Reason 3: Lavonte David is the heart and soul of the defense
Make no mistake about it, Lavonte David is the unequivocal leader of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. While Devin White and Shaquil Barrett deservedly get a lot of credit, there is not a soul on that defense that wouldn’t say that Lavonte David is the leader. You don’t get that gold “C” on your chest for nothing.
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Devin White has stated many times the importance of bringing back David. While White is a little more vocal, David is the one that sets the tone for the entire defense. Besides being a good player, David is the most senior of all the defensive stars on this Bucs team. He has been through hell and back with this team and for this team.
As stated previously, he doesn’t have the best stats, and many people may want to keep Shaquil Barrett over Lavonte David, but if they do that, they may run the risk of losing a leader. Replacing elite talent is always easier than replacing elite leadership. This is not to say that the Bucs shouldn’t keep both. If there’s an opportunity, they definitely should. But if they had to pick one, they would be better off keeping the man who went through hell with this team.
Another part of why David is so special is his ability to mentor young talent. There’s no doubt that Devin White was destined to be a great NFL linebacker, but if it wasn’t for David’s leadership and excellent play on the field, White may not have that same elite status that he does now. The longer White plays alongside Lavonte David, the better he will become in pass coverage and overall leadership.
What David will look for in his next contract is still unknown. He may want to break the bank just like Barrett wants to do, but in fairness, he did sign that five-year, 50.25 million dollar contract in 2015, so he got his big payday. David is also 31 years old, so this is also working a little bit against him. But if one thing is true it’s this: He better not get the franchise tag. He has done too much for this team to get tagged.
There are very few players who come through an organization that plays well, are great men, and who are even better leaders, and when a franchise gets them, they better hold on to them. Lavonte David is one of these players and the Buccaneers are fortunate enough to have him on their team. While free agency comes with many unknowns, there is one thing for sure, the Bucs cannot move on from the heart and soul of this team.