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. He will now earn a $1.45 million roster bonus and a $1.7 million base salary, with the other $4.7 million being converted to incentives that he can earn based on playing time, according to sources. The NFL Network was the first to report that he had agreed to a reduced deal.
The exact details were not immediately known on Robinson’s agreement, which was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates. Robinson was scheduled to earn $4.9 million this season and $5 million in 2021.
The Saints needed to carve out some salary-cap space after agreeing to new deals with quarterback Drew Brees and defensive tackle David Onyemata. New Orleans 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 year, after they acquired him in a September trade with the Miami Dolphins. And if he is able to fully recover from his knee injury, he can help fill the void after veteran 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 they lost starter Alex Anzalone to a shoulder injury in Week 2. Alonso’s playing time increased to 33 snaps per game when he was healthy over the second half of the season. The 6-foot-3, 239-pounder had a total of 20 tackles and one batted pass over 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. But 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 being drafted in the second round out of Oregon. He later had at least 115 tackles in three straight seasons with Miami, from 2016 to 2018.
Robinson, 32, is in his second stint with the Saints. He battled inconsistency early in his career after New Orleans drafted him with the 32nd pick in 2010. But then he established himself as one of the NFL’s better slot cornerbacks during three seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Eagles, before returning to New Orleans on a four-year, $20 million contract in 2018.
Unfortunately, the 5-11, 191-pounder suffered a broken left ankle early in the 2018 season that landed him on injured reserve. And when Robinson returned in 2019, he was unable to beat out fellow veteran P.J. Williams for the nickelback job.
Robinson played sparingly last season, seeing more than 10 snaps in only three games as an injury replacement. But he could return to a prominent role if the Saints don’t re-sign cornerbacks Eli Apple and Williams in free agency.