3. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David
David is 32 years (he’ll turn 33 on Jan. 23) and approaching the end of his 11th NFL season. But he is not showing many signs of slowing down, with 124 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and five pass breakups this season. In three of the last four seasons, he has not missed a single game while playing more than 1,000 defensive snaps. It’s not the be-all, end-all for his prowess in coverage, but his passer rating allowed in coverage improved to 90.9 this year from 106.5 in 2021. His Pro Football Focus coverage grade (88.5) was second-best among off-ball linebackers this season.
The Lions found a keeper in the 2022 draft in sixth-round pick Malcolm Rodriguez. But the rest of the linebacking corps is fairly questionable, due to free agent status (Alex Anzalone) or lack of consistency (Derrick Barnes).
Apart from his level of play, which remains high all-around, David would be just the kind of veteran presence the Lions defense could use. Not to mention the youth they have at linebacker.
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report outlined the case for the Lions to have David on their radar.
"The Lions boasted the league’s fourth-ranked offense. However, they ranked 29th against the run, 30th against the pass and dead last in total yards allowed. Lions fans should expect their team to target defensive players almost exclusively in free agency and the draft. Signing David to help shore up the second level would be a tremendous first step."
Per Spotrac, David’s projected market vale is $9.7 million per year. Would that be too expensive for the Lions? It shouldn’t be, and it also won’t be more than a one or two-year commitment.