While the Bucs are focused on keeping their Super Bowl LV champion team together by re-signing their own free agents, especially linebacker Lavonte David, Tampa Bay will be looking to upgrade a number of positions. PewterReport.com takes a look at each unit over the next week, showcasing which players Tampa Bay could lose, and which players might replace them, including our Bucs’ Best Bets
Table of Contents
2021 Bucs Free Agent LBs
Lavonte David Kevin Minter Jack Cichy Deone Bucannon
At this point, it goes without saying that Lavonte David is the heart and soul of the Bucs’ defense. He’s been through it all in his nine-year career, going through tumultuous losing seasons which finally paid off with a Super Bowl championship this year. David was a captain once again for the team and a leader among the defensive unit. The Bucs star defender had another good season despite getting overlooked nationally, and was once again a huge help in the development of linebacker Devin White.
In fact, the two linebackers gel together so well and were an integral part of the Bucs’ dominant performances in the postseason. David posted another 100-tackle season when he recorded 117 stops along with 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He was paid $10.8 million last season, and it’s likely he’ll want more than that this time around. The question is how much more other teams will be willing to offer him, and whether it’s enough to entice David to leave.
Special teams captain Kevin Minter showed his importance as a backup linebacker while filling in for White in Week 17 and the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Not every player is going to be a star, but Minter is an accomplished veteran who is respected in the locker room. Cichy was cut and brought back during the season last year, while Bucannon was a late add near the end of the year for depth purposes. It’s unlikely either player is back next season.
Top NFL Free Agent LBs Available
1. Lavonte David – Bucs 2. Matt Milano – Bills 3. Jayon Brown – Titans 4. K.J. Wright – Seahawks 5. Denzel Perryman – Chargers
Others: Alexander Johnson (Broncos), Nicholas Morrow (Raiders), Eric Wilson (Vikings), B.J. Goodson (Browns), Avery Williamson (Steelers), Christian Kirksey (Packers), Neville Hewitt (Jets), Adarius Taylor (Panthers), David Mayo (Giants), Josh Bynes (Bengals), Elandon Robets (Dolphins) Malcolm Smith (Browns), Alex Anzalone (Saints), Nate Gerry (Eagles), Kevin Pierre-Louis (Washington)
Bucs’ LB Outlook
It doesn’t get much better in the NFL than having David and White at linebacker as the quarterbacks of your defense. Both athletes play off of each other very well, and David’s unique skill set in coverage and as a blitzer are huge assets to the Bucs defense.
If you need him to cover a top tight end, he’ll do it. Blitz the quarterback? He’s on it. There’s very few things David can’t do, even at 31, and his leadership on the team can’t be overlooked. Every team needs that veteran experience in their back 6-7 defensively, and without David and Minter, the Bucs would be lacking in that area, making linebacker their top offseason priority.
Bucs’ Best Bet: LB Lavonte David
I mentioned this on the Pewter Report Podcast on Wednesday and it remains true. If there’s an alternate universe out there where Lavonte David is playing in the NFL and it’s not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don’t want to be part of that universe. David means everything to this team, and it would be a huge setback to the defense if David departs in free agency, even with the very talented White.
Pewter Report’s Mark Cook had a great column in the latest Hook where he explains the importance of David staying with the team for his whole career. The Bucs’ defense helped win them a Super Bowl with top level play in the postseason. As the team goes for two straight titles, they need to do what they can to keep the same unit intact, which starts with retaining David at inside linebacker.