Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lavonte David was recently named to the NFL All-Decade Team. The soon to be 30 year old will suit up for his 121st start for the Buccaneers Sunday against the Falcons. After Sunday’s game David will be heading into the offseason with one year remaining on his contract.
The Table Is Set For Licht
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has a full plate when the Buccaneers head into this offseason. Major decisions will have to be made by Licht. Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh and of course Jameis Winston’s contracts are all up. Licht does have an ample amount of cap space to work with, but re-signing all of those players listed will eat up that abundance of cap room quickly.
The Buccaneers have had few bright spots on their defense over the last decade, David is arguably THEE only consistent defender during that time. When GM Jason Licht was hired he made it a priority to lock-up David, which he did with a five-year, $50.5 million dollar contract. That contract expires after the 2020 season. To fully understand what David has meant to this defense you need to look no further than the reports that the team is putting a priority on extending David’s contract. Yes, with all the other players who’s contracts are up, David is still considered a priority.
David Wants To Stay
Having a player of David’s ability playing on a team that has struggled the entire time he’s been here is something nobody wishes for. Having that same player wanting to stay here is something everybody wishes for. David had this to say about a possible contract extension.
“It would mean a lot because growing up I never imagined myself in this position, getting drafted here and knowing that hardly nobody stays with a team for a long time, it’s rare that it happens. It would be a blessing – an absolute blessing. To have that Tampa Bay logo on my helmet and going balls to the wall for the Tampa Bay organization, it would be a blessing. I can’t take this situation for granted. Every day I take it one day at a time and do my best to represent the Bucs the best that I can.”
More Work To Be Done
David will most likely reach the 1,000 career tackles Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Something only three other Buccaneers have accomplished. Derrick Brooks leads the way with 2,198, followed by Ronde Barber with 1,428 and Hardy Nickerson with 1,028. That my friends is elite company to be in.
Todd Bowles Is Sold
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles knows a thing or two about linebackers. He had this to say about David.
“He’s one of my favorite players, I think he’s a complete football player. He plays the run very well. He plays the pass very well. He can blitz. He can play zone. He can play man. He’s very intelligent – he has a lot of football savvy and he understands the game, and that’s priceless. I think Devin has learned a lot from him in that aspect of the game and the team in general on defense he’s one of the leaders over there and I can’t say enough about him.”
That’s a glowing review by arguably one of the great defensive minds in the league. Bowles went on to talk about David’s leadership.
“He is our vocal leader, he is one of them – he speaks up all the time. It’s not just when things aren’t going right. He speaks up when they’re going right. He comes to play every time, he holds everyone accountable and like I said, he is one of our leaders.”
Brooks, Alstott, Barber… David
It isn’t very often that players can claim playing for one team their entire career. David not only wants to spend his entire career as a Buccaneer, but understands by doing so he would be right there next to some Buccaneers greats. Being mentioned in the same breathe as Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber is on of itself an accomplishment. Understanding what that really means is part of what makes David the player he is.
“Those are guys that I know and guys that I look up to, guys that meant a lot to this organization not only as football players, but as men. The main thing is winning and I have to get to that level and win. Unfortunately we didn’t win enough this year, but our goal next year is to come back and win every game that we play. I would die to make the playoffs. I want to make it so bad. I know we can do it with a better start, but it really all starts on Day 1 of OTAs – our voluntary on-field activities next year.”
David understands that this Buccaneers defense is becoming a force in the league.
“This is definitely the best front seven I’ve played with since I’ve been here, we have some veteran guys that understand the scheme and understand what Coach Bowles is trying to do and then going out and executing it. We definitely take pride in it. I hope we can keep it all together for next year because we can do great things. You’re seeing it now.”
And while David is turning 30 years old in January, he has no plans of slowing diwn.
“What keeps me young is my love for the game to be honest with you – my love for the game and getting the opportunity to continue to play the game that I love. It’s all for the guys in the locker room and the name on my jersey, this organization and this city. That’s what I give week in and week out.”
Do The Right Thing
The Buccaneers and Jason Licht have alot of decisions to make this offseason, kicking up David so he finishes his career as a Buc SHOULD be one of the top priorities. It’s really a no-brainer.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com