Alexander’s move reunites him with Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who served as his defensive coordinator for the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
Alexander will most likely be used as an outside linebacker, deployed on either the strongside or weakside. C.J. Mosley (middle) and Quincy Williams are the only two confirmed starters. The third spot is up for grabs, and the leading contenders are Marcell Harris and Hamsah Nasirildeen.
The Jets failed to address the linebacker position in free agency or the draft, leaving them thin in the position. However, their intention was to bring in a veteran, which is why they met with Alexander in May. Despite the fact that the parties left without a deal confirmed, they never lost interest in the player.
Since the end of the season, the Jets have acquired a total of four former San Francisco 49ers defensive backs who played under Saleh. Harris, cornerback D.J. Reed, and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas are the others.
Alexander tore his Achilles tendon in Week 16 of the 2020 season after being traded to the Saints by the 49ers. He recovered last season, playing 12 games with 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble.
Six of his eight starts for the Saints came in the final eight games when he played 80% of the defensive snaps.
Alexander’s time in San Francisco was hampered by injuries. Just prior to being dealt to the Saints, he tore a pec in 2019 and sprained both his ankle and his foot badly the following season. With 521 career tackles, 12 sacks, eight interceptions, and ten forced fumbles, he has good range and has been especially useful in pass defense.
The 6-foot-1, 227-pound linebacker began his career as a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he played in one Pro Bowl in 2017.
Meanwhile, Alexander’s first full practice with the New York Jets was a positive one. The news follows his signing with the team just over a week ago.
The player was singled out by Saleh following Monday’s practice. The head coach, incidentally, was one of the reasons Alexander was even present in the first place.
“I wasn’t expecting him to be in the shape that he is, he’s in fantastic shape and he’s ready to roll,” Saleh said. “He is adding to the room and [Kwon] is definitely making it hard to keep him off of the field.”
If anything, this makes the upcoming Jets season a bit more interesting. As to whether he makes an impact significant enough to get the Jets into the playoffs remains to be seen, and betting outlets such as Betrivers New York will see plenty of action should the team get off to a hot start.
Alexander, speaking via video conference after his first full workout with the Jets, said Saleh was one of the reasons he chose New York – specifically, the Jets. The Jets and New York Giants were both in the running for Alexander. He also confirmed that the New Orleans Saints expressed interest.
“I love Saleh,” Alexander told reporters this week. “I love everything about Saleh, his energy. The main thing is that he brings everyone along. I’m glad we’re back together and I wanted to come back and play for him.”
Although Alexander has struggled with injuries throughout his career, he has shown to be a very talented and effective linebacker when fully healthy. The former Pro Bowler from LSU is a perfect fit for the Jets’ defensive scheme because he has experience with it.
Alexander’s time in San Francisco with Saleh helped him quickly adjust this summer and has equipped him for success with the Jets. Alexander received praise from Saleh earlier this week, and he has already made a good impression.
The fact that the Jets were able to sign Alexander despite the fact that other clubs were interested says a lot. There is a good chance Alexander would have received more money from other teams if he had decided against joining the Jets.
Just over $150,000 is guaranteed for Alexander’s base salary in 2022. Surely, the Giants and Saints were willing to pay that or even more.
Non-financial motives definitely prompted Alexander to join the Jets instead. Over the past decade, the organization has been forced to overpay for the services of external players due to a lack of internal talent.
There are doubts over the Jets’ move for Alexander, though.
“If Alexander never played for Saleh in San Francisco, there is a strong chance he’s not on the Jets right now,” Daniel Kelly writes for Sports Illustrated. “Signing Alexander is a questionable decision by Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas.
“He is not a difference maker, and there is a very strong chance he ends up on the injured reserve, given his history.
“Alexander has only played one full season in his entire career.”