Free Agent Targets: Washington could use help at LB, and Lavonte David is that

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Ryan Homler
·4 min read
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Free Agent Targets: WFT could use help at LB, and Lavonte David is that originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

With the Super Bowl in the past and the 2020 season in the books, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Ryan Homler take a look at 10 potential free agents that the Washington Football Team could benefit from signing this offseason. Next up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.

Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2012 second-round pick from Nebraska; Unrestricted free agent; 6-foot-1 | 233 lbs. | 31 years old

The Buccaneers' Super Bowl LV victory will largely be remembered for the fact that Tom Brady switched teams and in just one season led them to the promised land. That was a big factor, but there was so much more to the Tampa Bay team.

The championship was the sum of tremendous play all around, especially down the stretch on defense. Watching their performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, it was impossible not to see that everyone on the unit was flying to the football and making effort plays. That included No. 54, Lavonte David.

David finished with six tackles and two passes defended, stifling Kansas City's offense in all phases. His work in the final game was a culmination of what has been an impressive nine-year career and a strong 2020 season.

Now set to enter the free agent market, David will be one of the top options at his position for teams interested. That should include the Washington Football Team. Here's why:

All-around defender

One thing is clear about Washington's defense: The unit is pretty set in terms of pass-rushing and the defensive front. With Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, Washington was able to transform into a top defense in 2020.

Yet beyond the line of scrimmage, the rest of the group needs to see improvement. That includes the linebacking core. Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic and company held things down during the latest campaign, but what that position could really use is someone that can defend well at every level of the defense.

Enter: David.

The inside linebacker has shown throughout his career he can excel in stopping both the run and the pass. With just one season under 100 combined tackle, David has strong instincts that allow him to break through the line and run side-to-side to slow down and stop runners.

In addition, David can hold his own in the passing game and provide a little extra juice as a pass rusher when needed. This detailed piece from ESPN's Jenna Laine during the season shows just how complete of a player David is and how his impact can be felt on nearly every play.

In the word of his defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, "he can do everything." That sounds like something Washington could benefit from.

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An aggressive and instinctual player

This fits in with being an all-around defender, but David's ability to react on a dime and go at everything 100 percent is crucial in what Washington and Ron Rivera are looking for in a linebacker.

During the 2020 season, one of Rivera's biggest gripes with his unit was that the group was being too hesitant on certain plays. It even led to them being labeled as "soft" by some.

Washington's scheme works best when the linebackers are getting downhill quickly and focused on making a tackle, not a mistake. David plays with that energy and could set a precedent for the others on the roster.

Veteran leadership 

Washington has built up its defense primarily through the draft in recent years, and that has led to a unit filled with talent and youth. Though the likes of Allen -- and even Young -- have asserted themselves as leaders for the group, the team could always use another veteran voice.

With David, Washington wouldn't just get a consistent player with years of experience as a captain, but it would also get a champion. The linebacker has now reached the pinnacle of success and understands what it takes to make the long journey and end up on top.

Instilling this in a young and hungry group of players in Washington can only be beneficial in the long run. The group got a taste of success in 2020 and bringing in David sets an example of how to approach a run at a championship.

David, like other big name free agents, will command a decent-sized contract this offseason. Pro Football Focus has it set at three-years, $40 million dollars. It also seems rather plausible that the linebacker remains in Tampa Bay, wanting to continue his career with the team that drafted him and run it back.

Yet, the price should not concern Washington as Rivera has stated the organization will be a player for the top guys. Even if David wants to remain with the Bucs, it can't hurt to try and see if something can change his mind.

The Super Bowl showed just how important the play of linebackers can be, and if Washington wants to get there, having someone like David would be a major step in the right direction. 

Other Free Agent Targets:

Kenny Golladay

Allen Robinson

Safeties