded to the suspension. “I thought he responded, he did an outstanding job,” LaFleur explained. “Sometimes, whether it’s in football or life, sometimes you go through some hardship and you’re better for it. I think Ja could sit here and tell you, as tough as that was, really, on everybody here, I do think our level of communication will be so much clearer and consistent. I think there’s a lot of good that actually ended up coming out of that.”

The last straw that led to the suspension took place in the game against the Panthers. Although he was not named a captain for the game, Alexander went out for the coin toss anyway. He almost made a mistake that would have cost the Packers the ball to start both halves. Fortunately, because LaFleur told the referee in advance what his intentions were, the officials gave the Pack the benefit of the doubt.

Even before the suspension, 2023 was a difficult season for Alexander. He missed substantial time due to multiple injuries. He did not play up to his previous Pro Bowl standards. He appeared in only seven games. According to pro-football-reference.com, opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Alexander and had a quarterback rating of 113.4. Both of those numbers were the worst of Alexander’s six-year NFL career. He also had difficulty tackling, due in part to the shoulder injury that hampered his ability to play a more physical game.

After the suspension, Alexander responded by playing better football. While he didn’t intercept any passes in the seven regular-season games he played, he came up with a critical interception in the Packers playoff game against Dallas. The pick took place late in the first quarter. Four plays later, the Packers scored and led 14-0 en route to a 48-32 win. He also broke up a pass and made seven tackles in the game.

There are other reasons not to trade Alexander as long as his attitude isn’t an issue going forward. He remains the team’s best cover corner when healthy. There aren’t too many shutdown corners in the NFL, players who can practically eliminate one side of the field when they are lined up to that side. When healthy, Alexander has shown he can play at that level.

There’s also the matter of the salary cap. Alexander remains the highest paid cornerback in the NFL earning more than $20 million per season. If the Packers traded him, they would be hit with a dead cap hit of more than $20 million and be missing their best cover corner.

When you add the fact that Eric Stokes is coming off a lost season due to injury that limited him to just three games and that Corey Ballentine is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, trading Alexander would leave the Packers extremely thin at cornerback in addition to the bad cap hit they’d take.

The Packers defense needs playmakers, guys who can make a game-turning turnover or change the outcome of a game when they play well. Alexander can be one of those players. Trading him never made sense unless his attitude was such a big problem it was disrupting the team. The Packers will welcome him back in 2024.

 

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3 points
 

Comments (53)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dobber's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:22 pm

I'll bet a shiny nickel that the Packers' new DC has already had a conversation or two with JA.

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Since'61's picture

February 04, 2024 at 07:13 am

I agree Dobber! Thanks, Since '61

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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:24 pm

That's one good piece in the secondary. We need more. But if you take a frequently injured CB, and make him play aggressive press coverage (which involves more contact), you've increased the chances he'll get injured. I'm skeptical.

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MooPack's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:33 pm

I'm going to disagree somewhat. If they are playing man, they are playing in their hip pocket with (hopefully) little separation. The tackle is an immediate grab without having to lay a shoulder into them. Whereas playing off with much space you have to react and make a running tackle which usually means laying into them with the shoulder.

Either way Alexander and Stokes have got to get healthy. Personally, I think playing off got them hurt. I'm hoping the new strength and conditioning coach can help lower the number of injuries, especially hammies.

11 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:51 pm

You might be right, that the contact will be "softer". But there's going to be more contact in press coverage than in the "bend but don't break soft zone". That's inevitable.

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Coldworld's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:15 pm

The worst scenario for injuries is not close contact, it’s reaching/bad angles/body position and being on the back foot when hit. Those happen more playing off.

6 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 09:23 pm

I think mass and velocity, even if your angles and body position are good, eventually tell the tale. Believe the Science.

I'd like to know what study you read that said that you get more injuries playing off . That's counterintuitive to me.

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grbfrog's picture

February 04, 2024 at 01:38 pm

I hope our new defensive coordinator can present coverages as confusing as this. “I think” is followed by “Believe the Science.” What science? I thought you were offering your opinion.

Then we get the request for a study to refute intuition. Are we offering intuitions or having a rigorous academic debate? I’m ok with either but it isn’t really fair to bounce back and forth. My opinion; no philosophical argument to back it up at this time.

My opinion is also that it is an interesting argument presented by both sides, and I like hearing each perspective. I would’ve never even considered how you play coverage would affect injury risk, and that’s a really insightful point /question. I also have the opinion that if playing press vs. off coverage does actually make a difference to the likelihood of injury, it’s probably not going to be significant enough to statistically prove it, so we’ll probably be left with our opinions. But I’m happy to be proven wrong or listen to other’s opinions. 🙂

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Bitternotsour's picture

February 03, 2024 at 03:32 pm

I'm guessing here, but most cornerback injuries seem like they're in run support. Jaire used to really bring the leather in run support, so too did Stokes. I've never seen a corner get hurt jamming a receiver at the line so I'm not really sure how man coverage is any more prone to injury than zone.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:34 pm

They will have to bring in at minimum, two CBs from this draft. Bag a safety by rd three and try to use Free Agency to secure a competent veteran. Stokes is way down on the list and I doubt he recovers. He was given safety help as a rookie.

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NitschkeFan's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:27 pm

@GillMartin I think we all agree the team needs some quality (and quantity) at DB. I hope Alexander regains his All Pro form for the Packers.

But in terms of salary cap, what are the options? According to you none. But according to OverTheCap, a post-June 1st trade would result in opening up $15 million in cap space but with an $8.3 mill dead money hit.

If the above is true, then it is not impossible to see a trade happening.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 12:54 pm

Agree, Nitschke. There is 0 chance the the Packers are going to let the salary cap stop them from getting legitimate safeties on the field next year. It's not Gutekunst's M.O., and it certainly isn't the M.O. of former Safety, Mark Murphy, especially on his last team, especially when it's got a good shot at the Super Bowl.

A trade that has been discussed is Budda Baker, who will be in the last year of his deal at AZ, and who is probably not part of the future with a rebuilding AZ team. We could trade for him and then rework his contract to a multi-year deal. We have extra Day 2 picks in the draft, we could fit him under the cap, and he'd fill an important hole.

4 points
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dblbogey's picture

February 03, 2024 at 01:35 pm

Since the new DC plans to play a lot of cover 1 with one safety back, we do need a really good one. Budda might be a plan - I don't know if there's a top safety they could get to in the draft.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 01:52 pm

We'll see how much of his plan survives first contact. I would think most offensive coordinators would rather attack a Cover 1 than a Cover 2. I'm skeptical about his plans already.

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Coldworld's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:20 pm

He’s used cover 2 as well, particularly later. The good thing is he will switch that depending on opponents and available personnel. The cover 1, take away the middle of the field approach has value and usage that Barry never grasped. Especially when you have a corner like Alexander. If Stokes is truly physically restored, it will be much closer to his usage as a rookie too.

4 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 05:45 pm

So you're confident we'll give up fewer points next year. I get that. I'm not so sure, yet.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:43 pm

This guy will not be Barry and signal the coverage as per down and distance. He can run the slot blitz with single high to get at the QB. The name of the game is to disrupt the QB and contain him, if he's a runner. This new guy will be multiple. The Budda Baker move should have been last season. Owens is a 50/50 "want to" guy. Have to get better players. Tampa will probably Franchise Winfield, or sign him to a new Deal.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:51 pm

They would have to move up for DeJean, or Kinchens. I doubt they fall to #25.

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stockholder's picture

February 03, 2024 at 04:58 pm

After watching Branch drop last year.??
IMO THE SAFETY WILL BE THERE.

3 points
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splitpea1's picture

February 03, 2024 at 05:36 pm

That was amazing, wasn't it? Many seemed to sour in him after his less than stellar showing at the combine. But I have no qualms whatsoever about the players the Packers drafted in the second round.

Hopefully we'll get the opportunity to draft a player of his talents this time around.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 04, 2024 at 06:54 pm

Round One loaded with QBs and WRs. No safeties looked at until Branch and Quan Martin, a horse a piece. I will take Reed over a safety, but your call on Rashee Rice cannot be disputed; yet, he was fed the ball by an ALL-PRO, just as Watson was productive for Rodgers. The long-term deal will be the comparison of Musgrave vs Branch's careers. If teams over-draft some of these OTs in rd one, the safeties may fall to #25.

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NickPerry's picture

February 03, 2024 at 08:03 pm

I think Kinchens will be there at 25. It will depend what Gute does in FA too. For example, If he signs a safety in FA or traded for Baker, then I'd highly doubt Gute would use his 1st round pick on a safety.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 09:28 pm

Way too early. We'll see what the combines and prodays show us. I'm currently seeing both of those guys available at #25.

Gutekunst has shown he'll trade to move up in the first and get the guy he wants. That could happen, too.

In simulations, I'm seeing some decent Safeties in the 3rd round.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 04, 2024 at 10:31 am

Let the draft fall to us so we don't waste any of our 5 premium picks. C Dejean is really good but not worth wasting a 2nd or 3rd rounder over moving up for. Kinchens won't go in the 1st round. After the 2 recent bowl games there will be about 5 guys that will become "surprise first round picks" that wouldn't have been 2 weeks ago. And then there are the 'Underwear Olympics" as well. There will be some really good players falling to the 2nd and 3rd rounds for us to fill holes with.

I think we are in a great position in the draft because we could stay @ #25 and fill a hole with a good starter on a 5 year contract. Or if we could get lucky and trade back with some team that absolutely covets a player that has dropped and gives us 2 more really good picks. Penix, McCnamara and Nix come to mind. There are 1/2 dozen teams that won't get one of the top 3 QBs and might move back into the first round, expensively..

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HawkPacker's picture

February 04, 2024 at 10:56 am

Could be a good plan gp. It all depends on how the draft develops. If DeJean is available at 25, take him but don't trade picks to move up. If he is gone it may not be a bad idea to move back to draft a safety in the second round. There again it depends on whose available according to our draft board.

I am pretty confident in how Gute lets it play out. We have to be!

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NitschkeFan's picture

February 03, 2024 at 01:55 pm

Leatherhead, I like the way you are thinking. I think that the team may approach the "DB room" the way the approached the "pass catching" room recently. The past two drafts had them draft 6 WR and 2 TE.

I would expect at least 3 DB (Safety & CB) in the draft and maybe 1-2 free agents or trade pickups. Possibly repeat the following year.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:48 pm

Replacing former One Picks, instead of re-signing them. Now he has to hit it like Beckham on the secondary selections. We will see...

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 05:51 pm

Actually, I was recently reading an article that said we could SAVE money in 2024 by resigning Savage (and Nixon) to multi-year deals. Add those two to Alexander, Stokes, Valentine and Johnson and we're up to 6. Draft a safety, or trade for one that you think can be that single-high guy. That's 7. Pick a CB with our first round pick, and we're at 8.

This is fixable. Start with making sure we can line up 3 good corners and one good free safety.

-1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

February 03, 2024 at 09:00 pm

Budda Baker only allowed one TD and still gave up a passer rating of 106. No thank you.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 03, 2024 at 01:13 pm

Alexander legitimately is a shutdown corner and was a big advantage for us against Dallas and SF. He has also been hurt a lot and he is really expensive. Hopefully he and Stokes get & stay healthy next year. It would take a big ? off the plate. I think the new DC helps them excel. Let's get some good Safeties starting with the draft. Tyler Nubin would be a great start. Budda Baker will be too expensive, but he would be a gamechanger too. I can't see us spending over $6 million on a FA Safety. We can find better value than Baker. Good FA Safeties are relatively cheap compared to CBs.

1 points
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Minniman's picture

February 04, 2024 at 01:57 am

I agree - Alexander is a shut-down corner.

Hopefully Hafley can reinstate tackling as a core defensive capability (instead of chop blocking).

1 points
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HawkPacker's picture

February 04, 2024 at 10:59 am

gp, I read earlier, and commented too, that Geno Stone from the Ravens is a FA and he could help us at safety.

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egbertsouse's picture

February 03, 2024 at 02:18 pm

It's better to get rid of a player one year too early rather than one year too late. You'd think Gute would've learned that with AR when he gave up a potential treasure-trove of draft picks to get one last 8-9 season. Hanging on to guys too long is a problem.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

February 03, 2024 at 03:26 pm

Sure if Jaire were 29-30 and near the end of his deal. But he’s like 27 and has a bit cap hit if he is traded. This isn’t “one last season” for Alexander or Stokes. They were first round picks with real talent, and they need to make the most of their careers before moving on.

8 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

February 03, 2024 at 03:35 pm

Gutekunst knows the year too early stratagem, he's a Ted Thompson man. I think the rest of the brain trust are now onboard with it.

3 points
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Fubared's picture

February 04, 2024 at 11:47 am

We dont want to go there do we? I thought we waited two years too long to unload a younger and way in demand QB. Hell, I remember saying, we could have gotten a one, three and possible another one the following year. With our one, our two, two threes. we could have rebuilt this team quickly with talent.
Gutt fd up that chance hoping for greatness to eminate one more time. FLOP

-3 points
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GregC's picture

February 03, 2024 at 03:10 pm

So glad that the situation with Alexander worked itself out. It looked like an anomaly to me at the time, and apparently that's what it was, rather than a sign of the team's morale collapsing. They won the game that he was suspended for (with Justin Jefferson on the opposing team), and then Alexander came back, was contrite, and played really well. We just have to hope he stays healthy.

I wonder if CBs are the most-injured players in the NFL. It sure seems that way. They are the smallest players on the defense, but they still have to make a lot of tackles. They also have to run at a high speed and change direction often, so it's hard for them to be effective when playing hurt.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

February 03, 2024 at 05:01 pm

I DOUBT THIS IS WORKED OUT.
REMEMBER RANDALL?

I'D SHOP HIM. BEFORE THEY CAN'T.

-7 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

February 03, 2024 at 06:21 pm

You are highly excitable, but there's still no good reason to shout.

What do Cobb or Damarious have to do with Alexander? Did you just want to remember some dudes named Randall? That could be fun. Cunningham was good. I admired McDaniel. Your turn.

5 points
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stockholder's picture

February 03, 2024 at 08:12 pm

I thought you remembered the dispute
Randall had with players on the sideline.
And made his feelings public.
How did Cobb come into this?

1 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

February 03, 2024 at 08:19 pm

I do recall that now that you're more specific. Randall's actions were directed at teammates and he'd become a locker room cancer. Who was the veteran DB who advocated for Randall being lovingly set free?

I just like to list dudes named Randall whenever I get an opportunity.

2 points
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golfpacker1's picture

February 04, 2024 at 10:45 am

Stockholder, not that I am saying we should trade Alexander, but as the devils advocate, what is he worth in trade? A first for sure, but is he valuable enough to score us a first rounder and a good player, or 2 premium picks? His is one of the few contracts that really saves serious $$.

You mention Randall. I will throw out Bahktiari as a wait too long deal and he made it seem like he didn't want to be here after AR was gone.. Now we will get nothing in a trade and eat $20 million.

1 points
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HawkPacker's picture

February 04, 2024 at 11:03 am

Careful what you say about Bahktiari gp, I mentioned him some time ago about his signing of the huge extension and many did not want to hear that.

0 points
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stockholder's picture

February 04, 2024 at 01:21 pm

Alexander should be worth exactly what Adams was worth.
And they need to use the money on Love, and cap savings.

Bahk is done.- His injury cost this team too much everywhere.

1 points
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Leatherhead's picture

February 03, 2024 at 09:33 pm

The whole Randall thing was interesting. I remember re-watching a game and he slipped so he was unable to initiate contact with a ball carrier running upfield. Then I started looking for it and saw it over and over. A slight slip, just enough to prevent him from getting in front of the guy. We hired a new DC and I'm sure he saw that and got rid of him for a guy who was useless (Kizer). And by all reports, he was a cancer in the locker room.

1 points
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Minniman's picture

February 04, 2024 at 01:38 am

Good.

He got sick of being made into a keystone cop.

He's a hunter - let him hunt.

1 points
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Turophile's picture

February 04, 2024 at 04:46 am

This post is about the power balance between Murphy, Gutekunst and La Fleur.

Here is an answer to a question I have often pondered. It is Mark Murphy talking about the DC hire............

Q. I'm learning more about Jeff Hafley and excited to see how he does as DC. I'm wondering who made the final decision in the hiring of him?

A. Good question, Rob. While Matt LaFleur received input from Brian Gutekunst, myself and others, he has full control over his coaching staff and made the final decision. I was very impressed with the way Matt conducted the search. We interviewed many candidates, both by Zoom and in person, and Jeff rose to the top. His work both in the NFL and at Boston College was impressive. Although Matt and Jeff have never coached together, they have many mutual acquaintances who spoke highly of Jeff. Also, my roommate on the Redskins, Pete Cronan, a Boston College alumnus and the longtime radio voice of Boston College football, was very impressed with Jeff and the work he did at Boston College.

So, as you can gather from that, LaFleur makes the final call but, (as I would have expected) communicates his wishes to Gute and Murphy and gets advice from them.

The same interview also gave us THIS

Q Have you or BG ever considered writing an article about what went on in the background leading up to the decision to draft Jordan Love? I would think that there were some interesting conversations going on and would suspect that not everyone involved were buying into it. I'm happy to see that all the naysayers are eating crow and singing your praises! How does it feel being a genius?

A I think this may have to wait until Brian retires, Mike. We don't want to give up any trade secrets! I do give Brian (and his team) tremendous credit for having the courage of his convictions in drafting Jordan Love. They did their research on Jordan and knew that he had excellent potential. Jordan's draft year was in the middle of COVID, so things were very different. I remember Brian letting me know that we were going to trade up to pick Jordan. I knew that we had him rated highly and was impressed with the process that Brian and his staff had followed. I know we were criticized for the pick at the time, but Brian felt strongly that it would be a good pick in the long-term.

This tells us it was Gute that was the driving force to hire Jordan Love. Again, what I expected, but it counters what some naysayers have suggested, that Murphy is making major personnel decisions himself - and pushing them on Gute and LaFleur. This is very like a Bob Harlan trait - hire a good guy and let him run his thing without interference........advice, sure you can give it, but let them choose their guys. The only counter to that is Murphy having final say on hiring and firing the head coach, but that is the only cap on Gute's power that I see.

3 points
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GregC's picture

February 04, 2024 at 05:45 am

Thanks for posting, those are really interesting quotes. They do suggest a harmonious relationship between Murphy, Gutekunst, and LaFleur. Like you, I've always suspected this was the case. Fans have a tendency to blame bad decisions (or at least questionable decisions) on Murphy, but there's no evidence of that. Of course, the biggest questions are about how the last few years of Aaron Rodgers' career with the Packers were handled. Did Murphy pressure Gutekunst to give Rodgers that last contract extension? In the absence of evidence, my assumption is no.

I don't love the current power structure, and I hope that when Murphy leaves, it reverts to the GM having total control of the head coaching hire. The current power structure has created a lot of suspicion among the public about who is pulling the strings. Better to keep it clean and simple. It's worth noting, though, that even with the more simplified power structure, a meddlesome team president could still put pressure on the GM when decisions are being made. I don't think Murphy is doing that, but he's contributed to that perception by speaking a lot in public about some of the decisions. The intent, I think, is to present a unified front, but it's not always perceived that way.

1 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

February 04, 2024 at 08:11 am

Looking forward to seeing him in press-man.

2 points
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Fubared's picture

February 04, 2024 at 11:44 am

Have to say I hope your right. I will give him this, did Barry f him up? Was he held back from being who he is or will we find out what we have is what he is?

0 points
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HarryHodag's picture

February 04, 2024 at 08:35 am

If the new defensive coordinator can teach him how to tackle then fine. His tackling is a liability. If he can't learn to tackle then they could keep him busy selling beer on game days.

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golfpacker1's picture

February 04, 2024 at 11:01 am

Similar to the decision the Bears have with their QB, Fields. Only Alexander is the better player at this point. Chicago can save a bunch of money resetting the QB clock, plus getting good draft capitol and probably a player, and get at least as good of a QB with the first pick. Actually, being a Big Ten Fan, I saw Fields a lot @ Ohio State and he was a great passer, as good as the Texans QB. The Bears haven't given him the talent on offense to make him better, but that has worked out for us. I hope they don't keep him and miss out on trading the #1 pick for buukuu picks.

Alexander would net us a big return too, but then CB is for sure the biggest need in the draft. It's a tough decision to trade a good player, but with the injuries, missed games, and big dollars in the contract adding to the negative side of the ledger.

0 points
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Fubared's picture

February 04, 2024 at 11:42 am

To me Alexander is a jive ass jerk off who yaps a lot about his talent but hasnt shown crap on the field. He's afraid of contact, now suffering small injuries but staying out of the lineup too much. But ya they will keep him and he will keep being a total failure for the money were paying him. Stokes and Jairre were too very bad picks by Gutt. There were way better choices and he blew it.

-3 points
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