Most Bucs fans and media have expected that star linebacker Lavonte David would return to the team as a 31-year old free agent this spring, settling into a multi-year contract to finish his career as a Buccaneer. But NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo dropped a bomb on Wednesday, predicting that David will end up playing somewhere else in 2021.

“Lavonte David, the linebacker – I mean, at some point you’re getting to a point where you just don’t have enough money for everybody,” Garafolo said on NFL Network Wednesday afternoon. “So I think there is the general sense that Lavonte David is going to be headed elsewhere. I know the Browns have been mentioned by Mary Kay Cabot, who has covered that team for quite some time. They will have company. There’s a lot of teams out there looking to upgrade their defense and they’ve got a lot of money to spend here. So I would think Lavonte David is going to wind up being elsewhere in 2021.”

Garafolo is sort of ambiguous about where he’s hearing this from, not providing much clarity on if this is an actual report or if he is simply guessing David is the odd man out from the Bucs large group of free agents. He’s also incorrect about the Bucs not having enough money to sign everyone – we’ve detailed in articles and podcasts with cap experts that they absolutely can bring back everyone, it’s simply a matter of how creative they are willing to get to make those moves this offseason. They have more cap space to work with than most teams this offseason, and are among the teams with the most cap space in the league for 2022 and 2023 right now.

David is 31 and heading into the twilight years of his career, but he remains one of the few difference-making linebackers in the NFL. After toiling in obscurity in Tampa Bay for nine years, it would be surprising to see David want to leave right as the team is entering a period of potential dominance, but it is understandable that someone would offer him more money than Tampa Bay will. Is it enough to get him to leave the only NFL home he’s ever known this late in his career?

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Barnz1
4 months ago

It is worth worrying about if he heard it from someone within the organization. But as you point out Garafolo seemed to guessing based on his own opinion.

I don’t see defensive players like Lavonte (or Shaq) going anywhere. Godwin third on that list given defense lead us in the playoffs but I think he stays too. Lots of work behind the scenes with cuts and restructures will be done to ensure this.

Last edited 4 months ago by Barnz1
RW
RW
4 months ago

I think David stays but I think Barrett goes. David has made big money and Bcs will sign him with a reasonable contract of 2-3 years.

Captain Sly
4 months ago

Garrafalo isn’t saying anything that no one else is thinking. If someone offers Lavonte David a considerably better deal than what we’re offering or even willing to pay I can’t fault LVD for signing elsewhere. Nothing left to do here. Why Pass up millions $ just to say I played my whole career with one team. Love to see you stay but we’re not getting into a bidding war to keep you. We need that future capitol for when Vea, White, and some of our younger stars who are coming up through the pipeline.

gcolerick
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

Ah…..because he’s already made millions, will still make more millions staying put, wants another superbowl ring and enjoys the camaraderie of his current teammates. Any other questions?

Captain Sly
Reply to  gcolerick
4 months ago

That’s all possible, However in the end nobody knows his real motivation right. Except Lavante!

bucballer
4 months ago

So, u think after being here for eight years and some very lean win years and then finally getting a taste of playoff victories and coming off a SuperBowl win in his ninth year that NOW he would leave with a chance to repeat as champs? If the Bucs were not interested in his return and he wasn’t interested in staying, then I would say there’s a chance. I think he resigns and gets paid as well. David needs to retire as one of the great Bucs as I think he will.

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  bucballer
4 months ago

Of all the free agents we have, LVD was the one I am least worried about tbh. He wasn’t a champion last time he signed an extension here, and the Bucs know his value.

Captain Sly
Reply to  bucballer
4 months ago

I think for a 31 year old aging veteran LB who’s won a SB given when given the opportunity to sign a multi million $ contract elsewhere vs excepting less $ to stay with the Bucs will more understandably choose the bigger contract.

SaskBucs
4 months ago

Agreed Bucballer. David us never struck me as the kind of guy to jump ship for cash. The difference shouldn’t be that much… what’s 3 million more in Cleveland worth to him? Probably not much.

Taxes, sunshine and now a winner … I certainly hope he is a priority right now. We have all seen how important coverage LBs are in today’s pass happy game. David is still playing at a high enough level to deserve a nice contract here even at 31 years old.

Horse
4 months ago

Well, it wouldn’t surprise me. He’s got a Ring; why not go for the money.

FLBoy84
Reply to  Horse
4 months ago

No taxes, great year-round weather, FINALLY playing on a winning team that still has a 2-3yr SB window, being comfortable in/knowing the D scheme (and not having to learn a new one with new teammates). He may bolt, but as CG said, there’s a lot to be said for being comfortable and happy, even if it means maybe giving up a little $$.

Horse
Reply to  FLBoy84
4 months ago

Good points; lets hope it happens; after all, family and future security shouldn’t override the Fans wants & needs, right? Seriously, the Bucs will pay him for his value and quality of consistent playing. He well deserves it over all our Free Agents as he is “The forgotten Linebacker”.

FLBoy84
4 months ago

Sounds like Good Morning Football, who were rambling earlier this week about the Bucs losing practically all of their FA’s, even predicting Shaq signing with the Saints (while completely ignoring the fact they’re $60M over the cap presently). Just find it sad that so many in the media nowadays make such a plethora of mindless, ignorant takes just for the sake of getting a headline. It’s an issue that’s becoming far too common in the sports/news/journalism fields worldwide unfortunately.

Last edited 4 months ago by FLBoy84
drdneast
Reply to  FLBoy84
4 months ago

I also heard Cam Jordan the Saints were going to sign Russell Wilson. That’s why Jrrdan is a DE and not a GM. If the Saints actually ever did sign Wilson, Jordan would probably be watching him from the Meadowlands because the Saints wouldn’t be able to afford him. Hell, they can’t even afford Trey Hendrickson who had more sacks than Jordan last season.

FLBoy84
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Exactly. No question the Saints will likely have no issue getting their $$ in order by kicking the can down the road, as is their custom, but they’re not going to be loading up on high-priced FA’s like teams with actual cap space may do.

drdneast
4 months ago

I like David, who doesn’t, he is rock steady in all phases of the game but that is also his weakest point. Other than the sack he got in DC in the playoffs to pretty much close out the game, i can’t remember the last splash play David had. Ok, I just remembered, he INT’d a Matt Ryan pass like six years ago to close that game out. David is a rock steady tackler but he is only good in coverage, not great. He’s more likely to cause turnovers tackling than intercepting. His sack totals, except for one year, are… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

You don’t look for high Sack totals from your MLB. White had 9 last year which is an anomaly but that’s because David can actually cover and White is better moving in. If you watch Jons breakdowns you’ll see all kinds of great plays David makes that doesn’t necessarily end up on the stat sheet. David is a rare coverage LB and makes all the difference on this Defense in making it a solid 3 phase group and not making the TEs and RBs the go to routes to gash us up the middle. David needs to stay until White… Read more »

Spitfire
4 months ago

There’s no way they let David walk unless he really is looking to be like Barrett and try to get some ridiculous amount like $20mil.

They need to make sure they keep David, Godwin Succop, Suh and Gronk. If Barrett wants to stay great, if not they need to find his replacement. But David needs to stay. He will be about done as White needs a 2nd contract and then they can find his replacement.

BucHarbour
4 months ago

Personally, I think Garafalo is talking out is anal sphincter. I don’t think there’s really any chance that David leaves. The Bucs can re-sign all of their FA’s if they want, but I think they’ll let Fournette go and I think Barrett will come down to just how much “bank” he wants to get. Once he sees most teams don’t have the cap space to throw Benjamins at him, I think he’ll settle for very good, but not outrageous money. The rest of our FA’s aren’t going anywhere, IMHO.

Runole
Reply to  BucHarbour
4 months ago

amen Fake news by a talking head I have never heard of? This is the off season where reality seldom exists. It appears the talking heads are still angry over the Bucs winning the Super Bowl over the beloved Chiefs.

The Wall
4 months ago

Salary cap or no salary cap We need to sign Lavonte David- whatever it takes!

fl0nase
4 months ago

Yeah, don’t underestimate the power of no taxes and great weather. The FL tax free situation IS exactly like making an extra million or two. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been cap crunched with a dominant team for years and the have never failed to re-sign a free agent of significance and I think these factors have a lot to do with it.

Tyler21
4 months ago

i honestly think we should essentially match any offer he gets if he’s serious about leaving, he’s done too much for this franchise to let him walk now