Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David is expected to test free agency, according to multiple reports. One of the most productive linebackers in the league, David recorded 124 tackles and 3.0 sacks in 2022. He’s still playing at an extremely high level.
The Buccaneers remain nearly $48 million above the 2023 salary cap, per Spotrac, despite releasing Leonard Fournette and Donovan Smith. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht is unlikely to meet David’s financial demands. That means one of the most recognizable defenders in football will likely play elsewhere in 2023.
We’ve identified three potential landing spots for Lavonte David’s game-changing services.
The Bills remain in win-now mode. General manager Brandon Beane must be aggressive throughout free agency following yet another disappointing and premature postseason exit versus Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bills are currently over the cap but will become cap-compliant by midweek. Matt Milano is among the league’s most effective linebackers in coverage. Milano and David would form a dynamic duo.
Fellow linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is set for unrestricted free agency. Reports indicate Edmunds could be seeking $15 million annually. The 33-year-old David should be available for considerably less. Spotrac projects David to sign a contract under $10 million. The Bills should make a valiant effort to retain the ascending Edmunds, but David would represent a fine consolation prize should Edmunds price himself outside of Buffalo’s comfort zone.
I’m convinced the Commanders are going to make a splash in free agency. It’ll either be a linebacker like David or an offensive tackle like Orlando Brown Jr. Hiring Eric Bieniemy as an assistant head coach and offensive coordinator indicates Washington is entering the 2023 campaign with loftier expectations. Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are entering a do-or-die season.
Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew is equipped with approximately $16.5 million in cap space. More financial flexibility could soon arrive via veteran releases or restructures. The Commanders didn’t receive quality linebacker play from the likes of David Mayo and Cole Holcomb last season. Holcomb and Jon Bostic played the 2022 season on expiring contracts. Neither player is expected back in Washington. David would make a fine pairing with Jamin Davis, a former first-rounder who is still taking developmental steps forward.
The Dolphins are hellbent on competing for the AFC East with the Bills. The Dolphins closed the gap with a terrific offseason last year. General manager Eric Grier must follow that up with another aggressive free agency period.
Miami should look to retool their linebacker corps. Elandon Roberts is a free agent and struggled mightily in coverage last year, earning a grade of 43.1 from Pro Football Focus. For comparison, David scored a coverage grade of 88.5 while playing more than 600 snaps as a passing-down defender. Fellow linebackers Duke Riley and Sam Eguavoen are also set to reach the open market next week.
The linebacker position room may look drastically different next season. David could spearhead a new approach. The Dolphins should possess an interest in pairing Jerome Baker with David.
NFL Rule Changes League Should Implement In 2023
- Mar 24, 2023
Colts 7-Round Mock Draft 2023: March Edition
- Mar 24, 2023