The Chiefs traded inside linebacker D.J. Alexander to the Seattle Seahawks for inside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, the team announced Friday.
Pierre-Louis, 25, was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2014. The 6-foot, 230-pound Pierre-Louis did most of his work on special teams last season, logging 227 special-teams snaps in 13 games. He finished the season with 12 tackles and also logged 71 defensive snaps.
Physically, he fits the bill for what the Chiefs have traditionally liked in an inside linebacker. He ran a blistering 4.51 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Combine and was among the top overall testers at his position — a continuation of former general manager John Dorsey’s philosophy — and could have some upside on the defensive side of the ball.
In his NFL Draft profile that year, analyst Nolan Nawrocki described Pierre-Louis as a run-and-hit linebacker who had the traits to be used on special teams and develop as a nickel linebacker.
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Playing time on the defensive side of the ball has been difficult for Pierre-Louis to come by, however, as the Seahawks often use only two true linebackers on the field at any one time and already have a pair of terrific starters, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, holding down the fort.
“When he’s had the opportunity to play, he’s done well,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Pierre-Louis, who was expected to arrive in Kansas City on Friday night and take his physical. “They’ve got a strong linebacker corps there and so I think this gives us some depth ... he liked him coming out (of the draft) and I look forward to (seeing) him.”
Pierre-Louis could find an easier path to playing time in Kansas City. Both of the projected starters in the Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme, Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga, are coming off season-ending injuries, though Justin March-Lillard and Ramik Wilson each emerged as solid options last season. Terrance Smith, an undrafted rookie a year ago who earned the other starting job down the stretch, also returns, while fifth-round rookie Ukeme Eligwe also will be battling for playing time.
It’s possible he’ll have an easier path toward defensive playing time than Alexander, a fifth-round pick in 2015 who has developed into one of the league’s best special teamers, would have.
“We like him as a linebacker,” Reid said of Pierre-Louis. “If he can help us on special teams, that’s okay too. But we want to keep building the depth at that position and competition.”
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Alexander made the Pro Bowl as an alternate for his efforts on special teams in January, after a season in which he recorded 16 tackles and a forced fumble and logged 357 special-teams snap. However, he also made a start at inside linebacker following Johnson’s season-ending injury in December, and while he recorded four tackles in 19-17 loss to Tennessee, he ceded the starting job the next week to Smith and never got the gig back. Alexander finished the season with 48 defensive snaps.
“I wish D.J. the best — he was a good football player for us,” Reid said. “It gives him an opportunity up there.”
Alexander does have two years remaining on his rookie deal, however, while Pierre-Louis only has one. He is slated to be a free agent after the 2017 season.