TAMPA, Fla. -- The Buccaneers have one very important point of business to take care of this offseason that doesn't involve drafting a quarterback or signing a high-profile free agent.
But it’s just as important as either of those two things. The Bucs need to take care of one of their own. They need to sign linebacker Lavonte David to a contract extension.
David’s under contract through the end of the 2015 season, but the Bucs would be wise to wrap him up as soon as possible. It would be dangerous to let David get anywhere close to free agency because he is a cornerstone on which the Bucs are trying to build.
It won’t be cheap. Based on what other top linebackers make, David should command somewhere around $7 million per season. The Bucs would be smart to get a deal done with David before he plays another season and drives the price tag up.
Coach Lovie Smith frequently calls David the best outside linebacker in football and he might be right. David is so good and so dependable that people tend to take him for granted and that’s why he has yet to be selected for the Pro Bowl.
Fans outside of Tampa don’t know who David is and that’s unfortunate. But teams around the league know all about David. If he were to become a free agent, teams would be jumping over one another to try to sign him.
The Bucs can’t afford to let that happen. Despite a 2-14 first season, you get the sense that Smith is building something good. He’s modeling the defense after what it was in the franchise’s glory days.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a lot like Warren Sapp. David might be the second coming of Derrick Brooks. McCoy and David are the nucleus and that’s not a bad start.
The Bucs already signed McCoy to a long-term extension. Now, it’s time to take care of David.