Kiko Alonso

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).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Dolphins Cut Kiko Alonso

The Dolphins cut Kiko Alonso en route to reaching the 53-man max. Both moves were rumored this week, but the Fins were waiting to see if they could arrange a trade for the linebackers before letting them go.

Alonso requested a trade during training camp when he realized that he would be squeezed out of the Dolphins’ plans in one fashion or another. New coach Brian Flores is overseeing a defensive overhaul and he didn’t have much use for the veteran, despite his three years of starting experience in Miami. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso won’t play out the two years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.

Here are the other moves made by Miami to make their roster kosher by Week 1:

AFC East Notes: Gronk, Alonso, Clowney

Ever since Rob Gronkowski announced his decision to retire, rumors have swirled of a potential comeback to the Patriots. Gronk himself hasn’t done much to tamp down the speculation, notably leaving the door open in a press conference a few days ago. The legendary tight end recently did an interview with Jeff Howe of The Athletic, and dropped even more hints that he’d be ready to play. “My body feels good. I can even take it further physically, and I could play right now,” Gronkowski said.

However, he also cautioned that his heart isn’t in it right now when asked what it would take to get him to come back. “Mentally, the desire to play just isn’t there. I would have to literally just feel that desire – just feel that mentally, that desire to play, to be back out there. Like someone is calling my name, I would have to feel that inside. I would have to feel that on a consistent basis. That’s the way I would entertain coming back to football.” The former Patriots star also revealed that he currently weighs about 20 pounds less than his usual playing weight, although he did say it would be “easy” to put it back on.

Here’s more from the AFC East on a busy day around the league:

  • We heard last weekend that the Dolphins were shopping linebacker Kiko Alonso, and now we have more details. It was apparently Alonso who requested a trade during training camp, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rival organizations reportedly expect Alonso to be cut, which is hurting his trade value. Miami is starting completely fresh with new coach Brian Flores, and many of the team’s veterans are getting purged. Both sides apparently want to move on, so it would be a shock at this point if Alonso is on the team in 2019. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso has started at least 15 games in all three of his years as a Dolphin. He has two more years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.
  • It looks like Jadeveon Clowney won’t be going to the Dolphins, but they aren’t the only AFC East team interested. The Jets are apparently in the mix too, although you shouldn’t count on them landing the former first overall pick. Although New York is interested, “there may be far too many obstacles on both sides” to complete a deal, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “I’m not sure how much the Jets really want him, or how much (Clowney) wants them,” one rival exec told Vacchiano. “It’s hard to see Joe (Douglas, the Jets GM) going crazy for a player like him, especially just for a year. It doesn’t look like there’s a match.” Clowney’s reported preferred destinations are Seattle or Philadelphia.
  • Good news for the Bills, as Mitch Morse has officially cleared the concussion protocol, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Bills made upgrading the offensive line a priority this offseason, and Morse was one of their biggest acquisitions. He’s been dealing with this concussion for most of the summer, so this is great news that he’s been cleared. Morse has a history of concussions, and other injuries have limited him to just 18 games over the past two years. When healthy, he’s one of the best centers in the league, and he should provide a big boost for Josh Allen.

Dolphins Notes: Clowney, Grant, Alonso

The Dolphins believe they are the favorites to land Texans star Jadeveon Clowney, but Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com believes that Miami would have to increase Clowney’s tag number (currently just under $16MM) to something in the $20MM+ range to land the former No. 1 overall pick (Twitter link). Fitzgerald suggests that the Dolphins may not be interested in giving Clowney the long-term deal he wants and could be looking to trade a second-round pick for Clowney this year and flipping him for a first-rounder next year.

Let’s take a quick swing around South Beach:

  • Wide receiver Jakeem Grant‘s extension was reported as a four-year, $24MM pact, but NFL Insider Adam Caplan says the base value is actually $19.7MM (Twitter link). The total value could increase to $24MM with Pro Bowl incentives. The contract includes $7.5MM in guaranteed money, only $3.72MM of which is fully guaranteed.
  • The Dolphins are said to be shopping linebacker Kiko Alonso, though rival teams expect him to be cut. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that head coach Brian Flores was non-committal when asked about the status of Alonso and tight end Dwayne Allen, both of whom have battled injuries this summer. Alonso returned to practice on a limited basis Sunday, and while Jackson says Miami could very well keep him around in 2019, it would not be surprising if both Alonso and Allen were released.
  • More from Jackson, who suggests that edge rusher Nate Orchard is on the roster bubble. Though Flores didn’t elaborate, he said “this will be a big week” for Orchard. It sounds as if one of last year’s “Hard Knocks” stars could find his way onto the 53-man roster with a strong performance in Miami’s last preseason game.
  • The Dolphins’ QB competition between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick remains open.

Dolphins Shopping LB Kiko Alonso, S Reshad Jones

In the midst of a rebuild, the Dolphins are shopping some of their older players. Barry Jackson and Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald report that Miami has dangled several of their veterans in trade talks.

However, one of the players who hasn’t been shopped is offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Earlier today, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported (via Twitter) that the Dolphins were shopping the 25-year-old, but Jackson and Beasley write that the organization has “assured the Tunsil camp that there is no truth to that.”

Jackson and Beasley note that the front office has received calls about Tunsil, but the team hasn’t acted on any of the inquiries. Further, the reporters write that they personally received a call from a credible source who said “Tunsil’s name had come up in trade discussions,” but it was uncertain whether the Dolphins initiated the calls.

It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Dolphins to move on from Tunsil. The former first-rounder has established himself as an up-and-coming lineman, and he’s under team control for another two seasons. Plus, the team is looking to build their offensive line as they prepare for the future with either Josh Rosen or a 2020 rookie under center. Moving on from one of their assets would contradict that logic.

While Tunsil might not be on the block, the Dolphins have been shopping safety Reshad Jones and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Jackson and Beasley write that rival organizations are expecting Alonso and wideout Kenny Stills to be cut, limiting Miami’s trade flexibility. The Dolphins would also consider offers for linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who could be pushed for playing time by Sam Eguavoen.

The organization kicked off their rebuild this past offseason by moving on from a number of veteran players, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill and linebacker Cameron Wake. The team currently owns 13 draft picks in the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Texans, Dolphins, Alonso, Kaep

A number of Texans players — including wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back D’Onta Foreman — left practice today following franchise owner Bob McNair‘s comments in an ESPN The Magazine article, in which he compared national anthem protests to “inmates running the prison,” according to Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Some of the players who left practice ultimately returned, but the Houston coaching staff had to convince the team not to stage a full-scale walkout. Head coach Bill O’Brien — who says he is “100% behind” his players — later staged a 90-minute meeting in which players could engage in “candid conversation,” per Barshop. Left tackle Duane Brown called the comments “ignorant” and “embarrassing,” and said “the situation’s not over,” an indication further protests or other repercussions could be coming.

Here’s more from around the league:

Dolphins Looked At Mychal Kendricks Before Kiko Alonso Trade

When the Dolphins and Eagles discussed the seminal trade that ended up giving Miami Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell and the Eagles the No. 8 pick in the 2016 draft, Philadelphia brass gave the south Florida franchise a list of players they were willing to offer.

Mychal Kendricks appeared on the list, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins preferred Alonso to Kendricks and ended up making sure the former Bills standout only played one season with the Eagles. While the Dolphins signed Alonso to an extension, Kendricks hovered on the 2017 trade block.

Salguero reports the Dolphins studied Kendricks, who was a full-time player for the Chip Kelly-era Eagles before being relegated to a part-timer under new DC Jim Schwartz. Kendricks said in July he requested a trade out of Philly, but his 2017 salary became guaranteed earlier this year.

Dolphins executive VP Mike Tannenbaum also received reassurance on Maxwell, who did not show much with the Eagles, from Dan Quinn — Maxwell’s DC for part of his years in Seattle. The rangy corner became the player the Dolphins prioritized in this deal — one that helped the Eagles move from No. 13 to No. 8, putting them in better position to make the Carson Wentz trade with the Browns — but the team wanted more, per Salguero, prompting Miami to scan Philadelphia’s linebacker depth chart.

The Dolphins preferred Alonso to Kendricks because of his appeal as a three-down linebacker, Salguero notes. Kendricks is signed through the 2019 season but sits behind Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham in Philly’s linebacker hierarchy; Hicks and Bradham function as the Eagles’ nickel ‘backers.

Kendricks is attached to cap numbers of $6.6MM (2017), $7.6MM (’18) and $8.6MM (’19). Alonso’s extension ended up being for nearly the exact same amount as the Eagles signed Kendricks to more than 18 months earlier. The Miami outside ‘backer signed a four-year, $28.9MM re-up more than a year after Kendricks signed for four years and $29MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Bengals, Raiders, Fins, Colts

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson took to Instagram in an effort to combat a recent report that he’s “terribly out of shape” (via Connor Hughes of NJ.com). “They say I’m fat and out of shape?” Wilkerson said while running on a treadmill. “Haha. Keep sleeping on me. I’m telling you.” It seems the scout who assessed Wilkerson’s conditioning was exaggerating, as photos (links here) the 27-year-old posted on Instagram earlier this month shoot down the idea that he’s in poor shape. Still, though, Wilkerson is coming off a disappointing 2016 – the first season of a five-year, $86MM contract – and could end up a cap casualty as early as next offseason if he doesn’t bounce back. Wilkerson notched 4.5 sacks last year (down from 12 in 2015) and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 15th-worst qualified edge defender (109 qualifiers).

More from the AFC:

  • Bengals cornerback Adam Jones is no longer facing a felony charge over a January confrontation with hotel security guards, police and a nurse, reports Lisa Cornwell of the Associated Press. The felony charge resulted from Jones’ alleged “harassment of a member of the medical staff in the justice center with a bodily substance.” Specifically, Jones was accused of spitting on a nurse at the jail. If found guilty, he could have gone to jail for six to 12 months. Jones is still up against three misdemeanor charges, including assault, and the Bengals aren’t sure if they’re going to retain him.
  • One of Jones’ Bengals teammates, reserve quarterback A.J. McCarron, wouldn’t mind a trade out of Cincinnati. But Andy Dalton‘s backup isn’t going to cause problems if the Bengals don’t deal him to a starter-needy team. On the possibility of once again reporting to camp in a No. 2 role, McCarron told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer: “It’d be tough at first. Like, because I know I’m having to go through the whole backup process again. But at the same time, that’s my job. I need to be the best backup quarterback in the league and I’m going to go there and work my [butt] off to prove that and show that I am so that they’re proud, as an organization, to sit back and say at practice if they’re watching ‘like man, I’m glad we had that guy as our backup.’ I still want to make everybody proud.” McCarron, though, expects to end up a starter sometime. “Whether it’s this year or when I’m a free agent, I think somebody’s going to take a chance on me to be a starter,” said McCarron, who’s under Bengals control for two more years.
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reached out to commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday night about continuing the discussion to keep the Raiders, a source tells Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (on Twitter). There has been no significant progress on that front, however. Despite Schaaf’s efforts, it appears the Raiders’ departure from Oakland is inevitable.
  • Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso‘s three-year extension adds an even $25MM to the $3.91MM he’ll earn in 2017, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The $28.91MM deal includes $16MM in fully guaranteed money for Alonso, who’s now slated to remain with the Dolphins through the 2020 season.
  • Wide receiver Kamar Aiken‘s one-year pact with the Colts is worth $2.6MM – $1.5MM of which is guaranteed – and features up to $600K in per-game roster bonuses, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.