Saints: 4 remaining free agents with connections to New Orleans
By Kristen Wong
2. Kwon Alexander
It’s a tale as old as time: player suffers season-ending injury, team cuts him loose.
But the story could be different for Kwon Alexander. Despite tearing his ACL late last season, Alexander remains one of the most coveted linebackers in free agency. Re-signing him just makes sense for the Saints.
Assuming Alexander recovers well from his injury (and he seems to be rehabbing just fine), he provides proven talent and experience and fills what would otherwise be a gaping hole in the New Orleans’ defense.
Ever since the Saints traded with the 49ers for him last year, Alexander blossomed alongside Demario Davis to anchor the Saints’ defensive line and form one of the most dependable duos in the league.
Alexander played at least 74 percent of the defensive snaps in four of his first six games with the Saints. Ex-Saints linebacker Kiko Alonso, who the Saints traded for Alexander, never ended up playing a down for the 49ers. So San Francisco lost that trade pretty badly.
In 2020, prior to his injury, Alexander recorded 57 tackles, four pass deflections, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. Sure, those numbers aren’t anywhere close to his Pro Bowl ones on Tampa in 2017, but the Saints will need Alexander’s expertise and playmaking boost to make a deep run in the postseason.
Currently, second-year pro Zack Baun and rookie draft pick Pete Werner are competing for the second linebacker spot next to Davis. Neither of those players can give New Orleans what Alexander can: reliability.
Yes, it’s ironic. 2020 marked the fourth consecutive season Alexander played 12 games or fewer because of injury, but he’s also shown how well he can rebound from injury.
What’s that saying….it’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get up? When the 2021 season rolls around, Alexander will come back stronger from injury: he’s a bonafide tried-and-tested warrior in the Saints linebacker unit, and New Orleans would be wise to keep him around.