2016 Position Review: Linebackers

Posted Feb 14, 2017 provides a breakdown of each position following the 2016 season. This edition looks back at the linebackers.

The story of the 2016 season when it comes to the Dolphins linebackers unquestionably was the performance of Kiko Alonso in his first year in Miami after he came over from the Philadelphia Eagles in the trade that also brought cornerback Byron Maxwell. Alonso proved a big-time playmaker for the Dolphins as he finished tied for first in the NFL with four fumble recoveries and produced one of the biggest plays of the season with his game-winning pick-six in the victory against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in November. Unfortunately, the other big story at linebacker in 2016 was injuries. Opening-day starters Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi combined for only nine starts, and Misi landed on injured reserve in October. Jenkins battled various injuries throughout the season and started seven games. Veteran Donald Butler played a key role after being signed two days after the season opener, as he played in 14 games with five starts. The Dolphins also got valuable contributions from second-year players Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull, as well as veteran Spencer Paysinger.

Season-ending starters: Kiko Alonso, Donald Butler, Jelani Jenkins

Season-ending backups:  Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull, Spencer Paysinger, Trevor Reilly

Ended season on injured reserve: Koa Misi

2016 transactions (after final roster cuts):  Signed James Burgess to the practice squad (Sept. 4) … Signed Brandon Watts to the practice squad (Sept. 4) … Signed Donald Butler as a free agent (Sept. 13) … Released James Burgess from the practice squad (Sept. 13) … Placed Koa Misi on injured reserve (Oct. 10) … Activated Zach Vigil from the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list (Nov. 5) … Signed Trevor Reilly as a free agent (Dec. 19) … Waived Zach Vigil (Dec. 19) … Signed Lamin Barrow to the practice squad (Dec. 28) 

2017 free agents:  Alonso (RFA), Paysinger (UFA), Butler (UFA), Jenkins (UFA) 

Stat that stands out: Alonso was one of three players around the NFL — along with Zach Orr of the Baltimore Ravens and Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers — to finish the 2016 season with at least 100 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

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