After a disastrous campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, Kiko Alonso has somehow become a really, really good linebacker in Miami.
While the move was almost immediately panned universally, even though Kelly flipped one of the least valuable positions in the league for one of the most valuable, there was also pockets of excitement throughout the 215 because, well, Alonso was like really, really good in Buffalo as a rookie.
Alonso’s ‘legendary‘ rookie campaign made him a bit of a folk hero in Western New York and looked like the kind of player that could anchor a defensive front at weakside linebacker for a decade plus.
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Unfortunately, that didn’t happen – at least not in Philadelphia.
Stuck behind incumbent starters DeMeco Ryans and Mychael Kendricks, Alonso only started one game over 11 appearances for the Eagles in 2015 – recording a career-low 43 tackles and one interception on 472 defensive snaps (38.8 percent).
And somehow, things didn’t get better in his fourth professional season.
Reunited with Jim Schwartz, whose scheme he learned in 2014 before suffering a torn ACL in the offseason, many hoped that Alonso would surpass his rookie production with a move to weakside linebacker, but alas, it was not meant to be.
After an underwhelming training camp, stuck behind Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, and another ex-Bill Nigel Bradham, Alonso looked like he’d be trapped on the bench while McCoy looked primed for another Pro Bowl appearance.
But then Howie Roseman, re-empowered after the Kelly-tenure, pulled off a surprise trade that changed the trajectory of the Eagles forever.
In pursuit of a top-2 pick, Roseman flipped Alonso, the 13th overall pick, and failed Kelly free agent signee Byron Maxwell to the Miami Dolphins for the eight overall pick; a pick they’d eventually trade yet again for the second overall pick (Carson Wentz).
Now in hindsight, the Eagles clearly won this deal, as they ended up with the best overall player, even though Laremy Tunsil has become a pretty great left tackle, but Alonso’s really come into his own as a member of the Dolphins and once again looks like a legendary performer at weakside linebacker.
With three straight 114-plus tackles seasons under his belt, Alonso has started every game he’s appeared in for the Dolphins since 2016, and at 28-years-old, it looks he still has plenty of his best football left to play.
Though he’s hardly an effective blitzer – having only recorded three sacks in his career (one in Miami) – Alonso has further established himself as one of the leagues best coverage linebackers; recording 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, and 16 passes defensed over 73 professional games.
You know what team could really use a player like Alonso? The Philadelphia Eagles.
With only one linebacker on their roster with starting experience, Alonso could vault up the Eagles weakside linebacker depth chart and become an every-down linebacker for Schwartz both in base defense and kicked inside as a coverage linebacker in the nickel and even the dime.
Well, he is entering the final year of a three-year, $25 million deal, so I guess a reunion could be in the cards for 2020 if Schwartz and Alonso could reconnect.
So despite making the right call trading him to Miami alongside Byron Maxwell for the pick that eventually became Carson Wentz, Kiko Alonso has returned to the ranks of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, and while it may never translate to a Pro Bowl appearance, it will keep him gainfully employed for the foreseeable future. In hindsight, maybe Chip Kelly was right to make that trade after all.