Replacing Lavonte David

March 6th, 2023

Free agent LB Azeez Al-Shaair.

Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht is in a pinch.

On one hand, he has one of the better corners in the NFL set to become a free agent, 26-year-old Jamel Dean. Dean is just now hitting his peak.

On the other hand, he has Lavonte David, one of the best linebackers to ever play the game. David, 33, is in the sunset of his career. Though still effective and the Bucs’ leading tackler in 2022, it’s hard to fathom he will still be with the Bucs in two years when the team likely gets good again.

With Team Glazer loot limited, what do you do?

“This Joe” has made it clear: You keep the young stud. It’s a passing league and good luck finding another corner as good as Dean. Without an edge rusher (and the Bucs don’t have one), losing Dean could be disastrous.

And yes, Joe would be sick to see David walk away.

(Sorry, but Joe is skeptical that Shaq Barrett, 30, will return to his old self after blowing out his Achilles.)

So if David walks when the free agency dinner bell rings a week from Wednesday, what is Licht to do about linebacker? Simple, suggests Kevin Patra of An up-and-coming young linebacker who is caught in a logjam in San Francisco also is hitting free agency.

And his name is Azeez Al-Shaair.

If the Bucs move away from longtime star Lavonte David, they’ll be looking for a younger playmaker to fill the gap. Al-Shaair fits the bill. Though he was trapped behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw for much of his time in San Francisco, Al-Shaair showed flashes of playmaking ability when on the field, including during a 102-tackle campaign in 2021 when he replaced an injured Greenlaw. With several off-linebacker options hitting free agency, Al-Shaair’s market will be an interesting one to track. Whoever ultimately inks the LB will be getting a playmaker on the rise.

For those unaware, Al-Shaair, 25, is from Tampa. He played for Hillsborough High School and later Florida Atlantic. So you better believe Al-Shaair would love to play for his hometown Bucs.

Al-Shaair played two years at FAU for Lane Kiffin. Given how Kiffin’s dad, former legendary Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, helps out with Ole Miss defenders for his son, who is now the coach of the Rebels, it’s not a stretch to think Al-Shaair has been coached up some by Monte Kiffin.

Signing Al-Shaair would be similar to when the Bucs signed Shaq. At the time in 2019, Shaq was stuck in a logjam at Denver and he signed a prove-it contract with the Bucs.

Shaq proved it by racking up a franchise-record 19.5 sacks his first season.

No, Al-Shaair likely won’t ever replace David. But it does seem as though the Bucs might get a reasonable deal with the Tampa native.

24 Responses to “Replacing Lavonte David”

  1. Fansince76 Says:

    Looks like it would be a good move if David moves on.

  2. Dre bucs fan Says:

    Am i missing something? I mean when did Dean become just this lockdown stud cornerback that’s irreplaceable lol local media is scaring the fans here…I’m
    Sure we won’t lose any production in the pass defense losing Dean next year.

  3. BucsfanFred Says:

    If we can get a team friendly deal with David I’d be ecstatic.

  4. stpetebucfan Says:

    I certainly respect Dean’s “talent”. But his application of that talent has been spotty at best. He’s inconsistent and times and struggles due to his fragile body to stay on the field. He’s missed on average two games in each of his four seasons and has played hurt in others. He’s simply not durable.

    So for the right $$ yeah he’d be worth it, but you can’t be a true lockdown corner in the NFL from the training room.

    I would love it if both LVD and Dean were able to stay. I’m not going to go all “chicken little” if they both depart. They are BOTH replaceable.

  5. HC Grover Says:

    These players are not irreplaceable. They are not as great as people think. They are too expensive to keep. The D gave up a lot of points and many mistakes.

  6. acey Says:

    Honestly? Seems like the dream scenario is retaining LVD and bringing in Shaair at the same time, somehow. You have him on roster and he either steps up and becomes a viable option for when LVD retires (or if we can’t resign White), or we get to have a back-up ILB that’s not a Day 3 or later pick.

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Interesting possibility Joe. His 2021 stats were impressive, but last year was more pedestrian. Missed 4 games due to going on IR for a knee problem in the 1st half of the year, but bounced back OK it looks like. Of course, 49ers use their LBs much differently than we do. LVD & White almost never come off the field, except when injured of course. Al-Shaair was typically playing 50% or less of the 49ers def snaps and was used much more in a rotation.

    Which brings up a major problem with the Bucs. Our high-priced beef plays a LOT of snaps, on offense & defense, mostly because we have marginal DEPTH IMO. Guys like LVD & White averaged 96% def snaps last season, and that’s normal for them, as long as they’re healthy. Problems come in when they get injured because the talent behind them is a big step down.

    Fortunately both LVD & White stay reasonably healthy. Such hasn’t been the case though with our Secondary. Davis is high-priced, but he’s averaged 76% availability since 2018. Dean’s average availability is actually less than that (62%) since he was drafted in 2019, but some of that is due to him not being used a whole bunch in 2019. Winfield’s availability these past couple of years has been pretty low IMO (76%) but it was very good in 2020 (97%). Too many injuries on defense cripple us.

  8. Bucs Guy Says:

    Trade White for a 2nd and 3rd round picks. Re-sign LVD.
    LVD is a better player and should cost the team less.

  9. ThatAintRight! Says:

    If it’s me personally I’m keeping LVD at least two more season. He’s playing great still and not slowing down. Also he’s close to being on the top 10 of all time tackle leaders in the NFL. You don’t ignore that man of this feat. He’s a legend and a future HOF great. We’re also going to need his leadership on defense. I would move Devin White to OLB he’s best using that speed/strength combo moves off the edge as a pass rusher. Joe Tryon can be the backup for now. We’re likely moving Wirfs to LT as we should. The idea of drafting 2 more OL specifically a pass blocking RT and a large road grading LG would be ideal. I also am not against sending Blaine packing and drafting Tanner McKee QB at 19. Although I don’t really trust Kyle Trask I kinda want to see this young kid play more often. By week 6 next year that changes probably. RB in round 1 sounds nice but we aren’t there yet. We are likely gonna lose Jamel Dean outside CB if that happens we need to be able to replace him and the draft is our best chance. Rd 3 a skilled slot Cb seems likely and then resign SMB and start him for much cheaper contract. Best bet for rd 4-7 would be big bodied blockers who can be on the LOS and hold their own every snap. 6-7 265 and just pass block. That alone would be huge help to the offense all around. We need TEs, but wouldn’t worry about it this year. We should have a lot more cap space now after lot of guys we’re released and with new talent coming in we should be able to add some more younger help right now.

  10. dmatt Says:

    stpetebucfan And Dre Buc fan,
    I agree with you both, Dean is not this lock down corner n his performance has been spotty at best. How did we get to this point of chatter as if Dean’s another Aqib Talib? Geez, he still plays stiff n if he was remotely close to being Talib, he’d have more ints than drops n he’d play till the whistle blows vs giving up on potential ints due to slow reaction time. I’ve taken the time to closely watch the films on him n he is slow to react on plays. He’s not a heads up type player. Don’t give him the loot, let him walk. Put practice squad player Don Gardner in there n I guaranteed u see improvement. Quit blowing Deans head up!

  11. ThatAintRight! Says:

    Also want to add that I really like the DE out of USC. 6-5 350 and 13 sacks last year he’s another Vita Vea. Love the idea of pairing those two up together. Pats rush specialists with great size and strength. I’d get rid of Gholston and the 3-4 DE we have tbh. Another coverage ILB next to David is important in my eyes. Keeping the OLB blitzing on the tackles means more opportunities for opponents to get beat and called for penalties. We have talent on the defensive side. A few more names could really enhance the effect of our defense.

  12. Duane Says:

    Why the assumption that Lavonte David is only in it to maximize his paycheck, and sticking with the Bucs is not an option? David said himself that he wants to finish his career in Tampa. That is beyond a wink and a not that he’s willing to take a pay cut to stay here.

    Unlike Tom Brady, David has nothing to prove, that he’s only a “system” linebacker who is only good because of his coach, as was the claim with Brady. He loves working for Coach Bowles, and he’d love to see the team win games which does NOT mean letting Jemel Dean get away.

    I really don’t see Lavonte David trying to “cash in” on the last contract of his career.

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    David has been well-paid his entire career. I suspect he’ll opt for a very team-friendly deal to finish as a Buc, and have his name on the RoH.

    Speaking of RoH, why is Hardy Nickerson’s name not there? If any player turned this lousy franchise around, it’s him.

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Can’t afford either LVD or Dean…..replace them with draft picks…not FAs…..that will help us to sign Nelson, RNR, perhaps Neal, Ryan or Edwards.

    Sorry folks….time to pay the piper.

  15. Cobraboy Says:

    The problem with Dean is NOT his ability or talent. It’s the cap, pure and simple.

    “Can’t keep him” and “letting him walk away” are two entirely different concepts.

    Fact: no matter what, the Bucs cannot afford him.

  16. Joe Swanson Says:

    Good young linebacker hope they sign him.

  17. Dooley Says:


    Agreed on Hardy Nickerson

  18. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Dean isn’t a locked down corner…..that’s just it…..more hype than anything honestly…serviceable at best.

    This guy Azeez Al-Shaairs……put on some impressive tape in his limited action on the field.

    BUT….a word of caution should be noted here……he was playing on a field with exceptional defensive talent surrounded all around him.

    Can this guy actually lead a team like LVD? That’s really the “silver bullet” question?????

  19. ElioT Says:

    He’s had some knee injuries at FAU and San Fran.

  20. Pryda sec 147 Says:

    If we lost Dean better freaking believe our DBs getting cooked

  21. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    I would take Al-Shaiir over the most overrated defensive player in the game: Sir Devin White.

  22. Buccos Says:

    Jamel Dean is a good young corner. The only problem is that he has hands like feet. Almost as bad as Carlton Davis. Getting production from your corners means INT’s. If you can’t take the ball away from the other team then you aren’t that good. Yes he gets a lot passes defensed. I’m not taking anything away from him but he needs to finish the play

  23. THOMAS PFALZ Says:

    IMO I think Dean is better than Davis.

  24. covertwo22 Says:

    LVD will re-sign for a team friendly deal. He’s already made his money.
    Let Dean walk. This draft is too deep with excellent corners to over pay for Dean.

    Any idea if financially it would be worth cutting Barret?