FAB 3. David Will Be A Buccaneer For Years To Come

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times asked a rhetorical question – will an aging Lavonte David suffer the same fate as Gerald McCoy in Tampa Bay? Will David’s high salary – $10.75 million in 2020 – make him expendable for a team that might need to reallocate that salary cap space elsewhere?

No one has a crystal ball. While we could see McCoy’s offseason departure coming late last year, no one could see Jason Pierre-Paul, the team’s leading sacker in 2018, getting into a car accident and suffering a possible career-threatening neck injury.

Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David must contain Arizona RB David Johnson. - Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

So it’s hard to tell exactly what the future holds for David, who turned 29 in January, other than to note that in the 2020 season he will be in a contract year unless an extension is done prior to that.

But given his extraordinarily high level of play, it seems safe to suggest that David will be a Buccaneer for years to come as long as he doesn’t lose his trademark speed and quickness anytime soon. If I had to place a bet, I’m wagering that David, who is set to earn $9.75 million this season, gets a contract extension either next year or after the 2020 campaign.

While Tampa Bay is already high on inside linebacker Devin White, the team’s first-round pick, the Bucs will need two very good linebackers to play in nickel defense, which the team will be in at least 65 percent of the time, especially in the pass-happy NFC South division. David hasn’t gotten the national acclaim his Bucs career deserves – likely due to zero playoff appearances in his eight seasons in Tampa Bay.

David has made just one Pro Bowl (2015) and was has been named to the All-Pro team twice – as a first-team linebacker in 2013 and a second-team linebacker in 2016. Former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was the headliner in Tampa Bay with his six straight Pro Bowl appearances, but one could certainly argue that David was actually the Bucs’ best defensive player over the last seven seasons given his playmaking ability.

In fact, David’s career stats rival – or perhaps even trump – those of Bucs Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks when comparing the players’ first seven seasons.

Lavonte David’s Stats 2012-18

18 FFs
13 FRs
21.5 sacks
10 INTs
3 TDs
1 safety
884 tackles

Derrick Brooks’ Stats 1995-2001

14 FFs
3 FRs
5.5 sacks
12 INTs
1 TD
927 tackles

Brooks proved to be more durable, and played in five more games than David has during his first seven years in the league. That gives Brooks a slight edge in tackles (43) and interceptions (two), but David has forced more fumbles (four), recovered more fumbles (10), scored two more touchdowns and recorded one more safety.

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

Yet David is the only player in NFL history to record at least 450 tackles, at least 15 sacks and at least 10 interceptions in his first five seasons.

According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, David is one of only six NFL players in league history to post at least 15 sacks and 10 interceptions in his first five seasons and the latest to do so since William Thomas (1991-95).

Keep in mind that Brooks’ best season came in 2002 at age 29 when he had 117 tackles, a career-high five interceptions, including three pick-sixes, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown and one sack. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors that year while leading Tampa Bay to a franchise-best 12-4 record and a Super Bowl victory, and added another pick-six in Super Bowl XXXVII.

David is now 29, and like Brooks nearly two decades ago, he shows no signs of slowing down. Brooks wound up playing in Tampa Bay for seven more years until the age of 35, making six more Pro Bowls from 2002-06 and in 2008, along with All-Pro honors in 2002 and 2004-05.

It was the sustained excellence that made Brooks truly great. If David can stay healthy he can have a career similar to that of Brooks in terms of production. The accolades will come if David can help Tampa Bay get to the postseason.

What helps is that new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is a big fan of David.

“He’s got a resume and a really good one – almost a Hall of Fame one,” Arians said. “He’s a very quiet leader. You like those kind of guys, because you just follow them. You don’t have to hear them, you just follow them.”

Arians doesn’t mind having older linebackers around as long as they can play. Karlos Dansby played inside linebacker for Arians at age 32 in 2013, and again at age 36 in 2017. Outside linebacker John Abraham was signed at age 35 in 2013. Inside linebacker Larry Foote was signed to play the 2014 season in Arizona at age 34.

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles plans to use David the way that former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano did when David recorded 145 tackles, seven sacks, five interceptions and one safety in 2013. Although he had five forced fumbles and five interceptions under Mike Smith in 2017, David did not having a sack or an interception that year. David was used as a blitzer more often last season, recording 3.5 sacks when Mark Duffner took over as defensive coordinator.

If he can continue to be a playmaker in Bowles’ scheme as expected and get to the quarterback more often on blitzes, David can not only rack up more personal accolades, but also earn another contract extension. I’m not betting against David. Are you?

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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: [email protected]
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Alldaway 2.0

What people don’t realize about Suh is that he is a very cerebral player and he can make adjustments on the fly if a defensive play doesn’t go according to plan. Simply put Suh is a pure football player that you can line up anywhere on the line as a mismatch piece. Whether it is a 3 technique, nose tackle, 5 technique or even as a wide 9 LEO Suh will rush the passer or find the ball carrier. He has the quickness and strength to beat 1 on 1 blocks. But Suh’s patience and intelligence has not been reported… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

I do not know very much about Suh on paper he is good D Lineman which is needed alot without JPP and McCoy.
I just ask why no one else wanted him what do they know that Bucs don’t?
I can not make educated comment because I do not know the answer.

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chetthevette

Your last sentence sums up most of your posts. But we are all impressed that you are making an attempt at constructing them.
GO BUCS

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Captain Sly

Scott, I appreciate you always putting a positive spin on things but Suh was always and I mean always the back up plan. They could have signed Suh right after the Super Bowl but decided to wait on Mccoy all the way til the end of May before making this move. So no this was not always the plan but it could very well work to be good for us considering the $$ factor. Let’s just hope as Bucs fans that Suh shows up “hungry” and eager to lead this young crop of talent that’s here and turn this ship… Read more »

SenileSenior

Scott

Another good article. I will hold off my further comments for awhile. I’ll digest yours.

Except for this one. The injury to Perriman just might open the door a little further for Scotty Miller. He is much smaller but also has blazing speed. He has already shown he has great hands according to reports. He had better jump on this opportunity.
_________
Go Bucs!!!

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Captain Sly

I enjoyed going down memory lane with the Hardy Nickerson comparison you’re right about him. He was the first Buccaneers in Nike commercials shown ripping the face mask off of running backs and shown trying to knock the chest off Wideouts. No doubt Brooks and Lynch benefited from him because he brought the heat every Sunday.

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twspin

I hope you are right for our sake here Scott. But Suh plays for Suh. Always has..always will. Trust me, after the one yr deal. Buc fans are want to throw this guy to the wolves. Yes, he will flash and play good in spurts.
He’s not consistent..well he is..in penalties! We will see here shortly.But don’t expect sacks from this guy. He is a run stuffer though. I’m still not sure we gained a lot with him. Only time will tell.

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plopes808

He’s got more sacks than GMC in their respective careers, he’s also played more games, snaps, and has more tackles. At a $3 million discount, I’d say we walked away winners in this deal

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BigSombrero

A couple of thoughts on why Suh landed in Tampa Suh wasn’t picked up by other teams because: 1. He’s 32. 2. Expensive short term solution. His compensation was 3x a 1st round draft pick last year. 3. There was a ton of talent in a deep d-line draft this year. 4. Some think he started too slow last season and they were waiting for his price to drop. and/or maybe… 5. He didn’t want them. HE chose Tampa because HE wanted to play for Bowles in Tampa. If his market was set at $10 million, why not play in… Read more »

seat26

Excellent Pick up even if it is only for one year.

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BigSombrero

@twspin Penalties is an interesting comparison. In 2018… McCoy played 14 games and had 4 penalties accepted for 30 yards and 3 out of 4 occured at home. Roughing the Passer(1), Illegal Use of Hands(1), Neutral Zone Violation(1), Defensive Offsides(1) Suh played in 19 games(including playoffs) and had 6 penalties accepted(1 declined) for 53 yards and only 1 out of 7 occured at home. Roughing the Passer(2), Neutral Zone(3), Defensive Holding(2) So the difference is 2 penalties for 23 yards, but the guy played in 5 more games than McCoy. http://www.nflpenalties.com/player/n-suh-los-angeles-rams?year=2018 Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

BigSombrero

@twspin Penalties is an interesting comparison. In 2018… McCoy played 14 games and had 4 penalties accepted for 30 yards and 3 out of 4 occured at home. Roughing the Passer(1), Illegal Use of Hands(1), Neutral Zone Violation(1), Defensive Offsides(1) Suh played in 19 games(including playoffs) and had 6 penalties accepted(1 declined) for 53 yards and only 1 out of 7 occured at home. Roughing the Passer(2), Neutral Zone(3), Defensive Holding(2) So the difference is 2 penalties for 23 yards, but the guy played in 5 more games than McCoy. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

plopes808

I haven’t watched him closely but it seems like Suh is one of those guys who’s reputation may be overblown. He does have a few blatant penalties for stomping QBs and such, but I think BA will keep him in check. He’s much more Sapp than GMC will ever be as far as playing style.

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Spitfire

Suh / Vea / Nelson Nassib / David / White / Barrett Our Front 7 may not have a ton of Depth but the Suh addition really does look like an upgrade and solidified our front. The cheap shots from Suh always turned me off of him but it seems he’s improved in that area since then and watching tape of him even last year and he is still as fast as ever and quick and still plays hard. I’m excited to see what he can still do. I feel like we have the right staff to handle someone like… Read more »

BigSombrero

My favorite Buc for the last 7 years has been #54. I am stunned every year when he turns in another massive season, only to be snubbed by All-Pro and Pro Bowl voters. I love hearing the Bucs finally plan on using him like Schiano did. That was a great season for David, even with the few boneheaded mistakes(DONT HIT GENO GOING OUT OF BOUNDS!!)

Hopefully it leads to some really big plays, big wins and some well deserved recognition finally!

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BucFan circa76

Good feedback on penalty history of Suh/McCoy by BigSombrero. Surprisingly close, as were many of their defensive stats. That’s where the similarities end. Suh will not be apologizing to QB’s and/or helping them up after a knockdown, to me that’s a big plus in the Suh column. I like the one year deal, he will be motivated to earn another big contract in 2020, either here or elsewhere. I applauded Licht for locking McCoy up in 2014 for a long term deal, but I wonder if GMC would have had a more productive 2018 season if it had been a… Read more »

buclover1988

9.5 million is a lot better than paying 13.5 million. A 4 million dollar difference. I’ll take my chances with suh. No risk it no biscuit right? As for David, the pro bowl should no longer be an indicator of hof status, especially for someone whose the nfls most snubed player. David still looks like the player Tampa drafted out of Nebraska and plays at an all Pro level week in and week ouy, season after season. When it’s all said and done, I expect David to be in our ring of fame and if he continues to produce the… Read more »

scubog

The logic of Buc Ass Bob is truly comical. “Why no one else wanted him (Suh)?” Really? I suppose the same reasoning could be applied to all potential draftees who were still available. Why did no one select Sapp or Brooks in 1995 until those Bucs did? When GMC ultimately signs with another team, I suppose their fans could dispel the acquisition and ask why even the lowly Bucs didn’t want him. I suppose if you are thinking about marrying a woman, to whom no one else proposed, you should reconsider. Perhaps this has been in the works for longer… Read more »

nitey

While changing out McCoy for Suh appears to be a money move, I think that McCoy just didn’t fit into what Bowles wants to do on defense. Suh is very good against the run and I believe that Vea also showed similar traits late last season. To me, it looks like we are going to play to contain the run and let the linebackers be the disruptive players off the edge and via the blitz. In this scheme, McCoy, whom doesn’t play the run as good as Suh and is more of a pass rusher isn’t as good a fit.… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

I can’t help it I have to ask this question are 31 NFL teams wrong and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the pewter boys correct no other team was interested at any price in Bruce Arians or Suh Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t want Gerald McCoy but 10 other teams are jumping at him have to ask who’s right and who’s wrong 31 NFL teams for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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plopes808

I’m seriously questioning that there are 10 teams out there that even have the cap space to pickup GMC. 10 “interested” teams doesn’t necessarily mean there are 10 realistic landing spots.

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Buc stops here

“Of the two, Suh has always had the upper hand with the exception of one more Pro Bowl berth by McCoy during their NFL careers.” Uh, no. Last two years, who had more sacks, McCoy or Suh? You might be surprised to learn that McCoy had more. McCoy was credited with 6 each year, Suh, 4.5 each year. QB Hits? Suh had 19 last year and 12 the year before, McCoy had 24 and 21. They are both very good players, and both are in decline now and believe it or not, McCoy the last two years has outperformed Suh… Read more »

Buc stops here

Who is valued more in the NFL, McCoy or Suh? The answer is in the money – McCoy. The offers are already coming in for McCoy and are up to $11 million already. I really hope the Bucs know what they are doing going for primarily a run stopper now rather than a pass rusher.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/report-gerald-mccoy-drawing-interest-from-10-teams-offers-reaching-dollar11-million-a-year/ar-AABQbzs?li=BBnb7Kz

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chetthevette

2010 was really he first year that I followed the draft. That is directly related to Suh. I was definitely bummed that the lions snagged him.
That being said, he should be an upgrade over GMAC.
It will be an interesting season.
GO BUCS

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BucRy

Honestly, this far into the offseason with training camp just around the corner this move is worth the risk. he’s only on for a one year deal so might as well just use up some of that freed up cap space for a guy like him. It’s not like there were other big names left out on the street..if it doesn’t work out, we just simply move on.

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BucRy

We also don’t really know how McCoy would fair playing in the 3-4..Suh had that experience under his belt.

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bucballer

Hey Scott… “Suh plays like an island warrior”. How does an “island warrior” play? You mean like a savage? Poor analogy! You can/should do better than that Scott! I’m just saying…

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Captain Sly

I am pretty sure he was using that illustration to describe Vita Vea from the Samoan Islands

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a-bomb

The value here (aside from the actual money) is the versatility Suh brings. GMC really does one thing- he is a penetrating 3 tech. Suh can play multiple positions on the line and Bowles system is all about multiples- multiple fronts and multiple positions. The main problem with the system of Mike Smith (and Lovie Smith for that matter) is that the were amazingly predictable. In this league, if you don’t make the QB take an extra half second or so to process what you are doing you are going to be toast. This is what we saw the last… Read more »

Buc-Up

Yes, Lee Roy Selmon helped players up after plays like McCoy did. The difference was that Lee Roy was more tenacious when the ball was snapped. He fought through double and triple teams to get to the person with the ball. He was a gentle giant that struck fear into his opponents! I don’t remember Lee Roy going stat less in a game like McCoy has done numerous times. McCoy does deserve to eventually be in the Ring of Honor, but not before Hardy Nickerson, Simeon Rice and James Wilder. Personally, I don’t think the Bucs should reserve numbers unless… Read more »

Spitfire

Bucballer, taking the term Island Warrior and relating it to being a “Savage” is you’re prejudice not Scott’s or anyone else’s. When I think of an “Island Warrior” I think of a proud fighter that gives everything he has to fight for his people and his home.

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plopes808

As an “island warrior” myself I just wanted to say that I took no offense to the reference SR lol. I interpreted the reference as much more “Max Holloway” than “savage.”

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pinkstob

I don’t think Suh moves the needle in terms of wins and losses for this team so I don’t care much about switching McCoy for Suh. I do believe we overpaid for Suh as I said before he was only worth $7 million. As a reminder, I said we overpaid for Grimes last year also by several million dollars as soon as the deal was made.

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EastEndBoy

meh

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bucballer

Barring an injury… Suh will help this Buc defense! He adds some nastiness which had been lacking! Go Bucs!

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Captain Sly

As far as the W-L I’m going to agree with you there . Their career #’s are crazy similar and so its a matter of what flavor you crave Vanilla or Chocolate, but you’re still getting the same amount Ice Cream.

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plopes808

I agree somewhat…but what people are missing is that we have a new DC with a new scheme. Bowles’ scheme calls for run stopping D-Linemen rather than pass rushers. Pass rush come more from the blitz so in that sense, Suh is a better fit. When you factor in the attitude he brings, I’d say he’s a much better fit. Of course this is with the assumption that BA can reign him in just enough to avoid stupid penalties. I believe he will, or Suh will not be on the field. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

cgmaster27

Pink my dude, I think everyone in the room knew we overepaid for Grimes last year. That wasnt hard to see.

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BucFan circa76

Brent Grimes who?? He’s dead to me, and oh btw, still a free agent……imagine that?

Scott, thanks for the comparison on David’s first 7 seasons with those of HOF Derrick Brooks (my all-time fave Buc). Brooks became a HOF LB starting with his 8th season and onward. Hopefully David will get some playoff exposure and flourish in Bowles new aggressive defense scheme.

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owlykat

You will remember last year teams were aiming their RBs right at the hole where McCoy ran through trying to get to the QB and oblivious of the RB with the ball. It was rediculous. Suh will rush the QB with less of a get off and will take down the RB. Once we stop the run we will turn our rushing DEs and OLBs after the QB or use an occasional creative blitz. We will be able to ignore the handoff fakes to the RB.

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Ron Potter

Maybe it’s a little too easy to say that Suh “brings a needed edge” in light of McCoy’s lack of “edge” because of their personality differences but I do agree with it to an extent. I find McCoy to be lacking in his “desire to win” or in contrast, his “hate for losing” while here. This year was the first year GMC has attended a Super Bowl game and it’s being reported that McCoy is expressing a renewed vigor in order to get to that big game. Where was that McCoy while here? Why didn’t he ever attend a Super… Read more »

Bucnut2

The Suh Mccoy swap is a non event. The issue is that this team has little talent and is in salary cap hell. How anyone can defend Licht is totally beyond me. His drafts have sucked and his free agent moves are worse. Even a very talented coaching staff will not be able to turn this bunch of misfits into winners. 6 wins at best, tons of excuses about the schedule, a high draft pick and (hopefully) a new GM await us in 8 months. JW is part of the problem and needs to go. My preference is this; let’s… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

Bucanut got it 100% correct!!!!!

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Charlie

That video interview with Shelly is absolutely amazing, he’s gonna fight right into the community and we’re happy to have him! Go Bucs!

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BucFan circa76

Bucnut must be the illegitimate son of BucAssSlob (or perhaps husband of….). I thought for a moment it was the same person, but only one writes in English and with punctuation. That said, we are not in salary cap hell, and even if we were, Licht is not our “capologist”, Mike Greenburg is. The fact we could release GMC with 3 years remaining on his contract WITH NO DEAD CAP PENALTY is a testament to Greenburg for sure. Let’s not forget that we also cut Vinny Curry and traded DeSean Jackson WITH NO CAP PENALTY. Seems to me that our… Read more »

matador

When paying $10 mill for a 32 yr old DL with character issues instead of drafting a top 5 DL talent in a loaded draft goes down as a master stroke, it shows how much damage Licht’s cumulative mistakes have done. There is no logic based argument supporting his draft and FA record the last 6 yrs.

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BucFan circa76

Character issues?? Perhaps in his early days as a pro with the Lions…? At any rate, its been exhausting reading &/or hearing self-proclaimed “Bucs fans” dissect any & all negative aspects of McCoy’s nine-year career here. The most common was that he was too “soft”, too “nice” after plays were over, etc. Suh will never be accused of either, take it to the bank. The Bucs have hired the anti-GMC in Suh…..as long as he has McCoy’s work ethic and doesnt earn any game suspensions for stupidity, most fans will accept Suh’s “character issues” much like they did for Sapp,… Read more »