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.
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