Of the many decisions that the Bucs have to make coming up with free agency, one of the more important ones is: what to do with their starting middle linebacker who’s deal is up? Kwon Alexander is the starter of the last four seasons in the middle of Tampa Bay’s defense, but he ended last year on injured reserve due to a torn ACL.
Also, Alexander’s injury, despite making the Pro Bowl in 2017, came at the worst possible time for any leverage for his possible new contract with the Bucs.
Alexander appeared on Tampa Bay Sports radio station, 95.3 WDAE, with hosts Ron Diaz and Ian Beckles on Wednesday afternoon to talk about several subjects, most importantly his future with the only team he’s ever played for:
— 95.3 WDAE (@953WDAE) February 21, 2019
When Alexander was asked about wanting to remain in Tampa Bay, he said: “Yeah, I love Tampa, man. I love Tampa Bay. This is where they first brought me. I’ve just been balling. I just love everything about it.”
However, he also realizes that at this point, there’s the business part of football. Alexander told the hosts that he’s only focused on getting back fully healthy, “I’m just working one day at a time, really. Just trying to stay focused and keep pushing myself. Just trying to get back on track and I’ll see you back soon.”
Alexander, who was injured in the first half of the October win with the Browns while attempting to make a tackle, told the station that he’s still about four months from being fully recovered.
As you are likely aware, the Buccaneers have another new coaching staff, as Bruce Arians has come in and has brought his former Cardinals defensive coordinator and Jets head coach Todd Bowles with him. Tampa Bay will likely switch to a mostly 3-4 defense, which could affect their plans with Alexander and other personnel.
The Bucs currently have limited options at linebacker on their roster. They obviously have outstanding former Pro Bowler, Lavonte David, who can play in the middle, but in the past they preferred to play him on the weak side of defenses. And, Tampa Bay is also hoping for linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who did not play all of last season, to be back healthy for 2019.
Beckwith suffered a broken ankle in an car accident last April and was unable to return and play in 2018. If he can come back, it gives the Bucs another option to play in the middle, should they want to move on from Alexander. That’s because in Beckwith’s rookie year 2017, he replaced Alexander in the early part of the season, who was out with a hamstring injury.
Alexander is represented by prominent South Florida agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but not even Rosenhaus’ antics and publicity-seeking can help the fact that his client finished 2018 injured at the worst possible time with free agency looming. This is especially, if Alexander hopes to get a $10 million or more average per year deal from the Buccaneers or someone else.
It is also possible that the Bucs could place a “Transitional Tag” on Alexander, which would require another team to give them compensation and also give Tampa Bay the chance to match the offer when free agency begins.
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