Even before the offseason began general manager Jason Licht called Lavonte David’s contract extension a top priority for the Buccaneers. However, it may take a little while before the two sides reach an agreement .
According Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, David and the Buccaneers are still far apart in their negotiations. The holdup has likely more to do with the lack of market value that’s been set for 4-3 outside linebackers.
“The one thing I don’t want lost is that we do realize Lavonte is one of the elite (outside) linebackers in the league,” Licht said Thursday. “He’s a cornerstone player and he should be rewarded for his outstanding play and what he means to this organization… We just need to find common ground.”
While Kansas City Chief’s star Justin Houston set a new bar last week for 3-4 linebackers at $100 million, top 4-3 outside linebackers don’t tend to get the same recognition. For example, Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict and Carolina’s Thomas Davis recently signed extensions worth around $6-9 million a year. Although, in Burfict’s case, the money is front loaded due to past off-field issues that make the Bengals hesitant to commit to a long-term deal. And in Davis’ case, the 32-year old signed a two-year extension through 2017 in June worth up to $14 million that’s added to his cap hit of $5.9 million in 2015.
Because David doesn’t have an injury or off-field history like Burfict, and is seven years younger than Davis, he likely has leverage for demanding a longer extension with $6-7 million spread over each year. As Rick Stroud pointed out, the highest paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL was 49ers’ star Patrick Willis, who signed a five-year, $50 million extension in 2010 that included a $15.5 million signing bonus and $20.3 million guaranteed. David could be looking for something in between Willis’ and Burfict’s deal.
Currently, David is set to make $758,418 in the final year of his rookie contract that includes a $125,000 workout bonus. For a player who’s led the team in tackles all three seasons (second in the league in that span) and is recognized as one of the NFL’s premiere outside linebackers, David will ultimately cash in on a new deal, no matter if it happens before camp or sometime during the season.
“It may seem a little complicated right now,” Licht said, “But we’re sure this is going to get done.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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