Alonso, who tore the ACL in his right knee in the Saints’ playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings, was scheduled to earn $7.85 million in the final year of his contract in 2020.
The size of Alonso’s pay cut was not immediately known, but he can still earn the full $7.85 million through playing-time incentives, according to the source. The NFL Network was the first to report the agreement.
The Saints needed to carve out some salary-cap space after agreeing to new deals with quarterback Drew Brees and defensive tackle David Onyemata. They began the week with less than $10 million in cap space (though Brees was already on the books for $15.9 million in “dead money” from his previous deal).
Alonso, 29, proved to be a valuable addition in a part-time role for the Saints last season, after they acquired him in a September trade with the Miami Dolphins. If he fully recovers from his knee injury, he can help fill the void after former Saints linebacker A.J. Klein agreed to a deal with the Buffalo Bills on Monday.
Alonso became the Saints’ primary middle linebacker in base formations last season after the team lost starter Alex Anzalone to a shoulder injury in Week 2. His playing time increased to 33 snaps per game when he was healthy in the second half of the season. The 6-foot-3, 239-pounder had a total of 20 tackles and one batted pass in the final four games of the regular season.
Alonso also tore his right ACL in college and his left ACL heading into his second season with the Bills in 2014. He bounced back well enough from both injuries to have a productive career with the Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Dolphins and Saints.
Alonso finished second in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, with 159 tackles and four interceptions, after the Bills drafted him in the second round out of Oregon. He had at least 115 tackles in three straight seasons with Miami from 2016 to 2018.