Buccaneers To Bring Back Lavonte David

Lavonte David intends to sign another Buccaneers contract. The 10-year Tampa Bay starter is coming back on a one-year deal, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (on Twitter).

This will be David’s fourth Bucs contract. He stayed with the team in 2021, as part of the defending champions’ historic talent-retention effort, and will join Jamel Dean and Anthony Nelson in returning to the squad for the 2023 season. Despite the Bucs coming into March nearly $60MM over the cap, they have done well to retain some core defenders. They have also agreed to bring in Baker Mayfield.

David wanted to stay with the Bucs and test the market; he has now accomplished both offseason goals.The 12th-year defender will be back for $7MM, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (on Twitter). The deal is guaranteed.

David joined Bobby Wagner as linebacker stalwarts going into age-33 seasons. While David’s All-Pro count does not approach Wagner’s historic number, he has been one of the greatest defenders in Bucs history. David’s 166 starts are top five in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famers Ronde Barber Brooks and Derrick Brooks and longtime left tackle Paul Gruber.

The void years included on David’s previous Bucs contract would have led to the team carrying nearly $7MM on its 2023 cap sheet even if he was on another team. Reaching this deal before the 2023 league year begins will help the Bucs, who will now have David on their cap sheet to play. Considering David’s production to this point, the Bucs will be counting on him to deliver another season for a team that still houses a number of starters from Super Bowl LV.

Tampa Bay received an 18-game season from David, who tallied 124 tackles — his most since 2015 — and three sacks. The former second-round pick has been one of this era’s best linebackers, despite lacking in Pro Bowl nods. The Pro Bowl formula has worked against David for much of his career, with 4-3 outside linebackers — David’s official position until the Bucs switched to a 3-4 look under Todd Bowles in 2019 — grouped together with 3-4 pass rushers. Pro Football Focus has rated David as a top-five off-ball ‘backer in three of the past four seasons, slotting him third overall in 2022.

While Tom Brady‘s retirement figures to lower the Bucs’ profile in 2023, they are still bringing back six starters from Super Bowl LV on defense. Their offense still carries four first-stringers from that game, with Mayfield potentially stepping into Brady’s role in piloting it. That will do the most in defining how the Bucs respond after a 2022 letdown, but David continuing his partnership with Devin White — who is likely on the verge of a top-market extension — will go a long way toward giving the Bucs’ offense a sturdy safety net.

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