Photo by @AroundTheNFL (Twitter).
- The New Orleans Saints have addressed a major defensive need by acquiring LB Kwon Alexander in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers
- The former Pro Bowler is expected to bolster a Saints defense that has surrendered 19 TD passes
- Oddsmakers have not shifted the team’s Super Bowl odds
With the NFL trade deadline just 24 hours away, the New Orleans Saints have made a big splash, pulling the trigger on a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire linebacker Kwon Alexander in exchange for Kiko Alonso and a conditional fifth-round draft pick.
While the move bolsters the team’s front seven, it has failed to move the Saints in the Super Bowl odds, where they remain stalled at +1300.
Odds to Win Super Bowl 55
|Kansas City Chiefs||+350|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+750|
|Green Bay Packers||+1200|
|New Orleans Saints||+1300|
|Los Angeles Rams||+2500|
Odds taken November 2, 2020.
Saints Fill Void on Defense
The addition of Alexander fills a void in the middle of the Saints defense, where Demario Davis has carried the burden through the first half of the season. Alexander brings the versatility of a sideline-to-sideline linebacker; however, the former Tampa Bay star will have to stay healthy the rest of the way for the Saints to consider the trade a win.
Kwon Alexander heads to the #Saints after earning the following 2020 grades with San Fran:
• 55.4 OVR
• 65.7 Run Def.
• 73.5 Pass Rush
• 42.9 Cov.
He has spent 253 snaps this season as a LB, 46 lined up in the slot, and 18 on the edge. pic.twitter.com/0E9kL6T9Ib
— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) November 2, 2020
Alexander emerged as an All-Pro defender during three standout seasons in Tampa Bay, but injuries have become a constant concern over the past two years. The 26-year-old was limited to just six appearances in his final year with the Bucs in 2018 before cashing in by signing a massive four-year, $54 million deal with the 49ers in 2019.
Alexander Arrives with Big Contract, Long Injury History
However, Alexander’s injury woes followed him to San Francisco, with a torn pectoral muscle forcing him to miss the second half of the 2019 regular season.
His injury woes have persisted this season. Hobbled by an ankle injury suffered in the Niners’ crushing 43-17 loss in Miami in Week 5, Alexander has been sidelined since, but showed dramatic improvement in his return to practice last week.
NFL News: #49ers OLB Kwon Alexander underwent surgery to repair a biceps injury today (wonder if it’s partially torn) after coming off IR from a torn pectoral muscle earlier in the year. (h/t @RapSheet)
*A good player, Alexander also has been injury-prone (2018 torn ACL).
— Ryan Sakamoto (@BEASTwriter_) February 15, 2020
Kwon Alexander signed a 4-year, $54 million contract with $27 million guaranteed last year with the #49ers
He gets traded less than 2 seasons into the deal. https://t.co/fAxhrDQgWP
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 2, 2020
While Alexander comes with obvious risks and a massive contract, he represents a solid upgrade to a Saints defense that has particularly struggled against the pass. New Orleans has surrendered 19 passing touchdowns through the first eight weeks – second-worst in the NFL – and will need to turn things around quickly ahead of next week’s road date with the surging Buccaneers.
That need has become even more urgent after DT Sheldon Rankins suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win over Chicago that is expected to put him on the shelf for up to three weeks.
Injuries, Brees’ Decline Raise Concerns on Offense
Perhaps the biggest factor in the Saints’ lack of movement in the Super Bowl odds is lingering concerns on offense. The New Orleans receiving corps has been devastated by injuries, most notably to Michael Thomas, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury in Week 1.
Saints WRs Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway were both present for practice Friday. But Thomas was working individually off to the side during the early portion open to the media. We’ll get their official injury designations later this afternoon.
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) October 30, 2020
There is optimism that the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year will be able to return next week against the Bucs, but it remains to be seen when the team will get back veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Marquez Callaway, who were both unavailable in week 8 vs the Bears.
Drew Brees might not have the arm strength he once had, but he’s still the GOAT in the 2-minute offense.
— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) November 1, 2020
Perhaps the greatest concern facing the Saints is the play this season of quarterback Drew Brees. The 41-year-old endured a relatively slow start, topping 300 passing yards just twice in seven outings.
Brees is also well off his typical torrid pace with just 13 TD passes. He has also connected on just 16 attempts for more than 20 yards, which puts him on pace for 32, far short of the 37 he threw in just 11 appearances last season.
Wait and See Best Approach for Sports Bettors
While Brees is likely to benefit enormously from a healthier receiving corps, the Saints remain a risky Super Bowl wager. With the Bucs lighting up opponents in their past two outings ahead of their Monday Night Football matchup in New York, the argument can be forcefully made that New Orleans is not the best team in the NFC South.
That is an argument that may be settled when the Saints and Bucs clash at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, there is little reason to jump on the Saints’ Super Bowl betting bandwagon.