Tagged in: playoff run

San Francisco 49ers trade LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints continued their aggressive approach toward the 2020 season by obtaining linebacker Kwon Alexander from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.

Both linebackers are on the mend from injuries. Alexander missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain but returned to practice last week. Alonso, meanwhile, has not played yet this season after tearing his ACL in January. But he also returned to practice last month.

The 49ers signed Alexander to a four-year, $54 million contract as a free agent from Tampa Bay last campaign. But Alexander, 26, was limited last year by a torn pectoral muscle before returning for their playoff run.

This was a way for the 49ers to shed salary because they like their depth at the position — specifically second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who has started in Alexander’s place whenever he has been injured.

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The Saints, meanwhile, have one of the NFL’s best run defenses.

But the athletic 6-foot-1, 227-pounder should help their pass coverage while playing alongside All-Pro Demario Davis. Both players are Mike/Will linebacker hybrids.

Coach Sean Payton stated Monday the Saints envision Alexander as a Will linebacker, where he will compete for playing time with current starter Alex Anzalone while Davis plays more of the Mike linebacker role.

Payton said it would be difficult for Alexander to play Sunday night at Tampa Bay because of the five-day onboarding process that is required. But Payton said the “goal” is for Alexander to be able to suit up in Week 10 — versus the 49ers of all teams in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints can easily afford Alexander’s deal for the rest of this season, as he is due less than $1 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses over their final nine matches. However, they will have a decision to make next year before Alexander is due an additional $13.4 million in salary and bonuses.

Only $2 million is guaranteed for injury-only. Alexander is due another $13.5 million in 2022, none of which is guaranteed.

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Tennessee Titans LT Taylor Lewan confirms he suffered torn ACL

The Titans look primed to make another deep playoff run. But they’re going to have to do it without one of their better players.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan confirmed via Twitter that he suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s 42-36 overtime victory over the Texans. The three-time Pro Bowler went down in the second quarter of the OT thriller in which Tennessee managed to remain undefeated. An MRI on Monday confirmed he’s now lost for the season.

The Titans later placed Lewan on injured reserve and activated wide receiver Corey Davis from the reserve/COVID-19 list. “Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m going to handle this rehab like a Pro and come back better than ever,” Lewan posted on social media.

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The Titans can’t afford to sulk either.

They need to figure out Lewan’s replacement. Ty Sambrailo took over the blind side Sunday and proceeded to get beat off the edge by J.J. Watt, leading to a strip-sack of Ryan Tannehill.

Of course, Tennessee’s offense would recover. Tannehill added to his two early touchdown passes with two more, while Derrick Henry rumbled for 212 yards and a pair of late scores.

Maybe the Titans are fine. They’ve boasted one of the league’s best offenses thus far, despite Lewan’s slow start to his seventh campaign. He’s currently graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 49 tackle among those with at least 200 snaps. He rated no worse than 22nd in the previous five seasons.

His successor will be filling big shoes regardless. Sambrailo, a 2015 second-round pick by the Broncos, has never started more than four matches in a season.

Tennessee drafted offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson No. 29 overall in April but he’s spent most of the season on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The rookie was removed Oct. 10. He also was a right tackle in college.

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