- Lavonte David has a big decision to make in free agency
- David will be a popular name among NFL front offices this offseason
- Which teams could pursue the free agent linebacker?
For Super Bowl winning teams, the NFL offseason is filled with juicy storylines. Will the franchise be able to keep the core of the team together to defend their crown? Can they bring anyone in who hasn’t won yet to keep their edge? Will players who are eligible for free agency want every last dollar to capitalize on the high water mark of their careers? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and free agent Lavonte David will have to wrestle with these priorities in the coming weeks.
Simply put, David is a ferocious tackling machine. In his nine year NFL career, he has only fell short of the 100 combined tackle mark once in his career. David is also very durable, having only missed 7 games in the league. Now 31 years old, he has not shown many signs of slowing down, and would be a great addition for any team.
Tampa Bay has a ton of free agent decisions to make in free agency. In addition to David, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Shaquil Barrett are also free to negotiate with other teams. Barrett is also a linebacker and is 3 years younger than David, so he might be more of a priority for the team.
Which teams might David sign with if he doesn’t agree to return to Tampa Bay?
With as much cap space as anyone in the league, the Jets can basically sign whomever they want in free agency. New head coach Robert Saleh will look to establish a new culture, starting with the defensive side of the ball. There are arguably few players who would be more reliable in helping to achieve that than David.
Since 2011 only 3 LBs have earned a coverage grade of 80.0+ while seeing 90+ targets.
Lavonte David (2019) – 91.1
Lavonte David (2020) – 83.8
Leighton Vander Esch (2018) – 81.0 pic.twitter.com/uxyaYWIkAL
— PFF (@PFF) March 1, 2021
He’s not known for his pass rushing ability, but his knack for getting to the play and bringing down the ballcarrier would be extremely valuable to New York. The Jets were third in the NFL last year in missed tackles, and would surely improve in that area by bringing David to the team.
At the beginning of the NFL offseason, it didn’t seem like the Dolphins would be a feasible landing spot for David.
They already had a decent defense with veteran linebackers on the team. However, the recent release of Kyle Van Noy opens up a void for a Miami defense looking to challenge as one of the best in the league in 2021.
Per @MikeGarafolo Lavonte David could be heading elsewhere because of the cap situation in Tampa Bay.
— JC Cornell (@CornellNFL) March 3, 2021
Bringing in an upper echelon tackler like David could help the Dolphins defense ascend from very good to great next season. Miami was only middle of the pack last season in rushing yards allowed, and figure to improve in that category if they are able to upgrade the slot vacated by Van Noy.
With linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith suddenly question marks for a Cowboys team pencilling them in for production, David makes plenty of sense of Dallas this offseason. Dallas’ run defense was anaemic in 2020, allowing the second most rushing yards in the NFL.
With David’s versatility in being able to reach the play, Vander Esch and Smith could be unleashed as pass rushers. This would give the Cowboys’ defense a bunch of different ways to confuse the defense, and should bolster their overall performance in 2021.