As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into the offseason we will be going over each potential free agent the team needs to make a decision on. Do the Pewter Pirates “Re-Sign or Let Walk” will be a series of articles analyzing who we think will/should stay and who will be let go to test the free agent market. Up first, linebacker Lavonte David.
There are few players around the league who stick with a team for 12 years. Far fewer who continue to play at a very high level for that duration. Luckily, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been blessed with such a player. Lavonte David! Entering the 2024 season David will be a free agent if he doesn’t retire. It would be difficult to imagine him playing in another uniform and highly doubt he will. So here’s to hope that he returns instead of hanging them up.
When you think about the models of Buccaneer consistency a few names come to mind. Mike Evans for one with his 1,000 plus receiving yards each year, Ronde Barber, and Derrick Brooks with their consistent impact. When we mention those Buccaneer greats another name comes up just as much. Lavonte David.
So it’s no surprise that David finished the 2023 season with 134 combined tackles (his 5th best total) with 86 solo tackles (his 4th best total). He has continued to show signs of not slowing down. Adding to those totals he racked up a forced fumble, 4.5 sacks (his 3rd best total), 17 tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits. Needless to say he’s had an unprecedented impact on this team each and every year. So one must ask when will father time catch up to him?
Very much similar to the previous off season the assumption is the same as last year. In fact David himself spoke to the importance of retiring a Buccaneer and not playing with anyone else when he spoke with WDAE, reported by Pewter Report.
“I’d love to retire as a Buccaneer. Getting to play in the same building my whole career like guys like Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, that’d be amazing.”
So the game plan moving forward from the front office is rinse and repeat. This time though may be a little trickier. As we prep for the offseason more signs point to Devin White jumping ship and playing elsewhere. K.J. Britt has shown he may be able to step in at White’s place for a full season but one has to remember that this year was in many ways an anomaly for Britt. Hopefully his performance will continue moving forward.
Also add in the question mark at quarterback, Mike Evans and others. This team could really look different.
So what does this have to do with Lavonte David?
Simply put, it shapes how he sees the future of this defense, his role in it, and how much longer does he want to be a part of it. If David looses confidence in this team’s ability to win he may retire. Or, maybe Jason Licht can convince him that he’s needed to mold the future Buccaneers.
Again it’s rinse and repeat for Jason Licht and the front office. A one year $4.5 million dollar contract like last season with the Buccaneers sounds fitting. Adding in some incentives may also make David forget about retirement for one more year. From there they’ll work out something similar as last season with some void years and dead money if necessary.
Don’t worry we won’t be seeing David in another jersey. He can’t see himself doing it so neither should you. It’s a question of how much more he wants to put his body through? How much he wants to get to being a family man? I still saw the fire in him all season. With each tackle and run stuffing stop I saw a player that’s not ready to hang it up yet. If I’m the general manager I dangle a little more than I did last season in front of him. I can’t afford to lose him and White. There simply is not enough draft capital or cap space to find another top tier player like David.