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Buccaneers OLB Lavonte David not open to joining new team in free agency: 'I do want to retire a Buc'

Having just wrapped up his age-33 season, Lavonte David knows the end of his career is in the not-so-distant future.

But according to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker, whether his retirement will wait at least another year is largely dependent on if his current team is willing to keep him.

David was asked this week during an interview with Ronnie and TKras on 95.3 WDAE whether he'd consider joining a new team this offseason, or if the only options he'd consider at this point are re-signing with the Bucs or hanging up the cleats.

To that, David replied in the affirmative that his intentions are to remain a lifelong Buccaneer.

"Yeah, you could say that," David said. "It's at a point right now in my career -- 12 years playing with one organization -- a place that I've grown to be a man. Where I started as a young man and I grew up to a man in the city of Tampa. Just the love that the city of Tampa has for me and the love that I have for the city of Tampa. All the stuff that I poured into the city I love doing.

"So, of course, I would want to do that, I would want to stay a Buc for the rest of my career as long as I play. At the end of the day, yeah, I do want to retire a Buc, but it's just got to be a mutual thing."

Despite his age, David has continued to produce at a high rate in recent years, putting together one of his strongest seasons in 2023 as he helped the Buccaneers to an NFC South crown and playoff win.

David finished the year having played 17 of a possible 19 games, including two in the postseason. He had 134 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, all his best totals since at least 2016, also tacking on five passes defensed and a forced fumble.

"It definitely was a fun year for me, playing at that type of level at 33 years old," David said. "A lot of people don't expect that, but me, my whole mindset is as long as I'm feeling good, I'm going to go out there and do my thing."

David is poised to enter free agency in March, having signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay last spring to continue his tenure with the organization. The hope is that he can avoid joining the FA market once again, and he and the Bucs are able to come to a new agreement in the next few weeks to avoid parting ways.

While David has now made it clear where he stands in terms of wanting to be back, he recognized that it takes two to tango, and the Buccaneers will have to do their own evaluations to determine whether bringing him back for at least another year is mutually beneficial.

With Friday's announcement of the upcoming season's official salary cap, the Bucs currently are estimated to have over $40 million in cap space, per Over the Cap, but they also have to consider the cost of bringing back other valued pending free agents, including wide receiver Mike Evans, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and quarterback Baker Mayfield.

"I mean we haven't really spoken about that but we know how it goes right now," David said. "I'm 12 years in, I know how the game goes, they know. I just go from there. Whenever they're ready, they'll reach out.

"Right now, I'm just trying to keep myself ready, try to stay ready, and just get my body back feeling good because when you're off for a long time then it's harder to get back in shape or whatever it may be. To answer your question, no we haven't talked but I'm sure conversations will come up soon."

Those conversations will have to come soon for David, with free agency quickly approaching on March 13. He'll have to wait and see whether he and Tampa Bay can come to an agreement by then, and if not, what his next steps will be, whether on the field or off.

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