The 49ers have made a massive move at the 2020 trade deadline and it’s not as buyers. They just offloaded an enormous contract in the form of linebacker Kwon Alexander, who did not play Sunday, but was close to a return from an ankle injury.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he was traded to the New Orleans Saints. Per Schefter, the 49ers seem to be getting a surprising haul, given the size of Alexander’s contract and the serious injuries and frequency with which he’s been injured over the last three years.
49ers are acquiring a conditional 5th-round pick and likely a player in exchange for LB Kwon Alexander, per source. https://t.co/z3JjE6jiz9
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 2, 2020
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, in addition to the fifth-round pick, the 49ers will get linebacker Kiko Alonso, a 30-year-old linebacker due $4.0 million this season (and pro-rated to about half that).
That explains how the Saints, who are notorious for flaunting the limits of the salary cap and pressed up against it (listed by the NFLPA as having $7.85 million in space), can afford Alexander’s cap hit, which is pro-rated down from his initial $7.62 million figure to roughly $3 million. Alonso, who was a former 46th overall pick in 2013 and a Los Gatos, California native, is a free agent after this season.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 2, 2020
Alexander had one of the worst contracts on the 49ers’ roster, and with the emergence of Dre Greenlaw, and the team’s switch to nickel around 70 percent of the team, he quickly became an expensive surplus to requirements.
He had his contract restructured last year, increasing the dead cap hit on his deal in the future. If he was cut in the offseason, he’d have had a $6,908,935 dead cap hit. If he remained on the roster, he’d be due $15.57 million in 2021 and $15.67 million in 2022. It seemed exceedingly likely he’d be cut this offseason.
According to OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald, the 49ers will still eat that $6.9 million dead cap next year, which is a result of the team guaranteeing Alexander more money in a contract restructure. That, being a second contract restructure. The 49ers very, very recently restructured both Alexander and Weston Richburg’s contracts for a second time.
#49ers will take on $6.9M in dead money next year and will have wound up paying about $23.5M for 13 games. Was a very risky and surprising deal when signed so smart to bail and save a few dollars for the season
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) November 2, 2020
It appears the immediate benefit of the trade is to net a fifth-round pick for a player they were bound to cut, and to shed some salary space this year, which they can roll over into next year’s cap. They still shave more than $8.6 million off the cap in 2021 by moving him, and at least an additional $1 million from the difference in Alexander’s contract to Alonso’s.
Effectively, this nets a fifth-rounder and a tad bit more cap space for a player destined to be cut.
Before his recent ankle sprain, Alexander looked much more like he did at the start of last season, as an efficient edge tackler and solid coverage linebacker. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 49ers wanted to trade him after the Super Bowl, but he underwent bicep surgery in the offseason.
The Niners likely would have traded Kwon Alexander after the Super Bowl last year, but he ended up having surgery. Now that he’s healthy, they do it now. Shed the salary and move on. https://t.co/M74BwATLHr
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 2, 2020