After spending his first 11 NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, linebacker Lavonte David is set to hit free agency. The 33-year-old has at least 87 tackles in every season he’s played, showing great durability and providing a high level of impact throughout his career. With the Buccaneers way over the cap and no longer a Super Bowl contender following Tom Brady’s retirement, it’s possible David departs this offseason.
If he does, several defenses around the league should be interested in adding a player who had his highest tackle total since 2015 just last year. David appears to still have plenty left in the tank despite being an older player. He has the versatility to play inside or outside linebacker, thanks to his coverage ability and instincts.
Though David stated earlier this offseason that he prefers to finish his career with the Buccaneers, as of late January, he hadn’t spoken with the team about a new deal. David was also clear that he understands the business side of the game and will look to continue playing either way.
Lavonte David Free Agency Predictions
Las Vegas Raiders Can Add Lavonte David to Top-Heavy Roster
Last year, the Las Vegas Raiders made headlines by trading for Davante Adams and signing Chandler Jones. They could again chase immediate success this offseason as they’re a possible destination for Aaron Rodgers. If the Raiders succeed in replacing Derek Carr with a veteran passer, then adding someone like David on the defensive side is a must.
Vegas’ defense is highly dependent on their pass rush, but Jones was all but invisible last year. Adding impactful contributors on a budget will be a must. It’s hard to imagine David earning the $14.785 million he made in 2022, considering his age and limited ability as a pass rusher and turnover threat, but he also won’t be cheap.
That doesn’t mean a solid, dependable player isn’t an upgrade, though. The Raiders’ 26th-ranked scoring defense failed to produce one player with 90 tackles. Adding David to a trio of Divine Deablo and Denzel Perryman would help bring balance and more reliability to the second layer of their defense.
Perryman is a free agent as well, though, so it’s possible Las Vegas embraces more of a youth movement and uses David as the veteran of the group. Perryman is more limited on passing downs but is also a traditional run-stopping presence compared to David. They could co-exist if the Raiders could land both.
Cleveland Browns Bolster Young LB Room With David
Cleveland is going through a defensive overhaul this offseason, which started when they hired Jim Schwartz as the unit’s coordinator. Expect the Browns to raise the floor of a unit that was decimated by injuries and questionable playmaking. The biggest eyesore on the defense was the linebacker corps, where no one player started more than 10 games in 2022.
Getting a full season from Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will be critical for the unit’s success, but Schwartz needs more from the group. Reggie Ragland, Deion Jones, and Sione Takitaki appeared capable in their limited playing time, but David is a different level of contributor. He’s a sure thing who the team can count on to be in the right place and right time.
The Browns will have a respectable amount of cap space after restructures and cuts, making David one of their bigger potential free agent targets. He can help this unit get back closer to the top-10 ranking they’ve shown capable of reaching. It also helps he doesn’t require long-term investment.
Detroit Lions Add Leadership With David
The Detroit Lions are done with rebuilding and are actively looking to make the playoffs in 2023. They weren’t far off in 2022 despite their defense ranking dead last in yards allowed and 28th in points. For their playoff hopes to be realized, Detroit must bolster the defense’s talent base.
That includes the linebacker position. With Alex Anzalone hitting free agency and not being a particularly impactful starter, David can be the unit’s new anchor. Detroit can leverage David’s experience to also develop youngsters Malcolm Rodriguez and Derrick Barnes.
Giving David a defensive captain’s role and the play-calling responsibilities as the green dot makes too much sense. Detroit has cap space to work with and clear needs in their back seven. David could also be an asset, with the Lions potentially adding two first-round rookies to the defensive side of the ball.
Lavonte David’s Market Value, Career Stats, and More
It’s entirely possible the Buccaneers figure out how to retain David despite being in an ugly cap space situation. He’s our No. 11 free agent this offseason, so Tampa can justify spending on the franchise’s star even as he ages. David is an elite coverage option and consistently totals high tackle numbers.
His last deal was essentially a two-year contract with three void years in order to lower his cap hit. Unless David takes another team-friendly deal, it’s possible his next deal rivals the $12.5 million per year deal that his last averaged.
David had the eighth-highest average salary per year with his last deal, and there’s no reason to think he’d suddenly get less on a short two or three-year contract. OverTheCap.com valued David at $12.488 million, right on par with his contract. Teams may be able to lower his yearly cap hit again with void years.
Lavonte David Career Stats
- Tackles: 1,346 (949 solo)
- Sacks: 29
- Interceptions: 2
- Forced Fumbles: 27
- Pass Deflections: 59