Kwon Alexander is by all accounts an electric player in the locker room and in the huddle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His exciting style of play and passion for the game and his teammates is evident. After an injury ended his season in 2018, Alexander and the Buccaneers find themselves heading towards free agency without a contract for the young inside linebacker. Many fans feel Kwon needs to be brought back with no questions asked as a young top end linebacker. But is he? Is it truly a necessity to bring back the 24 year old? Let’s take a step back and think aloud on this subject.
Why Tampa Bay needs to bring back Kwon Alexander.
Alexander is the emotional leader on defense. His level of energy shows out on the field and the intensity he plays with makes him who he is as a football player. With a new defensive style being brought to Tampa by Todd Bowles, there’s reason to believe the scheme would better fit Kwon, who showed out when given the opportunity rush the passer. On 32 pass rush attempts, Kwon pressured the quarterback on nearly 19% of his pass rush attempts. Kwon returning to play inside alongside Lavonte David and the two being utilized better and more diversely in a Bowles scheme is something many Buccaneer fans are drooling over. After all, Kwon’s infectious demeanor is what fans love. Fans love the guys with all the energy, fans love the great life stories and fans love good people which Kwon Alexander is all of those things and more. For all the reasons as to why Kwon is needed for this defensive make-over, what are some of the reasons he isn’t?
Why Tampa Bay may be just fine without Kwon Alexander.
In a scheme that sure sounds like it’ll be 3-4 heavy with two inside linebackers, where would this leave Kendell Beckwith? Beckwith played very well in Kwon’s initial absence back in 2017. Beckwith is also under contract for 2019 and 2020 at a very low cap hit under $1 million each season. The linebackers will be responsible for a lot of the run lanes while the big men up front eat space and that means one on one tackles. Kwon Alexander has struggled with tackling efficiency and has tallied up 78 missed tackles over his career including 20+ in each of his first three seasons (2018 cut short due to injury). Beckwith on the other hand missed 8 tackles in 2017 with more snaps taken than Kwon, while Alexander finished the season with 21 misses.
The biggest factor in this entire off-season scenario surrounding Kwon Alexander will be compensation. Alexander has missed parts of each of the last two seasons due to injuries and his availability due to health is a concern in the long run. If the Buccaneers were to franchise Kwon, the hit a year ago was $14.961 million. That’s a hefty amount to pay a linebacker that has been sketchy as a tackler and up and down in coverage over his career. The contract details that Kwon Alexander and his team are looking for may very well be the ultimate deciding factor to whether or not he remains in Tampa.
The final verdict.
Kwon is not a necessity in a Todd Bowles defense. He just isn’t. At the same time, it will be a shame to not have back the infectious attitude that he brings to this team. The smile, the charisma, the speed and the youth that comes with Kwon is something this defense would miss. The Buccaneers have a tough decision to make with Alexander in the near future. With Donovan Smith almost assuredly coming back, the money is getting tighter. Let’s see if there’s some loose change for a fan favorite.