Ex-Bills LB Signs With Saints, Making NFL Comeback After 2 Years Away

Kiko Alonso

Getty Kiko Alonso celebrates a play in a Buffalo Bills game.

After spending the last two seasons away from the NFL, Kiko Alonso is ready to make a comeback.

The former Buffalo Bills linebacker has signed with the New Orleans Saints, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on August 4. Alonso had a workout with the Saints that day, and reportedly earned a contract and a chance to try out for a spot on the final roster. If Alonso can pull it off, it will be the first time he has stepped onto an NFL field since the end of the 2019-20 season.

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Alonso Part of Bills History

The 31-year-old linebacker had a strong start to his NFL career in 2013. After the Bills snagged him with a second overall pick, Alonso led the team with 159 tackles and four interceptions in his rookie season. Alonso finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting that year, and appeared to have a promising future with the Bills but would never play another season with the team.

Alonso was shipped to the Philadelphia Eagles the following offseason in a somewhat surprising one-for-one trade for running back LeSean McCoy. The trade was a boon for the Bills, who put together one of the league’s best rushing attacks with McCoy. He also helped the team to snap its 17-year playoff drought in 2017 as he racked up 1,586 yards from scrimmage with eight total touchdowns.

Alonso would go on to have some checkered history with the Bills after his departure. In a 2018 game, when Alonso was playing for the Miami Dolphins, he was ejected for a late hit on Bills quarterback Josh Allen as he was sliding. The play kicked off a scrum between the teams.

Guard Ike Boettger, who jumped onto Alonso after the hit, said he wanted to protect his rookie quarterback.

“You see Josh put his body on the line every week, and when you see somebody take a shot at him like that, you’ve got to protect him,” Boettger said, via the Buffalo News. “That’s our mindset forever since I’ve played offensive line. It wasn’t even a question what Josh was trying to do. If they’re going to take a shot like that at the quarterback, you’ve got to defend him.”

Alonso’s Chance for a Comeback

In early 2020, it appeared as if Alonso’s career could be coming to an end. In the Saints’ playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings on January 6, the linebacker suffered a torn ACL in his right knee — the third time he had torn an ACL since college and the second time on his right knee. Alonso had appeared in 13 games in his last NFL season in 2019, making 25 tackles and defending one pass.

As SI.com’s Saints News Network noted, the team was in need of more linebacker depth for training camp and expected to look for at least one veteran addition. Alonso will likely be battling for a spot behind established Demario Davis and Pete Werner. There will be some competition, as New Orleans drafted D’Marco Jackson this year and brought in undrafted rookies Nephi Sewell and Isaiah Pryor, who are both converted safeties.

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