Armando Salguero

Reason the Miami Dolphins need to speak with Kiko Alonso ASAP

Kiko Alonso, here tackling Seattle Seahawks Christian Michael, started 15 regular-season games and in the playoffs at middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.
Kiko Alonso, here tackling Seattle Seahawks Christian Michael, started 15 regular-season games and in the playoffs at middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Kiko Alonso has never played consecutive seasons in the same defense during his four-year NFL career.

That’s why sources say he is so excited about the prospect of playing for the Miami Dolphins in 2017 — because he’s expecting new defensive coordinator Matt Burke’s defense to be practically the same as departed coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense was last season.

And in that defense, Alonso led the team with 115 tackles and four fumble recoveries and also had a forced fumble, four passes defensed, two interceptions and six quarterback hits.

So the idea of going back to that system with the benefit of a year’s worth of experience has Alonso eagerly awaiting the start of the offseason workout program and, eventually, training camp.

But there is a caveat.

Alonso is excited about going back to the same defensive system and the same position.

Middle linebacker.

A source close to Alonso tells The Miami Herald (me) that Alonso doesn’t want to move from the middle linebacker spot in 2017. He enjoys playing middle linebacker the most and believes that’s his spot, the source said. Alonso, by the way, has on separate occasions also told me he prefers to play middle linebacker but would consider doing whatever was best for the team.

So voicing a desire to not move is new. And it runs counter to the idea the Dolphins would this offseason consider moving Alonso outside where he was productive in Buffalo as a rookie — the decision depending on whom the Dolphins add to the linebacker corps in free agency or the draft.

It’s unclear if the Dolphins have been told Alonso doesn’t want to move, but it’s obvious they need to find out pretty quickly because unrestricted free agency begins next week (March 9) and the draft will follow afterward.

So it would be good for the Dolphins if they come to an understanding that their search for a linebacker had better focus on an outside linebacker rather than either an outside or middle linebacker — whichever of the two best suits their cap or draft board or whatever other manner they come up with to add players to the linebacker room.

The idea of moving Alonso is not a new one. I reported in January the team debated moving Alonso to the weak-side linebacker spot during the season when the linebacker corps was beset by multiple injuries and playing Mike Hull in the middle and Alonso at the weak side seemed a plausible solution.

Ultimately, the Dolphins decided against that option so as to not mess with Alonso’s head. But sources told The Herald (me) the topic would be revisited this offseason as part of an overall strategy to upgrade the linebacker corps.

Except none of that took Alonso’s opinion into account.

And now we understand his opinion is that he wants to remain at middle linebacker.

So here’s the issue:

When the Dolphins find out — and they will find out because communication between players and coaches, and between agents and the front office is pretty good under this administration so far — will they respect their player’s wishes? Or will the Dolphins go forward with doing whatever they need to do to sort out the linebacker room and worry about Alonso’s feelings and opinion later?

It will also be interesting to see how adamant Alonso will be about staying at middle linebacker. And how strongly he balks at moving to weak-side linebacker if that is what the team wants.

I know this: The Dolphins have a lot of work to do around their linebacker corps this offseason.

But if they want to keep Kiko Alonso happy, that work better be to upgrade the weak-side and strong-side linebacker positions and not mess with the middle linebacker.

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