2023 looks like it will be a season of transition for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following the retirement announcement for quarterback Tom Brady, the team is left in a tough spot. In salary cap hell, do they try to maneuver things around so that they can compete for a playoff spot in 2023? Or, do they let things run their course and trade some veterans to enter a rebuild?
Thus far their moves in free agency give the impression that they are going to toe that line. The team traded starting offensive guard Shaq Mason to the Houston Texans and he won’t be the first player that leaves the franchise.
Tampa Bay has 30 players that are either unrestricted, restricted or exclusive-rights-free agents. Retaining all of them would be impossible, especially given how little money the team has to spend. But, they have been able to retain a few key pieces.
Cornerback Jamel Dean agreed to a four-year deal worth $52 million with $24.5 million guaranteed. He isn’t the only starter that will be coming back to Tampa Bay as the team also agreed to terms with veteran linebacker Lavonte Davis.
David agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Buccaneers for a 12th season. The contract has $7 million guaranteed and is one that the two sides have been working on since Tuesday according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Re-signing David will go a long way to the Buccaneers’ defense remaining in the top half of the league in 2023. Davis turned 33 years old in January but remains a very productive player at the second level of the team’s defense.
In 2022, David had 124 total tackles with 10 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and three quarterback hits. He also had five passes defended. While he may be losing a step or two athletically, David remains an elite linebacker given his high football IQ and dedication to his craft.
This past season, David remained elite as a coverage linebacker with a grade of 88, which was second among off-ball linebackers. Over the last four seasons, he has received a coverage grade of 93, which is tops in the league. The Buccaneers are keeping a great player that has shown no signs of slowing down.