Earlier this offseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White posted some on social media indicating he could be playing elsewhere in 2023. White then took to Twitter to say that he was just reflecting on the first four years of his NFL career, but it appears there may have actually been more to the story.
Tuesday, ESPN reported that White has requested a trade from the Buccaneers. The Bucs do not want to trade White, as they picked up his fifth-year option last offseason, which will pay him $11.7 million in 2023.
On Thursday, Bucs GM Jason Licht made that point abundantly clear.
"We all have all the respect in the world for Devin," Licht said. "He's done some great things for us and we look forward to more from him in the future. ... If he has the type of year we think he's capable of, we can hopefully put this to rest and everybody's happy.
"This isn't something I'm holding against Devin. I still feel he's a tremendous person. I would never say he's not the type of teammate we want because of this."
White was selected by Tampa Bay with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of LSU. He burst onto the scene as a rookie with 91 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and one interception in just 13 games played. In his second season, White was a Second Team All-Pro after notching 140 combined tackles and a career-high nine sacks on the way to a Super Bowl run, and then he made the Pro Bowl in 2021. Last season, White recorded 5.5 sacks and 124 combined tackles.
White may be looking for a new deal as he enters the final year of his contract. Spotrac's market value tool estimates he's in line for a four-year, $80,418,000 deal that carries an AAV of $20.1 million. That hypothetical contract would surpass Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens' average per year of $20 million, making White the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL. If the Buccaneers eventually resign to trading him, here are a few landing spots for the athletic, 25-year-old linebacker.
If White had his way, his next team may be the Philadelphia Eagles. On new Eagles cornerback Greedy Williams' Instagram post of him signing with the team back on March 22, White was one of the top commenters saying, "Let's make it happen."
Philadelphia has a need at White's position, with two of its starting linebackers from the 2022 season's run to the Super Bowl, T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White, departing in free agency. However, it will come down to whether or not general manager Howie Roseman opts to invest in an off-ball linebacker in the same way the Ravens did for Roquan Smith recently. Baltimore traded a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick, as well as linebacker A.J. Klein, to the Bears in exchange for Smith before proceeding to make him the highest-paid player at the position with a five-year, $100 million contract that included $60 million guaranteed.
Right now, the Eagles are projected to enter 2023 with last year's third-round pick out of Georgia, Nakobe Dean, and one-year rental Nicholas Morrow as their starting linebackers. The Dean pick was surely made with this scenario in mind, but as Roseman has shown in the past with receiver A.J. Brown, he's not afraid to snag a player in their mid-twenties with a large contract extension looming.
The Texans are lacking in talent across the board -- hence the reason they ended up with the 2023 NFL Draft's second overall pick. With incoming head coach DeMeco Ryans, a former Texans linebacker himself, now in charge, he surely thirsts for better defensive talent. Houston has the cap room to spend, but it will come down to the desire of a rebuilding team to surrender draft picks that it could be using on more affordable players.
The Vikings are in a weird spot. They could pivot away from quarterback Kirk Cousins and other veterans after this season and start again with a young quarterback throwing to Justin Jefferson, or they could double down on their window with Cousins. The 25-year-old White could be an addition to help achieve both realities: he could improve one of last season's worst defenses in 2023, and then Minnesota could give him the new deal he clearly covets early next offseason as Cousins' contract comes off the books. There's also a world where the Vikings pay White this offseason but structure the contract in a way to where the cap hits don't start making a dent until 2024 to make this transaction possible.
Trading for White would represent another all-in move for the Bills looking to make the most of quarterback Josh Allen's, wide receiver Stefon Diggs' and linebacker Von Miller's collective window. White would be a significant upgrade over Tyrel Dodson, giving the Bills incredible speed at linebacker between him and All-Pro Matt Milano. Buffalo would be a team that may not mind surrendering some picks to get players who are ready to contribute to winning NOW. The Bills didn't want to pay Tremaine Edmunds a big contract, but perhaps White fits the long-term mold they're looking for at the off-ball linebacker spot.