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Bengals 2020 player review: Mackensie Alexander

Will the Bengals be going back to the market at slot cornerback this Spring?

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NFL: NOV 01 Titans at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Bengals signed two cornerbacks last offseason whom previously played for the Vikings. Unfortunately, they only got to see one of them play.

Mackensie Alexander signed with Cincinnati shortly after his Minnesota teammate Trae Waynes did so. Alexander’s contract guaranteed him just 10% of what Waynes’ contract guaranteed him, and it lasted just one year compared to Waynes’ three-year deal. The differences in investment primarily showed the discrepancy between slot and boundary cornerbacks, but the front office realized a lot of value for what they paid for in Alexander.

In his 13 games, Alexander’s 391 coverage snaps ranked fourth on the team (per Pro Football Focus), which is exactly where you’d expect a starting slot defender to end up. Alexander missed two games early in the season due to a hamstring injury and an illness sidelined him for the season finale. Despite these absences, Alexander played a career-high 642 snaps in his fifth year in the NFL.

The 27-year old Alexander was on the field more often than he usually was and played about how he should’ve based on his four-year stint with the Vikings. He didn’t go the entire season with no missed tackles like he did in 2019, but he had over three times as many defensive stops (23) as he did missed tackles (seven). Only Josh Bynes (40), Vonn Bell (34), and Germaine Pratt (30) registered more stops than Alexander in Cincinnati’s back seven.

Alexander played to expectation in coverage as well. From 2017-2019, Alexander surrendered a mere 84.89 passer rating when targeted. He allowed a passer rating of just 87.0 in 2020 thanks to in part to his six pass breakups and an interception that was further highlighted by his mid-run back celebration.

The man high-stepped his way out of bounds on Monday Night Football. What else really needs to be said about how great he is?

2020 was a wild year for everyone, but Alexander had another layer of craziness to deal with. A couple weeks before the start of the season, Alexander’s father went missing in south Florida. Jean Alexandre was found alive and well a couple days after his disappearance, but Alexander was temporarily jailed for committing battery against the man that was last seen with him. All charges against Alexander were dropped last month.

Alexander and his family can fully move on from the events of last August. Closure is nice to have when a second-straight free agency period awaits the former third-round pick.

From a talent and value perspective, it makes all the sense in the world for the Bengals to re-sign Alexander. He’s a proven starter as a slot defender and he’s in the middle of his prime. Despite this, the Bengals may not be interested in bringing back Alexander, per The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. Alexander is a clear asset on the field, but there could be differences between Alexander and the coaching staff we don’t know about.

If 2020 was it for Alexander’s time in Cincinnati, it was at least a productive one-year stint.