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FAB 1. Bucs Plan To Extend David’s Contract

On Sunday when Bucs linebacker Lavonte David lines up against Atlanta, he will have his 121st career start in Tampa Bay, which ranks ninth in Bucs history – just two starts behind former teammate Gerald McCoy (123). If David starts all 16 games next season he’ll have 137 in red and pewter, surpassing Warren Sapp (130) and John Lynch (132) and will be tied with Mike Alstott with 137 career starts, which will rank fifth in franchise history.

In 2020, David will turn 30 on January 23, and will enter the final year of his contract in Tampa Bay where he has spent all eight years of his spectacular NFL career. Here is some breaking news – 2020 won’t be David’s last season with the Bucs, as the team is expected to enter contract extension talks this offseason.

In the waning days of 2019, the NFL finally recognized David’s greatness, naming him to the All-Decade team at the linebacker position despite his annual snubbing by the Pro Bowl. In his illustrious career, David has been to the Pro Bowl just once (2015) and has been named an All-Pro only twice (2013, 2016).

The Bucs have recognized David’s greatness all along, especially general manager Jason Licht, who made re-signing the team’s second-round pick in 2012 a top priority once he took over the franchise. On August 11, 2015, David was awarded a five-year, $50.5-million contract extension that averaged $10.25 million per season.

Licht, head coach Bruce Arians and director of football administration Mike Greenberg have a lot of top personnel decisions to make this offseason, including re-signing pass rushers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, and perhaps defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, in addition to figuring out whether to use the franchise tag on quarterback Jameis Winston or offer him a multi-year contract extension.

But extending the contract of David is among the team’s top priorities.

And despite never playing on a playoff team in his eight years in the NFL, David doesn’t want to go anywhere else. He wants to stay in Tampa Bay to help right the ship and finally get it sailing towards the postseason.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David
Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“It would mean a lot because growing up I never imagined myself in this position,” David said of his interest in a possible contract extension. “Getting drafted here and knowing that hardly nobody stays with a team for a long time, it’s rare that it happens. It would be a blessing – an absolute blessing. To have that Tampa Bay logo on my helmet and going balls to the wall for the Tampa Bay organization, it would be a blessing. I can’t take this situation for granted. Every day I take it one day at a time and do my best to represent the Bucs the best that I can.”

Once again, David is having a great season and is leading the team in tackles with 116 stops. And once again, David has been snubbed for the Pro Bowl despite having some better stats than a well-known player in Luke Kuechly, who seemed to get the honor this year based more on reputation than impact.

Carolina ILB Luke Kuechly – 2019 Stats
137 tackles (76 solo)
0 sacks
0 forced fumbles
0 fumble recoveries
2 INTs
11 PBUs

Tampa Bay ILB Lavonte David – 2019 Stats
116 tackles (77 solo)
1 sack
3 forced fumbles
1 fumble recovery
1 INT
6 PBUs

David also got cheated out of another forced fumble and recovered fumble in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to Houston when officials prematurely whistled a play dead. Still, David did force another fumble in that game, the third of the year and the 21st of his career, which is second in Tampa Bay history only to Lee Roy Selmon’s 28.5 forced fumbles.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David
Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With his first two stops against Atlanta on Sunday, David will reach 1,000 career tackles, which is a feat that has been only accomplished by three other Buccaneers in team history – Hardy Nickerson (1,028), Ronde Barber (1,428) and Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks (2,198). David recently surpassed John Lynch (973) and Shelton Quarles (985) for fourth place on the list of the franchise tackles record.

Despite the fact that he’ll be turning 30 in less than a month, David shows no signs of slowing down and the team wants him here for the long haul.

“He’s one of my favorite players,” Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “I think he’s a complete football player. He plays the run very well. He plays the pass very well. He can blitz. He can play zone. He can play man. He’s very intelligent – he has a lot of football savvy and he understands the game, and that’s priceless. I think Devin [White] has learned a lot from him in that aspect of the game and the team in general on defense he’s one of the leaders over there and I can’t say enough about him.”

David, a long-time team captain has been more vocal over the last few years and really stepped up at halftime in the locker room in Tampa Bay’s 38-35 come-from-behind victory over Indianapolis when the team was trailing 27-21. David’s fiery speech helped rally the Bucs for a win that got the team to a 7-7 record after a 2-6 start to the season.

“He is our vocal leader,” Bowles said. “He is one of them – he speaks up all the time. It’s not just when things aren’t going right. He speaks up when they’re going right. He comes to play every time, he holds everyone accountable and like I said, he is one of our leaders.”

David is currently the second-longest tenured player in Tampa Bay behind only right tackle Demar Dotson, an 11-year pro. Dotson has seen David develop into the great player that he is today and thinks it would be foolish for the team not to extend his contract past 2020.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David and DT Vita Vea
Bucs ILB Lavonte David and DT Vita Vea – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Lavonte is the cornerstone of this defense,” Dotson said. “He plays with great passion and I think he should go down as one of the great Bucs that have ever played this game with Sapp, Brooks, Lynch, and Ronde and guys like that. His play speaks for itself, and the way he comes to practice and prepares and then he gets snubbed by the Pro Bowl every year … he definitely should have made the Pro Bowl this year.

“I think the guy’s legacy on the field speaks for itself. I think he retires as a Buc, and I think it would be crazy for the Bucs to let him go due to the passion and leadership he brings, especially to the young guys like Devin White.”

Veteran Bucs inside linebacker Kevin Minter has played in Bowles system for years dating back to 2013 when he was drafted in the second round by Arizona. He’s marveled at how quickly David has picked up the scheme and fit in so well.

“I’ve been watching Lavonte since college,” Minter said. “I was getting recruited by Nebraska and the guys in Lincoln said they wanted me to play with Lavonte. He’s tremendous. He’s a legend – as a player and a person. He has a great grasp of this defense, but he’s really getting it now. He’s going to do nothing but ascend in this defense. Just look how he played in his first year in it – and the leadership he provides for us is outstanding. He’s not just a leader by example or a vocal leader. He’s both. He deserves that C on his chest for sure.”

While the Bucs’ high-scoring offense has led the way in Tampa Bay through most of the season, Dotson has seen the improvement on the defensive side of the ball down the stretch, and knows that David’s leadership is a big reason why.

Bucs LB Lavonte David
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

“That defense, especially against the run, has been phenomenal all year,” Dotson said. “Now you can see, as they year goes on, they’re playing better, especially in the secondary. They started the year crazy against the run, but they struggled in the secondary. Now they fixed it and those guys are playing better. Lavonte is a big reason for that. He’s the leader of the defense, and in some ways he’s the leader of this football team. I don’t know if he’ll get a contract extension after next year or this year coming up, but he definitely deserves it. He definitely deserves to retire as a Buc with a contract extension. We’ll see.”

There have only been a limited number of the Bucs’ greats that have been able to play their entire NFL career in Tampa Bay – Brooks, Barber and Alstott are among the few.

“Those are guys that I know and guys that I look up to,” David said. “Guys that meant a lot to this organization not only as football players, but as men. The main thing is winning and I have to get to that level and win. Unfortunately we didn’t win enough this year, but our goal next year is to come back and win every game that we play. I would die to make the playoffs. I want to make it so bad. I know we can do it with a better start, but it really all starts on Day 1 of OTAs – our voluntary on-field activities next year.”

David made $9.75 million in 2019 and is slated to make $10.75 million next year. The Bucs’ 2020 salary cap situation could be eased by reducing David’s cap hit next year by several million dollars in exchange for more guaranteed money in a new, lucrative contract extension. David has always been a team player and would gladly do his part to keep the Bucs’ up-and-coming defense together.

“This is definitely the best front seven I’ve played with since I’ve been here,” David said. “We have some veteran guys that understand the scheme and understand what Coach Bowles is trying to do and then going out and executing it. We definitely take pride in it. I hope we can keep it all together for next year because we can do great things. You’re seeing it now.

Bucs LB Lavonte David
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

“What keeps me young is my love for the game to be honest with you – my love for the game and getting the opportunity to continue to play the game that I love. It’s all for the guys in the locker room and the name on my jersey, this organization and this city. That’s what I give week in and week out.”

It’s time for Tampa Bay’s front office and ownership to show Lavonte David the love and sign him to a contract extension that will allow him to retire as a Buccaneer.

A Buccaneer legend.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Dman

Good Fab Five heading into our final week of the season. I like resigning Lavonte and Dot – both solid Bucs. While Lavonte is still playing at a Pro Bowl level, I think Dot can help young guys and provide depth. The salaries for the current O line are pretty crazy. If that’s the going rate, well, I guess it is what it is. But not sure we’re getting our $$$’s worth.

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seat26

Sign him. One of the best ever. Consistent every year.

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fredster

Licht was smart to let Kwon walk and keep David.

As far as Dot goes man I just don’t see keeping him unless it’s real cheap as back up. He’s never been great run blocker and now he’s older doesn’t see to be able to at all. He’s so tall hard to get her leverage I think. Seemed to have lot penalties this year too but don’t know the amount haven’t looked it up.

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toofamiliar17

Godwin has been awesome this year, but him over Vincent Jackson on the all-decade team? Please tell me that was an oversight rather than an intentional choice. Has to be.

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BucRy

Nice article and a fun list to put together. Your piece about white makes me so excited about his future. Honestly believe he has the chance to become a premiere linebacker in the league which is only going to help us. It’s been an up and down year, but we have a lot to be excited about.

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Bucsfan1983

Absolutely not. No way. No please no. Dotson should not get a contract extension. It’s time to draft a LT and move D Smith to RT. This will now be the third consecutive draft, that I have been begging for Licht to draft a LT early in the draft. This year it must be in round 1. Improving Winston’s O Line should be a top priority after re-signing Shaq, JPP and Winston. Drafting a LT and moving D Smith to RT upgrades both tackle spots. My first 4 picks for the Bucs would be, 1) LT Tristan Wirfs – move… Read more »

Pete Wood

Why would we use a third on a receiver? We have at least six who could start.

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Bucsfan1983

Evans, Godwin, Perriman, Watson and Miller. That’s 5. Because what happens if both Evans and Godwin get injured earlier in the season? Survive with Perriman, Watson and Miller? There’s plenty of mocks with WR to the Bucs in 3rd or 4th round.

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BigSombrero

@Bucsfan1983 You would draft a RT in round 1 and move him to LT? Then you would take your highly paid LT and make him a RT? Just my opinion but plot twists are not needed on this line. If the Bucs take Wirfs, he better be the new RT on day 1. Just as pressing a need is RB. Barber is a free agent. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is explosive, gritty, small and shifty. He dominated Alabama. You think he will be available in the 4th? I think he will be drafted in the 2nd. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00… Read more »

Bucsfan1983

Wirfs can play either tackle position. He plays RT for Iowa, but most project him at LT in the NFL.

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BigSombrero

I just watched two games with Wirfs. He isn’t very good. He gets beat regularly. Here is the Mississippi State game. He is #74.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCHvJ0l0kjI&t=119s

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Bucsfan1983

Yeah I believe you and two games over all the experts that have him as the 2nd or 3rd OT drafted in round 1.

Rolls eyes

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Bucsfan1983

To your Wirfs isn’t very good opinion, here’s thoughts on him from a well respected mock draft.

Wirfs is rock solid and ready to come into the NFL as a starter at multiple positions. He moves well enough to make the transition from college RT to NFL LT. Many teams see him as a franchise LT and he has the size to stay there. (6’5″ 320)

But yeah lets go with your he isn’t very good, based on the two games you saw theory.

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GrayBalls

LT and RT are two TOTALLY different positions. I am on board completely with the idea of going OT in RD 1, unless Jonathan Taylor falls to us. If that happens, he should, without a doubt, should be the number one selection, followed by a best OL available with our pick in the second. Same for RD 3, maybe 4. If we draft an interior lineman in the 2nd, work him at RG and slide Cappa to RT. If OT, train him at RT and have him compete with Big Dot. The thought process behind moving Smith to the right… Read more »

BigSombrero

Remember jonah williams, andre dillard, tytus howard, and jawaan taylor from last year? What did the “experts” say about those guys and how the Bucs had to draft them at 5? Lol. All 4 sucked in 2019.

My eyeballs work. I suggest you use yours.

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BigSombrero

Here is a first mock from a team of experts since you’re into that. Not saying I told you so, but…

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/nfl-mock-draft-2020-dolphins-panthers-bengals-cowboys-raiders-redskins-lions/4hf53r8awx571nr4v1xr4k4cp

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BBBBucx

We absolutely need to re-sign LaVonte David. Can be a part of an all-time great interior defense with Devin White for a few more seasons.
But man, stop it! Dotson is done. Look around the league and see the Tackles — we need to draft guys like that now!! The game is too quick and too fast (there is a difference) for Dotson now.
Ramczyck, Tunsil, Taylor, Stanley, McGlinchey – those boys move and look like dancing bears compared to swinging gate Dotson.
Go Bucx

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e

As the second youngest team in the league, they would be wise to lock up the veteran leaders at a fair price. Re-sign Jameis to a long term deal, spread the money to be able to hold on to some of our DL leaders.

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swashbuckler2002

Resign Jameis to a long term deal? Why?

I can understand using the tag on him for one year and seeing how he progresses in year 2 in BA’s system, but a long term deal after a 30 int year (plus what, 8 fumbles)? I don’t know how you’d expect to to win with that.

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Horse

Very good fab five Scott and a Happy New year to you. I 100% agree with you about Dotson and I don’t understand why some are not willing to give him an extra year. He’s been a vital steady reliable right tackle for years. He has played three of the five offensive line positions in his career so he is worth his weight in gold as a backup. I agree the first round should be an offensive lineman and probably a running back next then a QB because we need to have some competition for Wednesday if they decide to… Read more »

AlbJack65

My thought was to use O.J. Howard in a trade to move up a few spots in the 1st round to acquire one of the top tier OL. The team we traded with would have him for a relatively inexpensive cap number and not on the hook for 2020 if he doesn’t pan out. Possibly Arizona, maybe even Jax if we threw in a 5th rounder on the deal.

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Horse

Winston not Wednesday.

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scubog

And here I thought you were bringing in Pugsley to play center.

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Captain Sly

Loved the fab 5 Scott, but I’m going to agree with most on here about Dot. He’s been a trooper for us though but as a front office you have to know when its time to move on and it’s time. Dot has lost all lateral movement and that’s not good with speed off the edge. I can’t get those images out of my head of Shaq Barrett & Noah Spence in camp using the speed rush and the bull rush to punish Dotson in the heat this past summer. I didn’t think he would make the 53 back then… Read more »

awwdembucs

Well keeping Dotson, does this mean not drafting an O linemen until the 4th or 5th round?

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martinii

Good Fab 5 Scott. Agree on Lavonte but have mixed feelings on Dotson. We need a long term fix on Oline. I’m with you Horse, really disappointed with Howard. Thought he would be a real Red Zone threat and a major contributor.
Not sure team would give up a 2nd rd pick for him. I think like most the big issues today are maintaining defensive progress and what to do with Winston.

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CrackerBall

Extend Lavonte David – yes, but why bring RT Demar Dotson back? Despite all the niceties said – his play is slipping and a younger, healthier and better OT can be had in the Draft for pennies on the dollar. Thanks for your service here – but no thanks.

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swashbuckler2002

Amazingly he has a higher PF grade than one of the highest paid LTs in the league on his opposite side. I wouldn’t want him as a starter, but as depth and leadership for the rookie we draft? Sure.

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Allanh1

Not gonna sound like a parrot with David and Dot. Because the feelings are pretty much unanimous. 54 will be in the ring of honor one day,unlike GMac.

Seeing this man stay a Buc with so many core pieces coming back I feel like history will repeat itself SOON,man, it really has this feeling to it!

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Horse

It sounds like Goodwin is not going to be able to play, nor would I chance it if I am the coach. I got to believe he’s going to go on IR so we can bring one more practice squad guy up before the game.
Go Bucs, let’s beat Atlanta!

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Pick6

it’s just tragic that he’s been part of so many collectively poor defensive seasons. although he had some productive stretches, i can’t help but feel that between lovie smith and mike smith 5 years of his peak ability were basically flushed down the toilet. he should have been attacking the line of scrimmage relentlessly, and instead both those guys had him sitting back and fighting his instincts. putting him with a coach like Bowles late in his career could be a legacy rebuilder. Bucs fans love him but he deserves respect in wider circles. Kuechly has been on his fair… Read more »

scubog

Always enjoy reading the Fab Five each Saturday morning before heading off to Publix. Got to get some Falcon wings for Sunday. Of course Lavonte needs to remain a Buccaneer for as long as he plays. Best LB in Bucs history not named Mr. Derrick Brooks. My take on Demar is to keep him on the team, to at least compete, until a suitable replacement is found. Cappa is a guard, so moving him is not an option. Releasing Dot prior to the end of Training Camp would be akin to breaking up with your girlfriend before securing another date… Read more »

surferdudes

For an offensive line to be a cohesive unit it would be nice to have five guys who can practice every day together. Dotson is getting two senior days off a week now, what’s he going to need next year? Please, it’s time, if you’re going to draft his replacement high, that player would need to play. David isn’t going anywhere next year, and his contract is very cap friendly for a player of his caliber. It doesn’t make sense to extent him now just to save a couple of million in cap space. We have to many FA’s, and… Read more »

Horse

I think Scott said to sign Datsun for one year.

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