Lavonte David

Buccaneers, Lavonte David Agree To Deal

Shortly after using their franchise tag on Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers are moving forward with the rest of their free agents-to-be. They agreed to terms with Lavonte David on an extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

David agreed to stay in Tampa on a two-year deal worth $25MM, Rapoport notes. The nine-year veteran linebacker would have been a coveted free agent, despite going into his age-31 season, but he will stay with the team he helped lead to a Super Bowl title. The Bucs are including $20MM in David guarantees, Rapoport tweets.

Bucs GM Jason Licht confirmed recently the team was interested in retaining David, but the reigning champions have a host of high-end free agents to re-sign. Prior to this David deal coming to pass, the Bucs were $4MM-plus over the projected $180MM cap floor. However, the official cap figure has not come in yet. The Bucs are still going to need to do some work in order to have room to sign the bulk of its free agent glut.

Shaquil Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette remain on track for free agency. Barrett has said he will seek to maximize his value, though Gronkowski and Brown have indicated they would prefer to stay with the Bucs. Despite the Bucs being the first team since 2009 to use a top-five pick on an off-ball linebacker (Devin White), they found room for a third David deal.

This contract does not match David’s 2015 accord in length (five years), but that deal averaged $10MM annually. This one includes a salary north of that mark. David and the Bucs negotiated for a bit last year but could not agree on terms, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) Demario Davis‘ late-season extension — worth $9MM annually — induced a delay. David wanted to top that, and after playing a pivotal role on Tampa Bay’s second Super Bowl team, the former second-round pick did so.

Pro Football Focus rated David as its No. 4 overall off-ball ‘backer last season. He finished off the season by helping the Bucs limit Travis Kelce in Super Bowl LV. The Browns were interested in signing David as well, but the Bucs are assured of bringing he and Godwin back. More work remains on Tampa’s core-retention project, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Interested In Lavonte David

Barring an extension by March 15, Lavonte David will have his first crack at free agency. After playing a key role in helping the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, the veteran linebacker will have a strong market.

If the Bucs let David reach free agency, the Browns should be expected to play a role in driving said market. The team has the nine-year veteran on its radar, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports.

Chris Godwin and Shaquil Barrett have been the Bucs connected to the franchise tag. While Jason Licht said the Bucs will make a strong push to retain David on a third contract, he could be eager to see what his market looks like. The Bucs have these three, along with Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette, due for free agency.

David and the Bucs spent time negotiating a deal last year but could not come to terms. He then played out the final season of his $10MM-AAV contract. As of late February, the Browns have $20MM in cap space to the Bucs’ $13MM. Cleveland being in the J.J. Watt mix could deplete those funds in advance of unrestricted free agency’s outset, though Tampa Bay has a far more extensive group of internal free agents.

Although the Browns made their first playoff berth in 18 years last season, they ranked 25th in defensive DVOA. One of the NFL’s best linebackers over the past decade, David would check a key box for Cleveland. Going into his age-31 season, David should still be expected to command a lucrative deal. Pro Football Focus graded the former second-round pick as its No. 4 overall off-ball linebacker last season.

The Browns, according to Cabot, are also expected to be interested in Breshad Perriman, a former Ravens first-round pick who has since found better NFL footing with the Bucs and Jets. Another Rashard Higgins contract is also in play for the Browns, who have Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. signed through 2021. Perriman caught 30 passes for 505 yards last season, doing so after posting 645 yards in 2019 with the Bucs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs To Make Strong Push To Keep Lavonte David

The high-profile Buccaneers free agent that has not generated much in the way of offseason headlines remains a priority for the team. Tampa Bay does not plan on letting Lavonte David leave without making a strong effort to retain him.

With the franchise since 2012, David is in the same boat with a rather famous collection of more recent Buccaneer additions — Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Shaquil Barrett and Chris Godwin — in being on the cusp of free agency. And the Bucs already have a major linebacker investment under contract, in former top-five pick Devin White.

Bucs GM Jason Licht said it would be “extremely important” to keep the David-White tandem together, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). David signed a five-year, $50.25MM extension in 2015 and has remained a quality linebacker throughout that deal. His next contract will come ahead of his age-31 season.

The sides were not believed to have made substantial progress in their extension talks last year, and little has emerged indicating otherwise in the months since. But David did say at the time he wants to retire as a member of the Buccaneers. Pro Football Focus graded David as its fourth-best off-ball linebacker last season, putting him on track for big money from the Bucs or another team soon.

Since David’s last extension, C.J. Mosley and Bobby Wagner moved the needle for traditional linebackers considerably. Wagner’s $18MM-per-year extension tops that market, and 10 other linebackers signed deals worth more than David’s since his 2015 extension agreement. Although the salary cap reduction figures to play a role in older veterans’ earning prospects this year, David should still have a live market. And he may reside behind Barrett and Godwin in the Bucs’ free agency pecking order, creating an interesting situation ahead of the legal tampering period’s March 15 opening.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Notes: Brown, David, Mickens

Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards in his Tampa Bay debut last week, a shocking 38-3 defeat to the Saints. And while he tries to focus on returning to form on the field, his ongoing civil case continues to evolve. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Britney Taylor, who has sued Brown for sexual assault and rape, has filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint to include a claim for punitive damages (Twitter link).

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details, Taylor filed a three-page affidavit along with the motion reiterating her allegations. She avers that in June 2017, Brown masturbated in her presence and ejaculated on her back without her knowledge or consent, and that he raped her less than a year later.

The trial is presently set for December, but it is likely that it will be postponed, which means that Brown will be available for Tampa Bay through the end of the season and into the playoffs. However, the league has consistently maintained that it will suspend Brown again for any evidence that comes to light as a result of the litigation, and if a jury ultimately finds that Brown committed the offenses that Taylor alleges, the NFL will almost certainly levy additional punishment. But by that time, the Bucs may no longer be interested in Brown’s services.

Now for more on the Bucs:

  • Tampa’s loss to the Saints has triggered a shakeup to the team’s O-line. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report (via Twitter), the club is shifting Ryan Jensen from center to left guard, while A.Q. Shipley — a longtime favorite of HC Bruce Arians — will get the nod at center. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, there was significant miscommunication last week between LT Donovan Smith and LG Joe Haeg, which led to the change. Regular LG Ali Marpet is still sidelined with a concussion.
  • The Bucs were said to be exploring an extension for LB Lavonte David this summer, and the last we heard, the two sides had not made much progress. Greg Auman of The Athletic says both player and team still want to continue their relationship, but with a number of players eligible for free agency this offseason, Tampa cannot just write a blank check (Twitter link).
  • Return specialist Jaydon Mickens was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, but it sounds like he was in contact with someone who tested positive and did not test positive himself. Mickens took to Instagram to say “I ain’t hurt. Ain’t nothing wrong with me. If you don’t understand why I ain’t playing, just go look it up. It’s some bulls—. But look, we’re about to go ahead and win this game” (h/t Jenna Laine of ESPN.com on Twitter). Assuming he did not test positive, Mickens could be back on the field next week.
  • DC Todd Bowles has drawn rave reviews for his work with the Bucs’ defense, and for good reason. His unit ranked sixth in defensive efficiency in 2019 and is currently the top defense in the league in that metric for 2020, despite last week’s blowout loss. Although Bowles was ousted as the Jets’ HC following the 2018 season, league-wide respect for his abilities did not diminish, and as Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes, there were eight teams interested in his services before he joined the Bucs. If his defenses continue performing at a high level, he could get another crack as a head coach in the near future.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Forbath, Saints

Currently in the Buccaneers‘ concussion protocol, Chris Godwin may miss their Week 2 game against the Panthers. But the 2019 breakout wide receiver still looms as a candidate to sign a lucrative extension. The fourth-year wideout is willing to be patient ahead of his next contract, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com noting (Insider link) the former third-round pick is willing to negotiate with the Bucs through the franchise tag or ahead of free agency. In April, Jason Licht said the team wants Godwin around for the long haul.

The Bucs already authorized a $16.5MM-per-year deal for Mike Evans — one of just two players ever to start a career with six straight 1,000-yard seasons (along with Randy Moss) — and the receiver market has ballooned since. A Godwin deal could come in north of $20MM annually, which would put Evans in a bit of a strange spot. With Godwin and Evans a big part of Tom Brady‘s two-year Tampa Bay commitment, the younger of the two Pro Bowl Bucs wideouts stands in good position as his contract season begins.

Here is the latest from Tampa and other NFC South cities:

  • Lavonte David began negotiating with the Bucs on another extension nearly three weeks ago. The sides have not made much progress, but Fowler notes David wants to retire as a Buccaneer. The 2012 second-round pick signed a five-year, $50.25MM deal in 2015. David joins Godwin as a contract-year Buccaneer, so the team will need to address one of these deals before free agency — in order to keep the franchise tag free for the other. David, 30, led all linebackers with 724 solo tackles during the 2010s and can conceivably push for a deal in the Bobby Wagner neighborhood ($18MM AAV).
  • Godwin and Evans represent a key reason why Leonard Fournette opted for a Tampa stay. The former Jaguars running back said the weapons the Bucs possess played a role in him agreeing to head to south Florida, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. As the centerpiece of the Jaguars’ offense for a while, Fournette faced stacked boxes on 39% of his carries from 2017-19, Palmer notes. Fournette received six touches in his Bucs debut but figures to become a bigger part of the offense in the games to come.
  • In addition to trading for Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs made another move to accommodate their new quarterback. They have given Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, an office at their facility, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. The Patriots did this at one point too but removed the TB12 co-architect’s office later. Guerrero is working with Brady, Gronk and several other Bucs, per La Canfora, who adds that some believe the Pats souring on Guerrero helped lead Brady out of New England.
  • The Panthers worked out Kai Forbath on Thursday. Second-year kicker Joey Slye, whom the team went with over former Pro Bowler Graham Gano, made all three of his field goal tries in Week 1 but missed a PAT. Slye missed four extra points last season. Carolina does not have a kicker on its practice squad.
  • Panthers rookie UDFA Sam Franklin has moved from linebacker to safety, according to defensive coordinator Phil Snow (via The Athletic’s Joe Person, on Twitter). Franklin’s primary role still figures to be special teams this season. He played 18 special teams snaps against the Raiders compared to just two on defense.
  • The Saints worked out defensive lineman Anthony Zettel on Thursday. The journeyman D-lineman signed a one-year Vikings deal earlier this year but did not stick on their roster.

Bucs Exploring Extension For LB Lavonte David

The Buccaneers have had recent extension talks with longtime linebacker Lavonte David, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). David is set to enter the final year of his current contract, which will pay him a salary of $10.75MM.

Tampa selected David, 30, in the second round of the 2012 draft. He earned a First Team All-Pro bid in his second professional season, and he picked up a Pro Bowl nod in 2015. Though he hasn’t earned any All-Pro or Pro Bowl recognition since, he has consistently performed as one of the best linebackers in the league. Advanced metrics and the eye test suggest that he is generally strong against both the pass and the run, and he has averaged 126 tackles per season throughout his career.

He has also been durable. He did miss a couple of games in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he bounced back to play a full 16-game slate last year. He has started all 121 of the games in which he has appeared.

So it makes sense that the Bucs would want to extend their relationship with David. The fact that he is typically not called upon to rush the passer means that he will not be paid like one of the top LBs in the league, but a multi-year pact with an average annual value in the $13-14MM range wouldn’t be out of the question.

David is still looking for his first playoff appearance, and he might just get it in 2020. In case you hadn’t heard, the Bucs made several high-profile acquisitions on the offensive side of the ball this offseason and managed to keep a strong defense intact. Though question marks remain in the secondary, the front seven is stout, and David and 2019 first-rounder Devin White look like they will continue serving as one of the game’s better LB tandems for at least the next couple of years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Brissett, Colts, Falcons, Saints, Bucs

When Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season, Jacoby Brissett ended up becoming the Colts’ starter after they acquired him from New England, and he filled in admirably. He’s remained in Indianapolis since then, despite trade rumors swirling ever since. Colts GM Chris Ballard said in January that the team viewed Brissett as a starter in the league, and that they’d have to be blown away to trade him.

We now have more details on their thinking, as sources at the combine told Tony Pauline of Draftanalyst.com that the Colts “would demand a second-round choice ” for Brissett. Pauline further explained their process, writing that if Brissett walks in free agency after this season the Colts think “they would likely receive a compensatory third-round pick based on the contract he’s likely to sign; hence the second-round price tag.” This could all just be posturing to elicit better offers for Brissett, but it definitely seems like the team is high on him.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • The Falcons have repeatedly expressed confidence that they’d be able to get a new deal done with Julio Jones, but there’s “not much going on” between the two sides, a source told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones is locked into a contract that is one of the best bargains in the NFL, and isn’t happy about it. He briefly held out last offseason before the team sweetened his deal with some incentives to draw him back. As McClure points out, GM Thomas Dimitroff has said the team is optimistic against getting a deal done, but there’s apparently been no progress. Jones could hold out again this summer, and it’ll be something to keep an eye on.
  • There were some rumors online that the Buccaneers could be shopping linebacker Lavonte David at the combine, but those apparently are false. Multiple sources told Jenna Laine of ESPN.com that David “is going nowhere.” David is still only 29 and received very good marks from Pro Football Focus last year, so it makes sense that the Bucs would want to keep him in the fold as they rebuild their porous defense.
  • The Saints are hiring former NFL linebacker Michael Wilhoite to their coaching staff, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Wilhoite will be a special teams assistant in New Orleans. Wilhoite played six seasons in the NFL from ’12-17, spending time with the 49ers and Seahawks.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, 49ers, Bucs, Panthers

The Cowboys don’t intend to fire head coach Jason Garrett during the season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t part ways with their head coach after the campaign is concluded, especially if Dallas doesn’t earn a postseason berth (something the team has a 26% chance to do, per FiveThirtyEight.com). Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has already been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Cowboys if Garrett is shown the door, but owner Jerry Jones, predictably, isn’t tipping his hand on any possible contenders for the head coaching job. “That would be total drawing it out of the air,” Jones said of Riley, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “Totally speculation.” Riley has also been mentioned as a target for the Browns, especially given that he coached Baker Mayfield with the Sooners.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Given how Nick Mullens has played through two starts, he’ll remain the 49ers‘ starting quarterback on an open-ended basis, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Mullens, who started in place on an injured C.J. Beathard in Week 9, completed 73% of his passes and tossed three touchdowns in his first career NFL action. While he came back to Earth a bit in Week 10 (250 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions), he still nearly led San Francisco to a victory over the Giants on Monday night. In the midst of what’s become a lost season, the 49ers might be well-served to get a full look at Mullens, who went undrafted out of Southern Mississippi in 2017.
  • Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David is likely to miss time with a sprained MCL, sources tell Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. While David has yet to be officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Giants, the nature of his injury usually dictates a two-to-four weeks absence, per Laine, meaning David could conceivably be sidelined through mid-December. Tampa Bay can ill afford another injury at the linebacker position, as the club has already placed starter Kwon Alexander and reserve Jack Cichy on injured reserve, while 2017 draft choice Kendell Beckwith is still on the non-football injury list.
  • Panthers defensive tackle Dontari Poe collected a $125K bonus today by weighing in at less than 330 pounds, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Poe inked a three-year, $28MM contract with Carolina this offseason, and the deal provides the opportunity for the interior defender to collect up to $500K per season via weight bonuses. The former Chief and Falcon is playing far fewer snaps in 2018 than he has in years prior — whereas he typically played in 75%+ of his team’s snaps from 2012-16, he’s now sitting at the 50% mark with Carolina.

Bucs LB Lavonte David Has Ankle Sprain

Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David does not have a high-ankle sprain as originally reported, as in fact only dealing with a medial left ankle sprain which will render him week-to-week, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Head coach Dirk Koetter hinted at as much when speaking to reporters earlier today, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes.Lavonte David (vertical)

“I think you’re jumping the gun on Lavonte,” Koetter said. “It’s not as bad as it looked, number one. It looked bad. X-rays were negative. Knock on wood, it’s not as bad as it looked or previously reported.”

If he’s forced to miss time, the 27-year-old David will undoubtedly be missed. Through three games, David was ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 linebacker in the NFL. Though it comes from a small sample size, his 88.1 score is exceptional and nearly as strong as his career-high 93.5 score in 2013. The 2013 season marked his sole first-team All Pro selection.

Last year, David had a perfect attendance record as he tallied 87 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He also had an interception, the tenth of his career.

A hamstring injury also kept starting linebacker Kwon Alexander out of action on Sunday. If Alexander cannot go on Sunday, the Bucs could be a bit thin in the front seven when they face the Giants.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lavonte David Suffers High Ankle Sprain

The Buccaneers could be without Lavonte David for the near future. The cornerstone defender suffered what’s believed to be a high ankle sprain in Tampa Bay’s loss to the Vikings on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

David will undergo an MRI Monday morning, which will lead to a clearer timetable. But given the nature of this injury, it’s likely the stalwart outside linebacker misses some time.

Should David miss games because of this malady, they will mark his first absences since the 2014 season. David missed two games that year. During his other four NFL seasons, the former second-round pick suited up for all 16 Bucs contests. A hamstring injury sidelined David in 2014.

A former first-team All-Pro, David made seven tackles in Tampa Bay’s Week 3 defeat. A cart transported the sixth-year defender to the locker room. Worries about a knee injury swirled after the seminal sequence, but it appears David’s dodged a season-ending setback.

The Bucs were already playing without fellow standout ‘backer Kwon Alexander. Rookie Kendell Beckwith started in the middle for Alexander, who missed the Vikings matchup with a hamstring injury. So, Tampa’s defensive second level is reeling at the moment.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.