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?
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