Kwon Alexander

49ers To Sign LB Kwon Alexander

Kwon Alexander is spoken for. On Monday, the 49ers signed the former Buccaneers linebacker to a four-year, $54MM deal (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). The pact includes $27MM guaranteed, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter) adds. 

John Lynch, who knows a thing or two about the Buccaneers’ organization, is investing big in the linebacker position. Alexander was expected to cash in this offseason, but few could have foreseen this type of deal for a player coming off of a torn ACL.

The Bucs discussed an extension with Alexander last year before his ACL tear in October, but they were unwilling to break the $10MM/year mark for him. Months later, the 49ers have shelled out $13.5MM per season for the soon-to-be 25-year-old.

A fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Alexander started 46 games over three-plus years with the Buccaneers. Last season, he posted 38 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one sack while grading as the No. 53 linebacker at the time of his injury, per Pro Football Focus. In 2017, Alexander earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and graded out as PFF’s No. 37 off-ball ‘backer. In 2016, he registered an eye-popping 145 stops.

Previously, the 49ers were looking into inside linebackers such as C.J. Mosley and Anthony Barr. In all likelihood, the Alexander signing will take them out of the mix for both players.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, 49ers Interested In Kwon Alexander

The Jets and 49ers are interested in Buccaneers free agent linebacker Kwon Alexander, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter) hears. Stroud also hears that Alexander is seeking a deal that would pay him between $10-$12MM. 

Alexander’s 2018 season ended in October after he suffered a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, the linebacker was discussing an extension with the Bucs, though they were unwilling to break the $10MM/year mark for him.

A fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Alexander has started 46 games over three-plus years with the Buccaneers. Last season, he posted 38 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one sack while grading as the No. 53 linebacker at the time of his injury, per Pro Football Focus. In 2017, Alexander earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and graded out as PFF’s No. 37 off-ball ‘backer. In 2016, he registered an eye-popping 145 stops.

The Niners are also expected to pursue C.J. Mosley (Ravens) and Anthony Barr (Vikings), according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports, so the linebacker position is high on their agenda.

Given the interest in Alexander, the Bucs are bracing to lose him, Stroud hears. And, on Monday morning, Alexander texted a group of his teammates telling them he’s going to miss them, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Buccaneers are in a similar boat with wide receiver Adam Humphries, says Stroud, since Humphries is expected to garner offers of $9MM-$10MM on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Panthers, Bucs, Kwon, Dolphins

The Panthers have hired former Alabama assistant Jake Peetz as their new running backs coach, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Carolina announced that Peetz’s predecessor, Jim Skipper, will retire after spending six seasons with the club. Peetz, 35, worked for the Raiders from 2015-17, serving as quarterbacks coach during his final campaign in Oakland. He was briefly rumored to be an offensive coordinator candidate in Indianapolis under presumptive head coach Josh McDaniels in 2018, but that never occurred after McDaniels spurned the Colts. Peetz will lead a Panthers backfield that was dominated by Christian McCaffrey — who played 91% of the team’s offensive snaps — last year.

Let’s take a look at a few more coaching notes from around the NFL:

  • Impending free agent linebacker Kwon Alexander has already met new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and wants to re-sign with Tampa Bay, as he told WDAE-FM (link via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times). Alexander doesn’t think the Bucs’ likely shift to a 3-4 front under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be a hindrance to his play. “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.” From a contractual standpoint, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com recently reported that Tampa Bay had no intention of paying Alexander $10MM per year even before he tore his ACL last October.
  • Panthers free agent linebacker David Mayo recently underwent sports hernia surgery, but is expected to make a full recovery, reports Joe Person of The Athletic (Twitter link). As of yet, there’s been no timeline reported for Mayo’s return to full health. A fifth-round pick in 2015, Mayo hasn’t been much of a factor on Carolina’s impressive linebacker unit, playing only 307 defensive snaps over four years. But he’s been extremely reliable on special teams. Mayo has played on at least 60% of the Panthers’ ST snaps in all of his NFL seasons, and has ranked either first or second in Panthers’ special teams snaps in each of the past three years.
  • Alabama special teams/offense analyst Brendan Farrell will join the Dolphins as an assistant special teams coach, per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. Miami is attempting to rebuild its special teams staff after losing longtime coordinator/associate head coach Darren Rizzi to the Saints earlier this year. Farrell will work under Danny Crossman, the former Bills’ ST coach who joined the Dolphins earlier this month. Farrell previously served as the special teams coordinator at Northwestern State.

NFC Notes: Clark, Tate, Rosen, Alexander

The Seahawks started talking contract with star defensive end and free agent-to-be Frank Clark last month, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks will not let Clark get away. If the two sides cannot work out a long-term deal in the next couple of weeks, Seattle will put the franchise tag — valued at roughly $18MM for defensive ends — on the 25-year-old. That will at least buy them until July to come to terms on a multiyear pact, which could have a total value of up to $90MM. Clark, though, appears perfectly willing to play out the 2019 campaign on the one-year franchise tender, which would make him eligible for free agency again next year.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • It does not appear that the Eagles will re-sign Golden Tate before free agency opens next month, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk opines. Alper does not cite a source, but a recent tweet from Tate himself and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman‘s silence on the matter suggest that Tate will be looking for a new home soon. Tate has indicated he would like to be back in Philly, but given the Eagles’ tight salary cap situation, that could be a tall order, especially if Tate is still seekingJarvis Landry-type deal.
  • Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to dismiss the speculation connecting Kyler Murray to Arizona. Many pundits believe Murray would thrive in Kingsbury’s offense, but Kingsbury insists that the team is committed to last year’s first-round pick, Josh Rosen (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweets that team president Michael Bidwill is also adamant that his club will not pursue Murray (at least not with the No. 1 overall pick).
  • Budda Baker has functioned as the Cardinals‘ slot corner, but new DC Vance Joseph said that Baker will be moved back to his natural safety position in 2019 (Twitter link via Mike Jurecki of AZCardinals.com).
  • Despite the torn ACL that ended Kwon Alexander‘s season in October, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com believes Alexander will cash in, though it may not be with the Buccaneers. Laine says that Tampa Bay was not willing to pay $10MM per year for Alexander even before the ACL tear, though she believes that other teams will be happy to hit that figure. Given that Alexander appears to be progressing well in his recovery, Laine thinks his market will be robust (Twitter links).

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/18

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander Has Torn ACL

Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a torn ACL against the Browns on Sunday, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) first indicated Sunday that Tampa Bay feared Alexander had torn his ACL.

A season-ending injury will not only put an end to Alexander’s 2018 contributions, but signify a devastating development for Alexander’s free agency hopes next spring. Alexander is scheduled to become a free agent in March, and had been engaged in extension negotiations with Tampa Bay. He’ll now be facing a lengthy recovery period, which could put a cap on his next contract.

A fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Alexander has started 46 games over three-plus years with the Buccaneers. This season, he’d posted 38 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one sack while grading as the No. 53 linebacker among 79 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. With Alexander sidelined, the Buccaneers moved strong-side linebacker Adarius Taylor to the middle and inserted Jack Cichy into the game, but Cichy later left with a knee injury of his own.

If Tampa Bay is forced to look outside its organization for reinforcements, free agent linebackers such as Brian Cushing, Jonathan Freeny, Derrick Johnson, Kevin Minter, and Lawrence Timmons could conceivably be on the club’s radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Falcons, Buccaneers, Morgan

The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions, continuing on the Atlanta injury front:

  • Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
  • Ali Marpet became the latest Buccaneers starter to sign a lucrative extension, joining Mike Evans and Cameron Brate in doing so this year. More re-ups could be on track. Kwon Alexander and the Bucs are still talking an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While Stroud writes it’s uncertain if the Bucs want to pay Alexander like a top-tier linebacker — they have Lavonte David on the books at $10MM per year — he’s on the radar. As is fourth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, who’s in a contract year. Despite rarely being viewed as a productive player by Pro Football Focus, Smith is well thought of among Bucs brass, per Stroud. Adam Humphries is another player the Bucs would like to retain, though they have a crowded receiver room. Chris Godwin‘s emerged as Tampa Bay’s No. 3 man and may be Evans’ top complement if DeSean Jackson ($10MM non-guaranteed salary in 2019) isn’t back next year. Humphries’ contract expires after this season.
  • Derrick Morgan will miss a few weeks because of a shoulder injury, Mike Vrabel said. A ninth-year player who dealt with a knee injury during the preseason, Morgan has played in all six Titans games this year and has only missed more than two games in a season once in the past eight years. Harold Landry will likely start opposite Brian Orakpo in the meantime.
  • Stationed on the Texans‘ PUP list, D’Onta Foreman can return to practice this week but probably won’t, per Bill O’Brien (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Foreman’s been out since late last season because of an Achilles’ tendon tear.
  • Braden Smith appears to have solidified himself as the Colts‘ right tackle. Indianapolis went through several players in hopes of identifying a candidate, but Frank Reich said Monday (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) this job will be Smith’s to lose. Smith’s started three games for the Colts this season.
  • Former Lions, Patriots and Bengals linebacker Marquis Flowers worked out for the Texans on Monday, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com tweets. The Lions cut Flowers last week. He played in 16 games for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16 and suited up for all 19 of the Patriots’ games last year.

Bucs, Kwon Alexander Working On Extension

The Buccaneers are eyeing a long-term linebacker setup that includes both Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. They are discussing an extension with Alexander’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

No deal is imminent, per Rapoport, but the Bucs are working toward a re-up for their three-down linebacker. Alexander is entering a contract year.

A first-time Pro Bowler in 2017, Alexander has been a prodigious tackler for the Bucs for the past two seasons. After registering 145 in 2016, he made 97 stops in 12 games last season. David’s sidekick rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 37 off-ball ‘backer last year.

The Bucs made Alexander a fourth-round pick in 2015, and he resides as one of their highest-profile contract-year players. Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith are in this queue as well. Tampa Bay holds more than $8MM in current cap space, and early projections have the team set to possess more than $21MM come 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

South Notes: Bucs, Aguayo, Winston, Jaguars

Draft evaluations are subjective and tend to vary greatly from team to team. This week, Buccaneers GM Jason Licht reminded us of that fact when he explained that he had first-round grades on three of his rookies this year, including kicker Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs thought enough of the FSU product to trade into the second round for him and apparently it’s a move that the Bucs made with confidence. Along with Aguayo, the GM feels that he snared first-round talents in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence. In 2015, Licht says he also hit it big.

We think we got four last year,” Licht told Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report, referring to quarterback Jameis Winston, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, and linebacker Kwon Alexander . “That’s the goal – to get multiple first-round draft picks each year. When it’s all said done, to look back and say, ‘We got multiple first-round picks in this draft’ – that was the goal.”

While you ponder Licht’s assessment of his last two drafts (and his evaluation of Aguayo), here’s more out of the South divisions:

  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken admits that he wasn’t a big fan of Winston prior to the 2015 draft. Today, the former Southern Miss head coach isn’t afraid to admit that he has had a change of heart. “It’s who he is, how he’s wired,” Monken said, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think that’s one thing that’s a misnomer. I think from the outside you would’ve looked at it with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is. I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He’s a competitive joker, man, he’s smart, he’s intelligent…you can win a lot of games with guys like that.”
  • Jeff Linkenbach‘s contract with the Jaguars is for one season and will pay $810K, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. The guard/tackle has 86 appearances and 36 starts on his NFL resume.
  • The Jaguars got some bad news on Thursday when they learned that first-round pick Jalen Ramsey will have to undergo surgery to fix a knee injury. Depending on the second opinion and the treatment option he goes with, Ramsey could reportedly miss 4-6 weeks or 4-6 months. If all goes well, however, he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.