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Lavonte David, Buccaneers agree to 5-year extension

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Less than a week after DeAndre Levy signed a new deal with the Lions, one of the NFL's other premier linebackers landed a long-term contract.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to terms with weakside linebacker Lavonte David on a five-year extension, NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported Sunday, via a source who had seen the deal. The Buccaneers later confirmed the agreement.

The new contract will pay David $50.25 million with $25.56 million guaranteed, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per agent Ron Butler. The contract also includes certain escalators that could increase the value of his new deal to $54.95 million, Butler told Rapoport.

Getlin reported in late July the two sides had been engaged in active negotiations dating all the way back to the draft.

A second-round pick in 2012, David was one of the NFL's most underpaid players, due to enter the final year of his rookie contract.

His deal trumps Levy's four-year, $33.72 pact, which makes David the highest-paid 4-3 linebacker in the game. In fact, David's annual average of $10.05 million is behind only Justin Houston, Clay Matthews, Ryan Kerrigan and Bobby Wagner among all NFL linebackers.

David, 25, is worth the investment. Along with Levy and Carolina's Thomas Davis, he is one of the NFL's most underappreciated stars.

That brilliant trio has combined for exactly zero Pro Bowls because the voting system is flawed, pitting 4-3 sideline-to-sideline tackling machines against the more glorified 3-4 edge rushers under the same generic "linebacker" tag.

David's 20 tackles for loss in 2012 were the second most on record for a rookie since the NFL began tracking the statistic in 2000. He was even better as a sophomore in 2013, stuffing the stat sheet with 145 tackles, seven sacks, 10 passes defensed and five interceptions en route to a first-team All Pro nod.

Although his playmaking ability dropped off last season, the Bucs believe he's poised for a bounce-back campaign this year.

As the backbone of Tampa Bay's defense, David and Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy rival any linebacker-defensive lineman tandem in the league.

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