Seahawks trade for DJ Alexander was “upside play” for Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Running back Christine Michael
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Running back Christine Michael /

We asked Matt Connor of Arrowhead Addict, FanSided’s Kansas City Chiefs blog, some questions about newly-traded-for D.J. Alexander.

The Seahawks traded four-year linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis to the Chiefs on Friday in a trade that appears to be backup linebacker for backup linebacker. Both players do play special teams, however, and do so pretty well. But what was the need to make this move?

We got a better understanding of why this trade occurred with Matt Connor. Matt is an expert at Arrowhead Addict and watched Armstrong become a Pro Bowl special teams player last season.

Why did the Chiefs trade a player they had under control for the next two seasons at a low rate for a one-year player?

The Pro Bowl nod given to D.J. Alexander is going to glisten before anything else about either player, but the good amount of Chiefs fans will know it’s as much about Dave Toub’s coaching acumen as it is Alexander’s play. Toub’s coverage units are second to none, so someone is always going to look great as a S/T performer. That said, Alexander is an excellent addition on special teams and I’d never want to take away from that fact.

From my perspective, this is entirely an upside play for the Chiefs. The Chiefs only employ one inside linebacker most of the time, despite running a 3-4, because they’re often in nickel and dime sub-packages where they end up using extra safeties in the box more than another linebacker. In the base defense, Alexander earned a start when other options went down last year and it lasted a single game. He was replaced as the starting ILB by a street free agent just seven days later. That tells you all you need to know about Alexander’s ability to be anything more than a special teams ace.

The cost argument is a good one, so the Chiefs have to likely believe they can get something more out of Pierre-Louis than they could Alexander. Alexander is on the cheap through 2018 and is already a dependable S/T player who can sub in a pinch. He also already knows the playbook. That said, new Chiefs GM Brett Veach clearly thinks highly of Pierre-Louis to forgo all of this.

If Alexander was still with the Seahawks today, what would be his role and expectations heading into 2017?

Returning special teams ace with the ability to provide some (below average) depth at inside linebacker.

Was Alexander hurt by the depth in front of him, or did he just fail to step up in a way?

Derrick Johnson’s presence was always going to keep one inside linebacker spot locked down. The Chiefs drafted Ramik Wilson one round before Alexander and let both compete in the middle. Wilson always had the edge in terms of reps at inside linebacker, but neither one kept the Chiefs from returning to veteran Josh Mauga over and over—a poor sign considering Mauga is a pretty average performer. Perhaps the Seahawks can unlock something, but this is likely only about solidifying the return coverage units.

Related Story: More on the Seahawks-Chiefs trade in Friday's notes...

What should Seahawks fans expect moving ahead?

If special teams has been a concern, Alexander will be a great fit and reliable performer for sure. He’s also cost-controlled through 2018 for a total cost of $1.4M for the next 2 seasons.