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2023 Player Spotlight: Lavonte David

Is Tampa's legendary linebacker heading into his final season as a Buccaneer?

NFL: SEP 18 Buccaneers at Saints Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the more impressive moves Tampa Bay made this offseason was getting linebacker Lavonte David back in the fold for another year. The offseason, for Lavonte David, started with drama and controversy. David was a free agent and general manager Jason Licht sent Bucs fandom into a craze when he stepped to the mic at the NFL Combine. Licht was asked about all things Bucs, among the topics for discussion— Buccaneers team captain, Lavonte David.

With over 1,300 career tackles, David has been the model athlete for Tampa Bay since being drafted out of Nebraska in 2012. The former Cornhusker has been a star in the red and pewter, undoubtedly heading for a Ring of Honor induction in the coming years. At the time of Jason Licht’s presser, David was 33 years old, far from young for an NFL player. His age, combined with his ever steady production, created an odd dynamic.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

According to the calculations of many, Tampa Bay doesn’t plan on competing for a championship this year. With that being the case, questions poured in regarding the logic of resigning an aging player to a sizable deal for a franchise that’s not ready to win.

Jason Licht sprinkled gas on that fire when his combine interview offered some interesting quotes—

“[Lavonte David] is one of the iconic [Bucs] players... He will always be a Buccaneer and it is still not out of the realm of possibility that he could be playing for us next year.

“It takes two to agree… Would love to see Lavonte continue to play as a Buc.”

Licht’s noncommittal nature when discussing one of his star players was slightly jarring. David may be an aging athlete, but his production hasn’t slipped in the slightest, he’s still one of the team’s best players.

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Licht’s commentary was quickly swept up in the Tampa Bay breeze after the Buccaneers, once again, re-signed their star defender— one year, seven million dollars.

That means David is in another contract year. For comparison, in his last contract year (2022), he tallied his most tackles since 2019 and recorded his most sacks since 2018. In 2023, David will be a year older but there is no reason to anticipate him being a year slower. The Buccaneers 2012 second-round pick has carried himself, on and off the field, as a perfect Buccaneer throughout his entire career. David has shown himself to be very comfortable operating in a Todd Bowles defensive scheme. Playing with many familiar names and faces, by all accounts 2023 will be another year of high-level play.

With just a one-year commitment and at least mild disagreement getting to that commitment, will 2023 be the last season Bucs fans get to cheer for LD54?

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