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Buccaneer Great Lavonte David Stays Home with New Deal

Lavonte David signed a one-year deal with the Bucs on Thursday, extending the linebacker's career in Tampa, where he has already placed himself among the franchise's legends


Lavonte David is still a Buccaneer. He may be one for life.

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially signed David, one of the NFL's best off-ball linebackers, to a new one-year deal. David has played 11 seasons for Tampa Bay since being drafted in the second round in 2012.

David is already one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. Now the possibility remains that he will join the ranks of such all-time Buccaneer greats as Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and Paul Gruber, all of whom played their entire NFL careers in Tampa.

"Lavonte is one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of this franchise, so it is extremely gratifying that he will remain a Buccaneer," said General Manager Jason Licht. "It's rare for a player to perform at such a high level for so many years in one place. Lavonte has made a big impact on and off the field for our organization and is still critical to our success on defense."

Since arriving in Tampa as a second-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2012, David has played in and started 166 regular-season games. He ranks fourth in franchise history in starts – behind only Barber, Brooks and Gruber – and fifth in games played. David's 1,346 career tackles are also third in team annals, behind only Brooks and Barber. He also ranks 10th in franchise history with 29.0 sacks, the most by any off-ball linebacker.

The Buccaneers didn't bring David back for a victory lap; he continued to play at a very high level in 2022, even in his age 32 season. David tied for the team lead with 124 tackles and added 3.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, three QB hits, five passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. As usual, he ranked as one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. According to Next Gen Stats, he recorded an EPA of -13.7 when targed as the nearest defender, the sixth-best mark among all linebackers in the league. Since Next Gen Stats began compiling data in 2016, David has allowed 5.9 yards per target as the nearest defender, the second lowest average among all NFL linebackers in that span.

In all, David has amassed 1,346 tackles, 29.0 sacks, 143 tackles for loss, 62 quarterback hits, 12 interceptions, 59 passes defensed, 27 forced fumbles and 18 fumble recoveries. Since he entered the league in 2012, he ranks first among all players in opponent fumble recoveries, tied for third in forced fumbles and fifth in tackles for loss. In the latter two categories, the only players ranked above him are front-line pass-rushers.

David won first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors in 2013 after a five-interception, seven-sack season and he earned his lone Pro Bowl berth in 2015. Though he has ranked as one of the NFL's most underrated players throughout his career, and remains so in 2023, he is held in extremely high esteem in Tampa and within the Buccaneers organization. That he will continue to be a Buccaneer going forward is a cause for celebration.

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