Skip to main content

General manager Jason Licht: Lavonte David 'is the standard' of what Buccaneers look for in player

As of Friday, Lavonte David is officially back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 13th season.

An all-time great for the pewter and black, David is coming off a season his general manager tabbed as his best yet. How much longer does the 34-year-old have left? Well, he's just worried about the immediate future, and not contemplating the conclusion of it all just yet.

"We're going to worry about [Year] 13 right now and then we're going to go from there," David said Friday, via team transcript, when he was asked how long he believes he can keep playing. "Honestly, I always say, the good Lord has blessed me tremendously to be here and I love it and I enjoy it. We're just going to keep on taking it one day at a time and one year at a time and see how it goes. We're just going to try to get to the Super Bowl this year and then I'll let you know after that."

Year 12 was one in which David produced 134 tackles (his most since a career-high 147 in 2015) and 4.5 sacks (his most since he registered five in 2016) in 15 games.

Per general manager Jason Licht's account, it's the finest David has looked in a career that many view as Hall of Fame worthy.

"It's really an honor and a privilege for all of us that in work in this business, that aren't players, to be in the NFL because of the fact that most of us have a lot of passion and love [for] this game," Licht said. "The reason we love it is because we get to be around great players, but what makes this even more special is we're with elite players like Lavonte. He's elite in every way -- as a person, as a player, his stats. It's not really his stats -- he's not really a tackle collector -- he makes these plays when they count and very consistently, too. He's playing at the best level that he's ever played, right now, and he'll continue to do that. He's on a Hall of Fame track, for sure."

David and the Buccaneers are coming off a third straight NFC South title-winning season, one in which they surprisingly advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Following a season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions, David's future came into immediate question. However, he didn't mince words in his hopes of returning to play and doing so with the Bucs. His request came to fruition with a one-year deal.

Thus, the same quandaries will be cast in Tampa next year, but for now, it's about David being back where he belongs and aiming to maintain his consistent brilliance.

The linebacker's tallied 100-plus tackles in all but two seasons and he's hoping to once more fuel a playoff-level defense in the hopes of claiming the second Super Bowl triumph of his career.

"I think it's just my personal drive and my personal competitiveness -- knowing that one day, everything would be how it is right now -- being able to win three division championships and a Super Bowl," David said of why he keeps choosing to re-sign with the Bucs. "I just knew that one day, that would happen. We [were] able to get the right people in the building and we [were] able to do that. For me, personally, I felt like I was giving up if I'd do something like [go somewhere else]. For an organization to draft me and be able to have that faith in me, give me a contract after three years, it just goes to show how they feel about me. It was only right that I ride it out to see how far this thing is going to go. It's been a blessing and I'm thankful. We got a Super Bowl and I love it, so I'm definitely grateful for that."

Including his rookie deal after he was selected by the Bucs in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, David has now signed five contracts with the club.

He'll play for a second consecutive season on a one-year pact. He's back and so too are wide receiver Mike Evans and quarterback Baker Mayfield. In Licht's eyes, though, it's David who personifies what it means to be a Buccaneer and the model they'll be searching for in the upcoming 2024 draft.

"He is the epitome of it," Licht said. "He is the poster child, literally, for us. We have a silhouette of a Bucs player in our draft room that says, 'I am that man,' and this is the person that we want in a player -- the traits that we just said -- and it doesn't show his face, but it is Lavonte. He is the one that we look for every year. He is the standard."

Related Content