Lavonte David

Lavonte David Only Considering Re-Signing With Buccaneers Or Retiring

Last offseason, Lavonte David was interested in testing free agency before ultimately re-signing with the Buccaneers. This time around, it sounds like the veteran linebacker isn’t as eager to stretch out his free-agent process.

During an appearance on The Ronnie & TKras Show on WDAE, the impending free agent acknowledged that he’s only considering re-signing with the Buccaneers or calling it a career.

“I would want to stay a Buc for the rest of my career as long as I play,” David said (h/t Cory Woodroof of For the Win). “I do want to retire a Buc, but, y’know, it’s just got to be a mutual thing.”

After flirting with the idea of playing elsewhere last offseason, the 12-year veteran played out the 2023 campaign on a one-year, $4.5MM contract with the Buccaneers. Despite 2023 marking his age-33 season, David proceeded to have one of the most productive seasons of his career. He finished the year having compiled 134 tackles and 4.5 sacks, with Pro Football Focus rating him as the No. 28 overall linebacker.

Following his underwhelming free agency experience, David is now making it clear that it’s Tampa-or-bust heading into this offseason. The former second-round pick certainly deserves to finish his career with the Buccaneers, as it’s the only team he’s played for since entering the NFL in 2012. He ranks second in franchise history in total tackles (1,480, behind Derrick Brooks‘ 1,713), and he’s top-10 in the majority of the franchise’s other defensive categories (including first in forced fumbles).

The Buccaneers have good reason to get clarity on David’s situation as soon as possible. If the organization does not re-sign David before the start of the 2024 league year on March 13, they will be hit with a $2.67MM dead-money charge. Of course, the team’s financial hurdles aren’t nearly as troubling this year; after carrying more than $70MM in dead money this past year, the Bucs are projected to hold more than $37MM in cap space heading into the offseason.

Even with those previous monetary limitations, the Buccaneers have done an admirable job of retaining many of their top free agents. So, the front office probably won’t think twice about bringing David back for at least another season.

Buccaneers Want To Re-Sign LB Lavonte David; No Baker Mayfield Talks Yet

The Buccaneers’ interest in retaining Mike Evans and Antoine Winfield Jr. has been fairly well documented at this point, but the organization wants to retain one of its other Super Bowl starters. Lavonte David remains in the team’s plans.

Wrapping his 12th year with the Bucs, David is still playing at a high level. The veteran defender led the team with 134 tackles — his most since 2015 — and produced 4.5 sacks (his most since 2016). While Devin White‘s propensity for freelancing has undercut his athleticism, David has offered the team much more consistency. And the Bucs are placing a priority on David finishing his career in Tampa, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes.

While White could well be on the move after a disappointing contract year in which he saw his role decrease, David still looks to have a great chance of playing another season in Tampa. David, 33, played out a one-year, $4.5MM contract. If the Bucs do not re-sign David before the start of the 2024 league year on March 13, they will be hit with a $2.67MM dead-money charge. That is unlikely to faze a team that spent a season with a $35.1MM in Tom Brady dead money on its books.

One of this era’s best off-ball linebackers, David’s Pro Bowl count is lacking (one) due to the NFL still grouping rush linebackers and non-rush ‘backers together. David, however, is a three-time All-Pro who is the team’s second-leading tackler. Only Derrick Brooks (1,713) has more than David (1,480) among Buccaneers. David played 15 games this season, rating as Pro Football Focus’ No. 28 overall linebacker.

After carrying more than $70MM in dead money this year, the Bucs are projected to hold more than $37MM in cap space. The statuses of Evans, Winfield and Baker Mayfield will likely cut into that figure and require more work. The franchise tag figures to come out, with Winfield the cheapest of Tampa Bay’s options (the safety tenure is projected to be $17.2MM). The Bucs, however, have done quite well in retaining their top free agents in recent years. They let Shaquil Barrett, Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean test free agency before re-signing each over the past three years.

Barrett acknowledged recently he is probably on the cap-casualty radar. If the Bucs designate the veteran sack artist as a post-June 1 cut, they would save $4.9MM. Void years and a restructure have Barrett’s through-2024 deal (four years, $68MM) sitting as a rather onerous figure on Tampa Bay’s payroll. Barrett is due a $15MM roster bonus if he is on the team as of the fifth day of the 2024 league year, Laine adds. The 31-year-old veteran’s situation will be one to monitor; coming back from an Achilles tear, Barrett tallied just 4.5 sacks in 16 games.

Both Mayfield and the Bucs want to extend this partnership, but the quarterback confirmed (via The Athletic’s Mike Jones) no talks have taken place yet. Mayfield put together a strong playoff outing to lead the Bucs to a Round 1 win over the Eagles. That brought the 2023 UFA signing an additional $250K, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

March 2023, which saw three midlevel veterans sign for between $25MM and $40MM per year, can be labeled a broad price range for Mayfield. Even eclipsing the Geno Smith AAV — on a three-year, $75MM deal — would be an achievement for Mayfield, who could only command a one-year deal worth $4MM. Then again, Smith’s contract represents the floor for established QBs. Mayfield could conceivably move toward the Daniel Jones price point, with ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano mentioning $40MM as a logical place for talks to end. That would put the Bucs to the test, seeing as Brady never topped $25MM per year (though, his money was fully guaranteed).

Building a roster with Mayfield at $40MM per annum would be much more difficult, but the market the former No. 1 pick would command if he reached free agency — as a few teams will be looking for veteran options — will work against the Bucs this time around. Given his value fluctuation in recent years, Mayfield will be one of this year’s most interesting free agents.

Contract Details: David, Eluemunor, Agholor, Howard

Here are a few contract details on deals recently reached around the league:

  • Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): One year, $4.5MM. The deal, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports, is quite a complicated one. It has guaranteed money at $3.34MM, consisting of David’s signing bonus. The remainder of the contract value is a veteran league minimum salary of $1.17MM. The signing bonus is spread out over four void years that help dissipate his cap hit.
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Ravens): One year, $3.25MM. The contract, according to Wilson, is fully guaranteed with a $2.09MM signing bonus adding to the veteran league minimum base salary of $1.17MM. There is $3MM of incentives based on playing time, playoffs, catches, yards, and touchdowns. The Ravens somewhat uncharacteristically gave Agholor a high enough value to qualify him as a seventh-round valued compensatory free agent signing. The move wipes out a sixth-round compensatory pick that Baltimore would’ve received in 2024 for the departure of tight end Josh Oliver. The team also continues to go outside their comfort zone by once again creating a contract with void years, something they had never done prior to this offseason. Agholor’s deal has four void years to spread his cap hit out over time.
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, T (Raiders): One year, $3MM. The new contract, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, has a guaranteed amount of $2.29MM, which includes a signing bonus of $491,000 and most of Eluemunor’s base salary. The deal includes a $142,000 workout bonus and a per game active roster bonus of $30,000 for a potential season total of $510,000.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Raiders): One year, $1.23MM. The deal, according to Wilson, includes a guaranteed amount of $451,250, consisting of a $76,250 signing bonus and $375,000 of his base salary (worth a total of $1.08MM).

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.

LB Rumors: Wagner, David, Bills, Al-Shaair

The Seahawks may be interested in bringing back Bobby Wagner. John Schneider and Pete Carroll spoke with the future Hall of Fame linebacker recently, according to the GM. Schneider said (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta) the team will keep in contact with Wagner during his free agency. The Seahawks shed Wagner’s pricey deal from their payroll last year, but with the decorated ex-Seattle defender not in position to command a lucrative long-term deal ahead of his age-33 season, a reunion would make a bit more sense. The team has also rebounded quicker than most expected post-Wagner and Russell Wilson, reaching the playoffs. Wagner is believed to be eyeing a contender, having asked for his Rams release. Pro Football Focus rated Wagner as the NFL’s top off-ball linebacker last season, which was also Wagner’s ninth straight first- or second-team All-Pro campaign.

Here is the latest from the league’s linebacker scene:

  • Wagner and Lavonte David will both be available on the market. David is not planning to re-sign with the Buccaneers ahead of free agency, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. If Tampa Bay wants its 10-year starter back, it will need to outbid others to secure such a deal. The Bucs managed to bring back David (and every other in-house free agent of consequence) in 2021, agreeing to a two-year deal. After the standout defender played out that contract, he joins Wagner in being a UFA linebacker ahead of an age-33 season. The Bucs remain in the league’s worst cap shape, so they will have a tough time bringing back David, who stands to command another short-term accord.
  • 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair will have a clear connection to the Texans, with DeMeco Ryans now their head coach. The Texans also hired ex-49ers assistant Chris Kiffin as their linebackers coach. Kiffin is a big fan of Al-Shaair, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, who notes Ryans is probably quite high on the free agent-to-be as well (subscription required). The 49ers have Fred Warner locked into a top-market contract and inked Dre Greenlaw to a midlevel extension last year. They are bracing to lose Al-Shaair, who figures to generate interest from the Ryans-led team.
  • Bills GM Brandon Beane said the team has discussed a new deal with Tremaine Edmunds, the biggest fish in a deep off-ball linebacker pond this year. But Edmunds’ comments last month still point to him reaching free agency to listen to other teams’ offers. Although this is a crowded market, Edmunds should still expect to do well in his first free agency foray.
  • The FalconsLorenzo Carter two-year deal carries a base value of $9MM, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The ex-Giant will earn $5.25MM guaranteed on his second Falcons contract, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com adds (via Twitter). He will carry a $5.25MM cap hit in 2023, and Yates adds an additional $1MM will be available via incentives.

Lavonte David Eyeing New Buccaneers Deal

The top storyline of the Buccaneers’ offseason to date has of course been the second retirement of Tom Brady and the team’s resultant need for a new starting quarterback. A mainstay on the defensive side of the ball also faces an uncertain future, however, and figures to be a top priority.

Linebacker Lavonte David is a pending free agent, but he has no intention of testing the open market to head elsewhere this offseason. The 33-year-old has spent his entire 11-year career in Tampa Bay, serving as a defensive captain and consistent producer along the way. His preference would be to finish his NFL tenure where it started.

While making an appearance on WDAE radio during Super Bowl week, David said that contract talks have yet to commence between he and the Buccaneers’ front office. He expects that to change soon, however, with a new deal keeping him in the middle of the team’s defense likely to be one of Tampa’s top offseason goals. The former second-rounder remained a full-time starter in 2022, registering more than 100 tackles for the ninth time in his career while adding three sacks and a forced fumble.

“Obviously, I would love to be back in Tampa,” David said, via Bailey Adams of Pewter Report. “I played 11 years there. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I’m not naïve to the business side of football. So, I’m definitely grateful for whatever happens after.”

David played on one of the largest cap hits in the league amongst defenders last season ($14.79MM). The Buccaneers would certainly like to lower that figure on a new contract, especially with Brady’s dead cap charge coming in full in 2023. However, his continued production and effective pairing alongside Devin White suggest David can remain a key member of the team’s defense for at least the short term.

A new contract would allow David to continue climbing the ranks in the franchise’s record books in a number of categories. He ranks third all-time in tackles (1,346) and fifth in games played (166), numbers which would each grow considerably if he gets his wish and is able to continue his career in Tampa.

Largest 2022 Cap Hits: Defense

After looking at this year’s top salary cap numbers on the offensive side of the ball, here is a rundown of the players counting the most toward their teams’ payrolls in 2022.

As could be expected, the salary figures here start below the quarterbacks. A few pass rushers, however, are tied to notable cap hits. Those numbers that check in within the top 20 leaguewide regardless of position. With the exception of true nose tackles and pure slot cornerbacks, every defensive position is represented here.

Here are the top cap figures on the defensive side for the ’22 season:

  1. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $31.12MM
  2. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $29.42MM
  3. Joey Bosa, OLB (Chargers): $28.25MM
  4. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $27.3MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DT (Rams): $27MM
  6. Jalen Ramsey, CB (Rams): $23.2MM
  7. Deion Jones, LB (Falcons): $20.1MM
  8. Bud Dupree, OLB (Titans): $19.2MM
  9. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.85MM
  10. Javon Hargrave, DT (Eagles): $17.8MM
  11. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $17.5MM
  12. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $17.42MM
  13. Robert Quinn, DE (Bears): $17.14MM
  14. Matt Judon, OLB (Patriots): $16.5MM
  15. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $16MM
  16. Shaquill Griffin, CB (Jaguars): $16.44MM
  17. Tre’Davious White, CB (Bills): $16.4MM
  18. J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): $15.9MM
  19. Marcus Peters, CB (Ravens): $15.5MM
  20. Carl Lawson, DE (Jets): $15.33MM
  21. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $15.1MM
  22. Lavonte David, LB (Buccaneers): $14.79MM
  23. Budda Baker, S (Cardinals): $14.78MM
  24. Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): $14.5MM
  25. Trey Hendrickson, DE (Bengals): $14.49MM
  • Illustrating how much the cap has climbed over the past several seasons, T.J. Watt is tied to a number nearly twice that of J.J. Watt, who has been tied to $16.7MM-per-year (a defender-record number in 2014) and $14MM-AAV deals as a pro. Trailing his older brother in Defensive Player of the Year honors, T.J. is signed to an edge defender-record $28MM-per-year accord.
  • Jones’ four-year Chiefs deal vaults from an $8.5MM cap number in 2021 to the league’s second-highest defensive figure this year. The standout defensive tackle’s cap hit accompanies Patrick Mahomes‘ $35.79MM number, which is well north of his 2021 figure, on Kansas City’s new-look payroll.
  • After two franchise tags, Williams scored a monster extension in 2021. The well-paid Giants D-lineman’s cap number this year is way up from his 2021 number ($9.4MM).
  • The Rams redid Donald’s contract last month, adding no new years to the through-2024 pact. The all-world defender’s cap hit actually decreases in 2023, dropping to $26MM
  • It is not certain Deion Jones will be back with the Falcons, who have jettisoned other Super Bowl LI cornerstones from the roster since the current regime took over in 2021. But they would save just $1MM were they to release the seventh-year linebacker.
  • To date, this represents the high-water mark for Mosley cap hits on his Jets deal, which at the time (2019) began a sea change for off-ball linebacker contracts. Mosley’s cap hit, on a pact that runs through 2024 because of the linebacker opting out of the 2020 season, increased by $10MM from 2021-22.
  • Hargrave is one of five Eagles pass rushers signed to veteran contracts. The ex-Steeler’s 2021 deal accompanies Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, and Fletcher Cox‘s new agreement on Philadelphia’s defensive front. As cap hits do not reflect average salaries, Hargrave is the only member of this quartet tied to an eight-figure cap number in 2022.
  • Quinn has also been connected to a departure, with the 31-year-old pass rusher skipping minicamp after it became known he would like to be traded away from the rebuilding team. His cap hit tops the Bears’ payroll. The Bears would save $12.9MM by trading Quinn, should another team sign up for taking on his full 2022 base salary.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/15/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers To Activate Lavonte David, Giovani Bernard; Leonard Fournette To Remain On IR

Part of the Buccaneers’ injured contingent will be back in uniform for the defending champions Sunday. Lavonte David and Giovani Bernard are set to come off IR on Saturday, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

David suffered a foot injury in Week 15, joining Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin in going down during a shutout loss to the Saints. Godwin is done for the season, and Laine adds Fournette will not be activated ahead of Saturday’s roster-setting deadline. Fournette is battling a hamstring injury.

While Bernard has not played a key role this season, he will be in line to do so against the Eagles. Not only is Fournette out, but the Bucs also declared Ronald Jones out because of an ankle injury. Tampa Bay has Bernard, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Le’Veon Bell as its healthy backs.

Fournette carried the load for the Bucs for most of this season, reducing Jones and the others to bit parts. The former Jaguars top-five pick totaled a Bucs-most 1,266 scrimmage yards in 14 games. Fournette can still be activated ahead of a divisional-round game or the NFC championship, provided this Bucs iteration’s season extends that far.

One of the NFL’s top off-ball linebackers over the past 10 seasons, David was instrumental to the Bucs claiming their second Super Bowl title last season. He totaled 97 tackles and two forced fumbles this season and ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 linebacker. David will be tasked with leading a charge against an Eagles team that leads the NFL in rushing.

Bruce Arians said Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are also on track to return against Philadelphia. While Barrett was a full practice participant Friday, JPP did not suit up for even a limited session due to his shoulder and knee injuries. JPP is not on IR, however, and has not been declared out.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/12/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Dallas Cowboys 

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers