Buccaneers need to find a way to bring back Lavonte David this offseason

Weeks after declaring he'll finish his playing career as a Buccaneer, David seems set on returning for the 2024 season amid becoming a free agent in March

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

In the days leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, the majority of focus and speculation circulating around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the future of Baker Mayfield.

For Mayfield, free agency will be the time for the NFL's 2023 Most Improved Player to cash in on a career-best season for a lucrative long-term contract in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. It sounds like he's going to take things to the wire and won't settle for less, with reports that talks aren't going well creating some anxiety.

One major move the Bucs did make was re-signing Mike Evans to a two-year deal. In 154 games in Tampa Bay, Evans has totaled 762 catches for 11,680 receiving yards, and 94 touchdowns, in addition to ten consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, five Pro Bowl selections, and winning Super Bowl LVI.

In addition to Mayfield, roughly 20 Buccaneers will become free agents when the new league year begins. Among the remainder of Tampa Bay's free agent class is veteran linebacker Lavonte David, whose future in the NFL has been cloudy since the Buccaneers' season ended.

Buccaneers need to find a way to bring back Lavonte David this offseason

Days after the Buccaneers were eliminated by the Lions in the NFC Divisional Round, David told WDAE (Tampa Bay's Sports Radio) that he doesn't want to leave Tampa Bay until it's time to retire.

"Of course, I would want to do that. I would want to stay a Buc for the rest of my career as long as I play," David said. "I do want to retire a Buc, but, you know, it's just got to be a mutual thing."

In the days leading up to free agency, however, David spoke from a new perspective about playing in the 2024 season in an appearance with Good Morning Football on Thursday.

“Man, I’m ready to play. I still feel like I’ve got a lot left in me. Still going to give it a shot. I’m going to let my body tell me when it’s time to give up and when it’s time to let it go. But right now, I feel pretty good. I’ve got a lot of confidence," David said. "Especially after the season we just had. I’ve been hearing a lot of praise and stuff like that. For a guy like me, up there in age, I like to hear that. So, it definitely gives me confidence to keep it going.”

At 33 years old, David is certainly past his prime, but still complied a solid campaign last season. In 15 starts, David recorded 134 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, five pass breakups, and five quarterback hits. In addition, David posted a 6.8% missed tackle rate, the lowest mark of his career, and a career-high four quarterback pressures.

Ever since being drafted by the Buccaneers with the No. 58 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, David has been Tampa Bay's defensive anchor. In 181 career games and starts, David has recorded 1,480 tackles, 160 tackles for loss, 67 quarterback hits, 33.5 sacks, 64 pass breakups, 12 interceptions, 28 forced fumbles, and 18 fumble recoveries.

Re-signing David shouldn't be an issue, and there really shouldn't be a question about it. In 2023, David chose to sign a one-year, $4.5 million contract worth up to $7.3 million in incentives but was minimal in comparison to signing somewhere else. With David still serving as a solid linebacker, paying up to retain the veteran shouldn't be an issue for Tampa Bay this offseason.

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