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Predicting Four 2023 Middle Linebacker Free Agent Destinations

Lavonte David

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Predicting Four 2023 Middle Linebacker Free Agent Destinations

The 2023 NFL offseason should be stacked with a lot of quarterback decisions and major trades, but some are forgetting about the pristine middle linebacker talent in this class. Where will some of the best free-agent middle linebacker talent end up?

There are probably four middle linebackers in this upcoming free agency class that I would consider elite.

The franchise tag for the middle linebacker position should be around $20.93 Million, per SportsNaut.

Without further ado, let’s make some predictions.

Lavonte David re-signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lavonte David is still an outstanding middle linebacker in today’s league. David played in all 17 of Tampa Bay’s games at 33 years old and led the team in tackles. He was the Bucs’ highest-rated player in 2022, per PFF.

This is a pivotal offseason for the Buccaneers. Life without Tom Brady is an adjustment, so they need to keep some of the talents that helped them win a Super Bowl just two seasons ago.

The Bucs and David have a mutual interest, per reports. He was being paid $12.5 million AAV last season. You can expect David to get something similar this offseason.

Obviously, there is a massive concern with Tampa Bay’s cap space. They are $50 million in the hole at least for this upcoming season, currently sitting at dead last in the NFL.

“He’s a very valuable player for us,” Tampa’s head coach Todd Bowles said at the NFL Combine.

“When you’re over [the cap] 50-plus million right now, it’s fair to say everybody has a case right now. In the next two weeks, things will die down and we’ll start to have a clearer picture of where we need to go and what we’re trying to do. But Lavonte is a big piece of our defense. He’s a key piece of the organization and everybody in the building loves him.”

Look, I usually wouldn’t expect a team to re-sign a player when they’re this deep in cap hell like the Bucs are. But I think David wants to be in Tampa above all else, and that’ll eventually be the deciding factor. Tampa is going to do everything they can to retain David.

Tremaine Edmunds signs with Pittsburgh Steelers

Tremaine Edmunds is a freak of nature. Edmunds was one of the Buffalo Bills’ best defensive players in 2022, racking up 102 tackles in 13 games.

The Bills are in a tough cap position right now. They currently already sit at $18 million over the cap, 27th in the league. Plus, Buffalo already has a middle linebacker on a long-term deal with Matt Milano. It would certainly be a confusing move for the Bills to pay two middle linebackers’ big contracts.

Here’s where the Steelers swoop in. It’s not like they have a ton of cap space right now either, but they likely free up some cap when they cut players like Mitch Trubisky.

Pittsburgh will likely let UFA linebackers Devin Bush and Robert Spillane walk.

Terrell Edmunds is Tremaine’s brother and is currently an unrestricted free agent. Many expect Terrell to re-sign with the Steelers, and if/when he does, Pittsburgh will be dead set on Tremaine.

The Steelers love family bloodlines. Connor and Cameron Heyward, T.J. and Derek Watt. It’s inevitable that Pittsburgh will be in hard pursuit of Edmunds’ skills, and I think they end up with him. Expect around $11.5 million per season for Edmunds.

T.J. Edwards signs with New York Giants

T.J. Edwards proved himself down stretch last season as one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. Edwards had a career year last year and was a major factor in the Eagles’ NFC Championship-winning season.

But reality sucks. And the reality is that Edwards will be demanding to be paid as one of the best linebackers in the NFL and the Eagles simply can’t afford it right now. The 26-year-old will likely demand over $11 million in free agency.

Philadelphia has 20 free agents, and most deem 13 of them to be very impactful. That list includes Jason Kelce, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and others.

Philly has proved that they can draft players like no other team. I think they’ll regroup and draft another middle linebacker to go along with rookie Nakobe Dean. Unfortunately, they’re going to have to let Edwards walk to a division rival.

Why the Giants? Well, the youth movement is on for New York. The Giants will be signing a middle linebacker or drafting one this offseason. Most of the time they were running Jaylon Smith out there last season. No wonder they were in the bottom 10 in the league for rushing defense.

New York can certainly afford it, too. They sit at fourth in the league with $43 million ready to spend. Once they make a decision on Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, the next move will be a middle linebacker. Edwards is a perfect fit.

David Long signs with Las Vegas Raiders

David Long is easily one of the most underrated players in the entire NFL. The 26-year-old racked up a career-high in tackles despite only playing in 12 games.

With the Tennessee Titans expected to enter tank mode soon, they’ll be reluctant to give a big contract to a middle linebacker. This is where the Raiders come into play.

Las Vegas’ biggest hole last season had to be at the middle linebacker position. After Blake Martinez gave up football to sell Pokemon cards, Vegas had no middle linebacker and it showed.

The Raiders gave up a 17-point lead to Jacksonville last year and their defense hit a low point. You’d have to think they need a middle linebacker coming into this season.

Long might be less expensive than the Edmunds and Davids of the world as well. Not that it matters, because Vegas has the third most cap space in the league right now at $46 million.

Long can step in and make a difference right away for a franchise that has lacked a strong defense for the past few decades.


Other teams will make moves to try and secure their linebackers for the future. The Detroit Lions come to mind. Some middle linebackers were snubbed from this list, like Deion Jones and Drue Tranquill.

This is a good middle linebacker free-agent class. Better than most years.

If your team is on this list, I hope they end up with the best off-ball linebacker they can get.


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