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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