As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Miami Dolphins are set to acquire linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Bryon Maxwell from the Philadelphia Eagles for unspecified draft compensation.
The trade is the first big NFL move in 2016 with free agency set to begin at 4 pm on March 9th. This move may come as a surprise to Philadelphia fans seeing how Alonso and Maxwell were two of the team’s four major pickups during the 2015 offseason (DeMarco Murray, Sam Bradford), but it also makes sense as the Eagles were in a bad place with their salary cap. As for fans of the Dolphins, they may have been able to see something like this coming after the team restructured defensive tackle Ndomakung Suh’s massive contract last week to clear cap space.
The letting go of Alonso and Maxwell means that the Philadelphia Eagles are seemingly trying to start over and bring themselves out of salary cap hell, as Maxwell held a $8,500,000 cap hit and Alonso was up for a new contract and was likely going to demand big money. The LeSean McCoy trade which sent Alonso to Philadelphia last offseason now looks pretty awful for the Eagles as they now hold none of the assets they gave up for McCoy. It appears as if Philly decided to cut its losses and try to improve for the future as with the new cap space the team could be in line to sign a key free agent wideout such as Anquan Boldin or Jermaine Kearse after their current group of Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper (released from team), Nelson Agholor, and Josh Huff almost seemed invisible in 2015.
The restructuring of the Suh contract means that the Dolphins will be able to afford Bryon Maxwell’s contract and sign Kiko Alonso to big money, but now the question becomes whether or not the Dolphins try to re-sign running back Lamar Miller, and cornerback Brent Grimes who are both set to hit the free agent market. With Jay Ajayi locked into his rookie deal and having moments of shine in 2015, it may be wise for the Dolphins to let Miller walk and make the re-signing of Grimes their top priority in order to solidify their secondary.
Miami is certainly taking a big risk here as Alonso holds a history of knee issues and Maxwell was very disappointing in his lone season with Philadelphia in 2015 after coming over from Seattle. If both Alonso and Maxwell can play up to their pay grade (assuming Alonso is signed to big money) then Miami’s defense could become a legitimate force in the AFC, but until Maxwell and Alonso prove themselves while wearing the teal and orange there will be major question marks surrounding them. Nevertheless, the Dolphins now seemingly have a solid defensive core with Suh, Alonso, Maxwell, Olivier Vernon (transition tag), and Cameron Wake (torn Achilles in 2015). Get ready for more free agency chaos as the week progresses.
Information from Pro-Football-Reference was used in this report.