Kiko Alonso

49ers Cut LB Kiko Alonso

The 49ers have waived linebacker Kiko Alonso with a failed physical designation, per a team press release. Meanwhile, defensive linemen D.J. Jones and Jordan Willis have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

The Niners acquired Alonso earlier this month in the deal that sent Kwon Alexander to the Saints. The trade was mostly done as a salary dump, though they were hoping to get some value out of Alonso (as well as the conditional fifth-rounder).

Alonso started for the Dolphins between 2016-18 and was mostly healthy, averaging more than 115 tackles per season. He was a little less productive for the Saints in 2019 and, unfortunately, ended his season with an ACL tear in the Wild Card round. The 30-year-old has yet to see the field in 2020 and it’s not clear if he’ll be able to suit up for anyone this season.

Last time out, the Niners fell to Alonso’s old squad. Next, they’ll face the Rams in Los Angeles.

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49ers Trade Kwon Alexander To Saints

The 49ers have agreed to trade linebacker Kwon Alexander to the Saints, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. In exchange, the Saints will send fellow ‘backer Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round pick to San Francisco. 

Alexander, 26, has three seasons left on his four-year, $54MM deal. The off-ball ‘backer is remarkably tough – he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in November and somehow managed to return for the Niners’ playoff run. Alexander also battled a biceps injury that required surgery in February. These maladies emerged after he missed much of the 2018 season with an ACL tear.

Those issues predictably dropped his trade value, preventing SF from offloading him over the summer. Now, they’ve found a deal for him, though it mostly amounts to a contract dump.

It’s not too often that you see two guys at the same position swapped. Alexander has once again been banged up in 2020 as he’s missed the past two games with an ankle injury, although that doesn’t seem like anything too long-term.

New Orleans has an elite defensive front but their linebacking group has left a bit to be desired, so this move makes plenty of sense. They lost A.J. Klein in free agency, and offseason acquisition Nigel Bradham didn’t pan out as he was cut before the season began. Alexander has graded out solidly from Pro Football Focus, but not at the level he was playing last year. Demario Davis is locked into his role at inside linebacker for the Saints, so Alexander could cut into Alex Anzalone‘s role.

The 49ers get some salary relief, the draft pick, and a player in Alonso who stared at least 15 games for Miami from 2016-18. Alonso was placed on the reserve/PUP list at the beginning of the year and missed the first six games. New Orleans then activated him, but he has yet to appear in a game this season. These teams play each other in just a couple of weeks, so both players will get their chance at revenge.

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Saints Cut Margus Hunt, Drop Roster To 53

Here is how the Saints moved their roster down to 53 players Saturday:

Waived:

Released:

Waived/injured:

  • RB Saquan Hamilton

Placed on reserve/PUP:

Placed on IR:

Placed on reserve/suspended list:

The Saints made some notable cuts on their defensive line, dropping Edwards and Hunt. The former played with New Orleans last season, while the latter was an offseason addition. The Colts cut Hunt earlier this year, doing so after previously extending him. However, New Orleans does have Malcom Brown back and re-signed David Onyemata in March. The Saints are pursuing Jadeveon Clowney as well.
Alonso suffered a torn ACL in the playoffs last year. He will miss at least six games. The Saints signed Fowler over the summer. The former Broncos auxiliary receiver worked out with Drew Brees and Emmanuel Sanders during the pandemic-induced NFL hiatus.
Stevens, like most of the players cut Saturday, profiles as a practice squad candidate. The Saints became involved in a strange controversy over the seventh-round pick, whom the Panthers coveted. It will be interesting to see if Carolina submits a waiver claim on Stevens.

Contract Details: Bridgewater, Panthers, Vaitai, Lions, Byrd, Patriots, Brees, Saints

The latest notes on all of the contracts being handed out around the league:

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers: signed. Bridgewater got a three-year deal worth $63MM and a whopping $40MM of that is guaranteed in the first two years, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. He got a $15MM signing bonus to take over for the start of the Matt Rhule era. Newton’s post has the full breakdown on how it’ll be paid out with various workout and roster bonuses.
  • OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Lions: signed. Vaitai’s five-year, $50MM contract includes $20MM guaranteed which will come in the first two years of the deal, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM NFL Radio tweets. Detroit can get out of the pact after that.
  • WR Damiere ByrdPatriots: signed. Byrd’s one-year deal can be worth up to $2.5MM, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network notes in a tweet.
  • QB Drew Brees, Saints: re-signed. Brees’ two-year, $50MM new deal with New Orleans includes a signing bonus of $23MM and a small base salary of only $2MM in year one, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. That structure as well as two voidable years added on for 2022-2023 help keep his 2020 cap hit very low so the Saints can spend more as they gear up for one more Super Bowl with Brees under center.
  • LB Sean Lee, Cowboys: re-signed. Lee is back for one more ride on a one-year, $4.5MM deal with $2MM guaranteed. He actually could earn up to $6.5MM if he hits some playing time incentives, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, although he writes they’re “not-likely-to-be-earned.”
  • S Darian Thompson, Cowboys: re-signed. Thompson is getting a two-year deal worth $2.5MM, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He’s getting a $200K signing bonus and can earn an extra $250K with playing time escalators.
  • WR Cody Core, Giants: re-signed. New York locked up the special teams ace who barely plays on offense, and he got paid handsomely. Core will be getting $4MM over a two-year deal, Wilson tweets. Only $1MM of it is guaranteed however.
  • S Jordan PoyerBills: extension. The full details are in on Poyer’s new pact. Poyer had two new years added on and will now make $22.7MM over the next three years with $13MM of that being guaranteed, Wilson tweets. He also got a $3MM signing bonus. In a separate tweet, Wilson notes that Poyer has an annual $500K interception incentive he can earn.

Contract Details: Nassib, Alonso, Jefferson

Some more contract details from around the league:

  • DE Carl Nassib, Raiders: signed. Three-year, $25MM deal with $17MM guaranteed, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The deal has a max value of $28MM.
  • LB Kiko Alonso, Saints: restructured contract. Base salary reduced from $6.4MM to $1.7MM, $4.7MM available in incentives. Already has $1.45MM roster bonus, meaning he can still hit his previous $7.85MM total via playing-time bonuses. All notes via ESPN’s Mike Triplett on Twitter.
  • DE Quinton Jefferson, Bills: two-year deal. Contract worth $13.5MM total, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Twitter.
  • FB Derek Watt, Steelers: signed. Three-year deal worth $9.75MM, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Twitter.
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Dolphins: one-year deal. Contract worth $3MM, including $2MM signing bonus, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Twitter. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets that there’s up to $500K in playing time incentives.

Saints, Kiko Alonso Restructure Contract

The Saints have agreed to terms on a new deal to bring linebacker Kiko Alonso back into the fold, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. New Orleans acquired Alonso in September in a trade from the Dolphins and had been set to count $8.7MM next season (assuming he was not released). Rapoport added that Alonso’s new deal will fall below that number. The Saints are currently over the salary cap, according to Over The Cap, so other cap saving measures are to be expected.

In 2019, Alonso ranked as the 19th highest graded linebacker by Pro Football Focus out of the 89 qualified players. For the first time since 2015, Alonso was not a primary linebacker, instead, New Orleans deployed him in more specialized sets to take advantage of the veteran’s skillset. In 13 games (4 starts), Alonso recorded 31 tackles (3 for loss), 2 quarterback hits, and 1 pass defended.

The 29-year old was solidly productive before he tore his ACL in the Saints Wild-Card game, but a far cry from the peak of his numbers. From 2016-18, Alonso averaged over 115 tackles per season and started 46 of 48 possible games with the Dolphins.

Saints’ Kiko Alonso Suffers ACL Tear

Saints linebacker Kiko Alonso suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings, sources tell Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The early belief is that he’ll recover in time for the start of the 2020 season, but it’ll be a tough offseason for the linebacker as he approaches his 30th birthday in August. 

This marks the third ACL injury of Alonso’s career. The veteran missed the entire 2014 season with the same injury and suffered a setback in that same knee in 2015.

Alonso is slated to earn $6.375MM in base compensation next year, the final year of his contract. The Saints, in theory, could save $7.85MM against the cap by releasing him, with just $850K left in dead money.

The Saints traded for Alonso in September by shipping Vince Biegel to the Dolphins. In 13 games this year, Alonso recorded 31 tackles and started in just four games.

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Latest On Dolphins’ Trades, Strategy

In addition to moving on from numerous veterans this offseason, the Dolphins have now traded two players who were seemingly building blocks in Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. These moves appear to have tripped the NFL’s alarm.

The Tunsil trade involved numerous Texans offers, with Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reporting the steps the AFC teams took to finalizing the trade that sent the left tackle to Houston. The Texans’ offers went from Jadeveon Clowney-for-Tunsil, straight up, to Clowney and a first-rounder for Tunsil to first- and second-rounders for Tunsil. The Dolphins managed to drive the price to two first-rounders and a second-round selection and requested tackle Julie’n Davenport in return, Salguero notes.

Upon seeing the Texans’ deal-closing offer on a board in Chris Grier‘s office, Tunsil told the Dolphins GM, “I would trade me for that too,” Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald adds (via Twitter).

In reshuffling their power structure after last season, the Dolphins were not planning to jettison Tunsil, Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonso or T.J. McDonald. (The Dolphins dealt Alonso to the Saints and released McDonald.) Brian Flores‘ coaching staff clashed with Alonso, Salguero adds, and asked him to play multiple roles — including edge defender. The Dolphins demoted the highly paid linebacker before trading him.

Fitzpatrick is a Steeler, being dealt after a trade request. The second-year defensive back was not on board with the versatile role the Dolphins asked him to play, and Salguero adds the team never found a sufficient comfort level that would allow Fitzpatrick to settle in at one spot. Both Grier and owner Stephen Ross attempted to help Fitzpatrick and Miami’s coaching staff find common ground.

Myself, Brian, and Steve (Ross) — we had multiple conversations with him, saying we wanted him here and viewed him as a core piece and wanted him here,” Grier said. “The kid just felt it was time for him to move, and we told him what the value was. We told teams we had multiple offers, and we felt that the Pittsburgh one was the one best for the organization.”

Fitzpatrick’s rookie deal was worth $16.447MM over four years. Similar to the deal in which the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen, the Steelers are only on the hook for Fitzpatrick’s base salaries. Pittsburgh has the 2018 No. 11 overall pick under contract through 2021 for $5.48MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).
The Dolphins now hold three 2020 first-round picks. A building suspicion in NFL circles centers on the prospect this Dolphins rebuild may be a stealth effort for Trevor Lawrence in 2021, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. But Salguero adds one of Miami’s three 2020 first-rounders will be used to draft a quarterback — regardless of how Rosen performs in what now may be an extended audition. The Cardinals in 2018-19 and Baltimore Colts in 1982-83 were the most recent franchises to draft first-round passers in consecutive years, so as of now it looks like this oft-labeled tanking strategy is built around Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa (should he enter the 2020 draft).

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New Saints LB Kiko Alonso Adjusts Deal

The Dolphins planned to release linebacker Kiko Alonso until the Saints agreed to a swap sending fellow ‘backer Vince Biegel to South Beach. Before the deal was finalized, Alonso agreed to an adjusted contract to facilitate the trade, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. 

The revised contract will give Alonso a fully-guaranteed $5MM – with no offsets – by next week. The Saints will pay $4MM of that sum while the Dolphins will kick in $1MM. Meanwhile, the last year of his contract remains untouched – Alonso is set to earn $6.4MM in base salary with an $8.2MM cap figure in 2020, though the Saints could escape that year with little financial consequence. Cutting Alonso before the start of the year would save $6.4MM against the cap with just $1.76MM in dead money.

Traditional metrics portray Alonso as a solid linebacker who can defend against the pass. But, despite his five interceptions over the last three years, he gets little love from the advanced metrics for his coverage ability.

Algorithms, schmalgorithms, is what the Saints say. Alonso’s help will be greatly appreciated in New Orleans while Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson continue to heal up from injury.

Dolphins Trade Kiko Alonso To Saints

The Dolphins aren’t cutting linebacker Kiko Alonso after all. We heard yesterday that Miami was releasing Alonso, which suggested the club’s efforts to trade him had been fruitless. However, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports that the Fins are trading Alonso to the Saints (Twitter link), and Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets that New Orleans is sending back LB Vince Biegel.

For Alonso, this is good news from a competitive and financial standpoint. Since he was traded rather than released, he remains tied to his $6.48MM salary for 2019, for which the Saints are now on the hook. Plus, New Orleans is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, while Miami is in the middle of a complete teardown.

Alonso has started every game in which he has appeared for the Dolphins since joining the team in 2016, compiling 354 tackles and five interceptions over that time. However, despite the nice interception total, he generally struggles in coverage and is not especially well-regarded by advanced metrics.

He can be effective when deployed properly, and he will join a Saints defense that also includes A.J. KleinAlex Anzalone, and Demario Davis. He will provide solid depth if nothing else, but given the salary the team is taking on, it seems that New Orleans plans to give him a significant role. Plus, Anzalone and Craig Robertson haven’t practiced in some time, and Klein missed practice all of last week, so the Saints needed a plug-and-play LB.

Biegel, who has just 14 career tackles to his name, was used as an edge rusher and as a linebacker in the preseason, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com tweets. The Dolphins may have been intrigued by his versatility, but it’s not as though they had a ton of leverage to ask for a more established player or for draft picks. Biegel appeared primarily on special teams for the Saints in 2018, but he will have the opportunity to earn a larger role with the Fins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.