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Can K.J. Britt upgrade the Bucs’ other LB spot in 2024?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have one of the NFL’s best linebackers in Lavonte David, but after five years of inconsistent play from Devin White, they let the former top-five draft pick walk in free agency this offseason.

Replacing him this season will be K.J. Britt, a former fifth-round pick out of Auburn who supplanted White in the starting lineup late last season.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles says that Britt’s continued growth and improvement has him ready to rise to the occasion as a full-time starter this year alongside David.

“Obviously, he can play all three downs,” Bowles said earlier this week. “We have so many packages and guys to move around – it’s a little early to determine who will be on what. In one week, he could be, in one week, he may not be, depending on who we’re playing and what we have available. But, he’s ready to play all three downs. I love his maturity. He’s grasping the mental part of the game and becoming the leader of that defense along with Lavonte [David] and ‘Win’ (Antoine Winfield Jr.) and Vita [Vea]. We’re kind of happy with where he’s progressing right now.”

Bowles says Britt’s mental processing is translating to physical improvements, as well.

“It was never his coverage skills, with him,” Bowles said of Britt’s struggles prior ot this season. “It was always his eyes. His eyes have gotten a lot calmer. He’s settled down, he knows what’s going on, and he understands where he needs to be on the field. I think he’s doing a lot better at that.”

White provided his share of splash plays throughout his five seasons in Tampa Bay, but Bowles and the Bucs will be looking for Britt to bring the down-by-down consistency that always eluded his predecessor.

QB Baker Mayfield

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QB Kyle Trask

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QB John Wolford

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RB Rachaad White

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RB Bucky Irving

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RB Chase Edmonds

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RB Sean Tucker

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WR Mike Evans

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WR Chris Godwin

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WR Trey Palmer

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WR Jalen McMillan

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WR Deven Thompkins

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WR Rakim Jarrett

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TE Cade Otton

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TE Payne Durham

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TE Ko Kieft

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TE Devin Culp

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 04: Devin Culp #83 of the Washington Huskies looks on before the…

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 04: Devin Culp #83 of the Washington Huskies looks on before the game against the Montana Grizzlies at Husky Stadium on September 04, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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OT Tristan Wirfs

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G Sua Opeta

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OL Graham Barton

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G Cody Mauch

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OT Luke Goedeke

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OL Robert Hainsey

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OL Ben Bredeson

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OT Brandon Walton

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OT Justin Skule

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G Elijah Klein

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OLB Yaya Diaby

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OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

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OLB Chris Braswell

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OLB Randy Gregory

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OLB Anthony Nelson

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DL Vita Vea

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DL Calijah Kancey

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DL Logan Hall

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DL Will Gholston

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DL Greg Gaines

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Nov 5, 2023Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports; Houston, Texas, USA;Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) passes as he is pressured from Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Greg Gaines (96) in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

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LB Lavonte David

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LB SirVocea Dennis

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LB K.J. Britt

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LB J.J. Russell

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CB Jamel Dean

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CB Zyon McCollum

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CB Christian Izien

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CB Bryce Hall

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CB Tavierre Thomas

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S Antoine Winfield Jr.

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S Jordan Whitehead

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DB Tykee Smith

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DB Josh Hayes

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K Chase McLaughlin

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P Jake Camarda

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LS Zach Triner

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Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire