TAMPA – Beau Allen had not met a single teammate when he walked into One Buc Place to survey his new surroundings Thursday and hold an introductory news conference. But it was immediately clear, unlike recent free agents, the Eagles defensive tackle won't have trouble blending into a new locker room.
Beau knows defense.
Allen, 26, was a big part of the Super Bowl champion Eagles' top-ranked run defense that allowed only 79.2 rushing yards per game, which is why the Bucs signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract Thursday.
"I pride myself on playing a specific brand of football that did well for me in Philadelphia and I consider myself a tough, dependable, consistent guy and I think that's one thing that attracted me to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,"Allen said.
Beau knows hard work.
A year ago, the Bucs signed Redskins free agent Chris Baker. But he was released after only one season, in part, because of his lack of effort and accountability, like jumping off-sides on fourth down in a loss at Carolina on Christmas Eve.
The Bucs shouldn't have that issue with Allen, whose journey as a seventh-round pick from Wisconsin to the first player in the Bucs' 2018 free agent class has not been an easy one.
"I've been through a lot," Allen said. "There's a lot of stories of a lot of guys in the NFL that have overcome different things and I think that's one of the things that makes the NFL so intriguing and gets everyone tuned in. Yeah, I was drafted in the seventh round in Philadelphia and through a lot of hard work, carved myself out a role there and was ready to take on a bigger starting role before the season last year and ended up tearing my (pectoral muscle), which was unfortunate, but that's how it goes. Rehab and came back real quick from that and played and had a great year and ended up winning a Super Bowl and here I am in Tampa Bay. It's been a long journey but I wouldn't trade it for the world.''
Beau knows the value of a close-knit team.
The Eagles credited their ability to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII with the camaraderie and bond among teammates and coaches.
"I think for me, football is really about relationships,'' Allen said. "The relationships between players and players, players and coaches, players and the front office. Players and the media — everybody really. And I think that's one thing we did well in Philadelphia is having players who care about each other and play for each other."
Allen shared some of those personal stories Friday, from his charitable work in breast cancer awareness to meeting his girlfriend after posing in an elephant costume on a dating app less than a year ago.
Allen was only 12 when he learned his mother had breast cancer. (She is cancer free today): "It was a tough time for me and my family just to watch her battle that, battle going through chemotherapy and that kind of thing. It's a tough situation, so I try to get out there and meet families that are going through similar situations and help out any way I can.
"I grew my hair out long just to kind of remind me of my mom and what she's been through and how the game of football is tough sometimes but not nearly as tough as some of the everyday struggles that people are going through that you never really hear about. So I always braid it with a pink bow in during breast cancer awareness month and I'm going to continue doing that and I'm looking forward to getting involved in the community here in Tampa."
But Allen knows how to have fun, too. Last year, he posed on Bumble, the dating app, wearing only an elephant suit he had from his days at the University of Wisconsin with this quote: "I'm Ele-phan-tastic." It's how he met his girlfriend.
"That's a funny story. I was in Madison where I went to college and I was messing around wearing an elephant costume at Halloween,'' Allen said. "I put up a Bumble profile of just me in the elephant costume. It was a good time. That was a fun situation. It ended up working, yeah, because I met my girlfriend on Bumble. I'm glad we're getting all the really important questions out of the way."
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FREE AGENT UPDATE: Ravens C Ryan Jensen concluded his visit with the Bucs Thursday and took his planned trip to Indianapolis to meet with the Colts…Free agent DE Alex Okafor visited the Bucs Thursday but left without immediately signing. There's mutual interest. Okafor played for current Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner in Arizona, getting eight sacks in 2014. He had 4.5 sacks in 10 games with the Saints last year before tearing his Achilles. He is expected to fully recover by training camp.