3 Players the Packers Should Consider to Cover the Jaire Alexander Injury
The Green Bay Packers will be without Jaire Alexander for at least the next few weeks.
Green Bay placed its top cornerback on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The team has to look internally and externally to find the best possible replacement for Alexander.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters before the Week 5 clash with the Cincinnati Bengals that the team is hopeful Alexander does not need surgery for the shoulder, per Bill Huber of the Associated Press.
"It's one of those things we're going to let heal and see where it's at down the line before making that determination (on surgery)," LaFleur said. "But we're hopeful that it'll heal the right way and he'll be back with us in a matter of weeks."
According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the Packers are bringing in Quinton Dunbar to help fill Alexander's defensive role.
The Packers called on rookie Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan and Kevin King to take up most of the cornerback snaps in Week 5's win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Green Bay's coaching staff could decide more help is needed outside of Dunbar, and that could lead to an exploration of the trade market.
The obvious answer to replace Alexander is Green Bay's 2021 first-round pick.
Stokes played 97 percent of the defensive snaps against Cincinnati. He made four tackles and had one pass defended.
However, the Georgia product also allowed six catches on 10 targets against Cincinnati's talented wide receiver corps.
Prior to Alexander's injury, Stokes was slowly worked into the Green Bay secondary. He played in 13 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 1, 77 percent in Week 2 and then 100 percent in Weeks 3 and 4.
Green Bay drafted Stokes to be a complement to Alexander on the other side of the defensive backfield, but now he will be asked to be the team's top cover man.
If Stokes impresses in the coming weeks, Green Bay should not have to dip into the trade market to bring in a top-tier corner.
In that situation, the Packers could focus on building depth around Stokes with Sullivan, King, Dunbar or other players who may hit the waiver wire.
Dunbar will be initially added to the practice squad, but he could be elevated sooner rather than later to help cover for Alexander's production.
King suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday's game at Cincinnati. If he misses any time, the Packers could let the veteran corner prove what he can do on the field.
The seventh-year player allowed 6.5 yards per target in his final year with Washington, but that average jumped to 9.1 yards per target during his lone season in Seattle.
If Dunbar shows flashes of his time in Washington, he could provide some solid depth to a position that has concerned the Packers for quite some time.
Dunbar may not be the perfect answer to fill Alexander's void, but he would at least provide some veteran experience at the position to complement Stokes.
If Alexander can't make it back to the field in 2021, the Packers should consider swinging big on the trade market.
Xavien Howard is one of two cornerbacks on the Miami Dolphins roster who the Packers could go after in a trade.
Howard is being paid a bit less than Byron Jones, and he may welcome the idea of playing for a contender if the Dolphins continue to struggle.
Howard is under contract through the 2024 season, per Spotrac, so the Packers would have to give up some decent draft capital to get this potential deal done.
However, it could be exactly what the Packers need to challenge the best teams in the NFC. The team's secondary was exploited throughout the NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Howard had 20 passes defended and 10 interceptions in 2020, and he has long been one of the league's best corners.
If Green Bay is serious about its Super Bowl potential, it should at least reach out to Miami to see how it could swing a Howard trade.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.