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Will the Buccaneers trade Devin White?

Image: Gary Mccullough/AP

Bucs linebacker Devin White created speculation that he might be on the trading block with a series of cryptic Instagram posts on Monday.


Why are we here?

Contract talks between Devin White and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to have stalled, to the point where White has asked the Buccaneers to trade him. Tampa Bay signed a lot of their core talent (Lavante David, Jamel Dean) while dealing with Salary Cap limitations. As of this writing, the Buccaneers have over $74M in Dead Cap money for 2023 – by far the most in the NFL.

Should they trade him? Devin White has been a solid player for the 4 years he’s been in Tampa. He was the best defensive player the year they won the Super Bowl (his second season). He is a liability in coverage on defense but is one the best sideline to sideline linebackers in the league.. He’s obviously not happy right now and that could present a problem in the locker room if he’s back without a new deal.

Potential Compensation: 

The real question is: does the team value the player more than the trade package they could get for him? Or vice versa? In evaluating potential compensation, the most comparable trade out there is the Roquan Smith deal between the Bears and Ravens. In that trade, the Bears received a 2nd and 5th round pick from the Ravens, as well as a player (AJ Klein). 

The Buccaneers shouldn’t be asking for anything less than that for him. If they did, the team would look bad publicly for it. A high 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick would make sense (given that they currently don’t have a 4th rounder) as a foundation for the trade. Is that enough to get them to want to move off of him? Is there a team out there willing to give up that compensation for him?

The New Contract

Any team trading for him will also need to consider giving him a contract similar or better than that of Smith. Roquan received a 5-year, $100 Million contract from the Ravens, with $65 Million in guarantees. 

Given that teams have already made plans for their cap in 2023, any new team will need to either (a) make an adjustment to their existing plan; or (b) have enough cap space to make an offer now. Roquan counts for about $9 Million against the cap for the Ravens in 2023. Which I assume would be a similar structure for Devin White. 

The Bottom Line

Looking at Tampa’s Roster, I don’t see any way they can create an additional $9-10M in cap space this year to sign him to the extension he’s looking for. The Bucs are currently $2.6 Million under the cap but need to allocate about $9 Million for their draft picks this year. Additionally, all of their major contracts are leveraged into future years. There’s no way they can cut any more players to save money for a contract like this.

However, the Buccaneers would save 100% of Devin White’s contract by trading him. That’s one of the advantages of trading players on rookie deals. White is due $11.7 Million this year and that’ll be enough to allocate the funds needed to their 2023 draft class. This has to be a serious consideration for the team. 

The Solution

Given these facts, it makes sense to trade him now and save the $11.7 Million that he is due. Linebacker isn’t as valuable a position in the NFL these days. But there are teams out there that would be interested in a player of Devin White’s caliber. If the Buccaneers can get a high 2nd and 4th in the 2023 draft, I think they should take it.

Possible trade destinations for White include: Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, and Arizona Cardinals. They all possess the money to pay him, the draft picks to offer, and the need for a linebacker. We’ll see what the future holds but Tampa should certainly (at a minimum) explore all of their options.

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