Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David didn’t take long to let everyone know about his new deal with the team.
David posted Instagram stories about his new one-year, $7 million deal on Wednesday, March 15, to remain with the Bucs for a 12th season. The former Nebraska star has only played for the Bucs in his NFL career.
“Back at it,” David wrote on Instagram with a flame emoji.
David also wrote “loyalty above all” on Instagram regarding his return to the Bucs. Tampa Bay drafted David in 2012 as a second-round pick, and he produced on the field ever since. He has 1,346 tackles, 29 sacks, 18 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns in his career. His durability made it possible as he has never missed more than five games in a season.
Things looked potentially bleak for the once salary cap-strapped Bucs to re-sign David. Tampa Bay sat at $58.5 million over the salary cap before the new league year, and David ranked No. 6 among all free agents in Pro Football Focus’ rankings. According to Spotrac before David’s signing, he commanded up to $9.7 million annually.
David Tested Market But Wanted to Stay
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported last week that David would “test the free agent market” and that the Bucs would have a hard time re-signing him. With that said, David previously expressed his desire to remain with the Bucs during a February interview with WDAE.
“For sure. I’d love to retire as a Buccaneer,” David told WDAE’s Tom Krasniqi and Ronnie Lane. “Getting to play in the same building my whole career like guys like Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, that’d be amazing. Just to walk the same hallways they walked their whole career.”
“Especially Derrick Brooks, you all know how I feel about Derrick. Every time he comes around, my eyes light up,” David added. “So, he’s definitely a guy who I kind of want to model after, just be a guy who played with Tampa their whole career and was just a staple for what they do.”
While the Bucs don’t have a defense on par with the 2002 Super Bowl champion defense that David referenced, David’s return helps the Bucs stay strong on defense in 2023. The Bucs also recently re-signed cornerback Jamel Dean and linebacker Anthony Nelson for a unit that finished ninth in total defense last year.
Bucs Poised to Add Another Pass Rusher
David’s and Anthony’s return particularly helps the linebacking corps, which faced a big loss last season with Shaquil Barrett‘s ACL tear.
It’s no guarantee that Barrett will return to 2021 form before the injury where he posted 10 sacks, a third-straight season of eight or more sacks. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles indicated that there is some doubt on how strong Barrett will return and that the team will need more pass rush help in 2023.
“He is where he needs to be right now,” Bowles told reporters during the NFL Combine. “We will see going forward.”
“[Shaq’s status] doesn’t have a bearing on what we will do or won’t do,” Bowles added. “You can’t have enough pass rushers regardless of who it is, but hopefully Shaq makes it back and we will see what happens.”