TAMPA — Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, whose free-agent value may be complicated by the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sustained four months ago, says his preference is to remain in Tampa Bay.
“Yeah, I love Tampa, man. I love Tampa Bay," Alexander told 95.3 WDAE-FM Wednesday. “This is where they first brought me. I’ve just been balling. I just love everything about it."
The Bucs plan to talk to Alexander’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next week. Left tackle Donovan Smith, who will receive the franchise player tag if an extension can’t be reached, receiver Adam Humphries and Alexander are free agents the Bucs would like to retain.
Under new coach Bruce Arians, the Bucs will likely utilize the 3-4 scheme of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Alexander has been a middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme since coming to the Bucs as a fourth-round pick from LSU in 2015.
“Man, I’m a baller, period," Alexander said. “I’m going to get to the ball whatever scheme it is. If it’s 4-3, 3-4, I know how to make plays and that’s what I’m going to do if I’m in there."
Alexander said he has met Arians and would like to play for him.
“I mean, he’s a great coach," Alexander said of Arians. “You know, I’ve never played under him so I can’t really tell. But you know, he’s been winning some games, too, so I met him a couple times. So I’m just trying to see what’s going to happen in free agency and then we’ll see if I’m at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then I’m going to have a great relationship."
The timing of Alexander’s injury could not have been worse. Given his production as a four-year starter, he was likely looking at a contract of $10 million per yea. Rosenhaus has said he still expects Alexander to land a top-of-the-market deal.
While Alexander has been working hard to recover from the torn ACL, he could be another three or four months away from being cleared for football activities.
“Yeah, it’s very tough when you can’t go out there and make something happen," Alexander said. “But those guys, they played well. They just have to put everything together. We had coaching changes. So it was just a crazy year. But I trust in those guys. Those guys are going to do the job and get the job done."
Alexander has been called the “heart and soul" of the Bucs defense for his emotional and physical style of play, something he honed playing at LSU.
“I was just born with it. I was just born being a dog," Alexander said. “I just love football. I love to hit people. It just excites me. I just love the game, period. All the hard work you’ve got to put into it to be great, and everything it takes. It’s a rush. It’s a rush on my body.
“When you got to LSU, you’re whole mentality has got to change because the people around you, most of us are dogs and we’re going to be talking smack. We’re out there every day trying to get better. So it’s a culture thing. You can see when guys come out of LSU how they progress in the NFL. You can see that."
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The Bucs could have an interest in two other LSU players expected to go in the first round of the NFL draft his year — linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams.
“I done talked to both of them recently," Alexander said. “Especially D-White. I talked to D-White today. He’s going to be a great player; Greedy, too. I just can’t wait to see how they’re going to move around here."
When will Alexander be ready to play again?
“I’m just working one day at a time, really," he said. “Just trying to stay focused and keep pushing myself. Just trying to get back on track and I’ll see you back soon."