In 2014, Maxwell was a 26-year-old starting cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. He held his own in a star-studded secondary alongside Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. The foursome helped lead Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and one championship before Maxwell bolted for free agency.
In 2013, Alonso had 159 tackles and four interceptions for the Buffalo Bills. He was voted Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America and also finished second in The Associated Press' version of the award. He appeared on the fast track until an offseason ACL tear derailed his second season.
Last year, things went south for Maxwell and Alonso when they were acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Maxwell, who signed a $63 million contract, struggled in his role as the team's No. 1 corner, and Alonso battled through injuries and inconsistency. That led to a reported trade that will send both defensive players to Miami in exchange for draft picks.
The Miami Dolphins are banking on Maxwell and Alonso returning to their old form. It is a calculated risk, but one that Miami feels is worth taking to help turn around a struggling defense that ranked 25th in the NFL last season.
Alonso is the better fit of the two players. The Dolphins desperately need a makeover at linebacker -- they were 28th against the run -- and Alonso is an immediate upgrade. When healthy, he is an athletic playmaker who will replace pending free agent Kelvin Sheppard at middle linebacker. Alonso also will be motivated. He is playing on the final year of his rookie contract and will make just $991,948, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System.
Maxwell comes with bigger risks. He has five years and about $43.5 million left on his contract, although it's possible that number can be restructured by the Dolphins in the near future. But on the field, Maxwell struggled in Philadelphia. It was his first year not playing in Seattle's loaded secondary, which might be an indication he was a product of the Seahawks' system.
Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel reports the Dolphins plan to cut Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes later this week, which means Maxwell will be in the role as the team’s shutdown corner. The Dolphins could be setting themselves up for a poor return on investment unless Maxwell's play significantly improves.
It's tough to fully gauge which team got the best value until we know the exact compensation of the draft picks. But upon early examination, there is some good -- and potentially some bad -- that comes with this trade for Miami.