TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Bucs linebacker Lavonte David is the longest-tenured current Bucs player, just finishing his 11th season with the team that selected him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
This offseason, however, comes with some uncertainty, as he’s set to become a free agent in March.
“You never know what could happen,” David said. “I don’t worry about it too much though. It’s not up to me. I’ll take this offseason, time to just reflect, get my body right and see what I’m going to do from there.”
David is coming off a season where he played all 17 regular season games and had his most tackles since his Pro Bowl year in 2015. A significant feat, not only at this point in his career but also coming off a foot injury last season that kept him out of several games.
“He’s a true professional,” said Bucs Head Coach Todd Bowles. “He came back. He worked out every day. He kept his body good. He kept his legs fresh. He did all the right things.”
Bowles added, “You’ve got to protect him from himself sometimes because he tries to go nonstop. But it’s a credit to him and how hungry he is and how much he loves to play the game.”
David’s love of the game showed up right out of the gates as a starter in his rookie season, leading the team in tackles — something he did his first four seasons in the league. Now he stands as one of the greats, with the most solo tackles (947) and fumble recoveries (18) in the NFL since 2012.
While steadily putting up top numbers for his team, he kept his head down and persevered through some lean years — eight seasons of missing the playoffs and seven losing seasons in that stretch. But his loyalty to the franchise paid off in year nine, finally making it to his first postseason, and ultimately winning a Super Bowl that same year. The early adversity gave him the utmost appreciation for their recent stretch of making the playoffs.
“I definitely don’t take these opportunities for granted,” David said. “You never know when you’re going to be back here again. Luckily, three years in a row we’ve been able to be in this tournament, but it’s definitely a situation where every football player would dream to be in.”
He’s also expressed his gratitude for the Bucs organization, a franchise he said he’d love to continue playing for.
“Oh yeah, of course, of course,” David said. “Who wouldn’t? They entrusted me with 11 years and I’ve been a captain eight or nine of those 11 years. I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here and would love to finish my career here. But like I said, I’ve just got a lot to think about right now so I’m just going to take this time and embrace this moment.”
If David remains with the Bucs, he would need to play five more seasons in Tampa to tie Ronde Barber as the longest-tenured Bucs player in franchise history.