Devin White Seeking At Least $18MM Per Year?

After C.J. Mosley reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2019, it has stabilized a bit in recent years. But Roquan Smith recently moved it to $20MM on average, signing a five-year deal worth $100MM weeks after being traded to the Ravens. This contract looks to be affecting the Buccaneers.

Devin White requested a trade this week, and while the Bucs are not entertaining offers right now, the fifth-year linebacker is believed to be “fed up” with the team’s negotiating efforts, Jenna Laine of reports. White, whose production and advanced metrics grades create a foggy perception of his value, is aiming high in his second-contract ask. The former No. 5 overall pick is seeking a deal worth between $18-$20MM per year, according to Laine.

That would place White in the top five at the position. Tremaine Edmunds received $18MM per year from the Bears last month, though the former first-rounder had free agency leverage. Smith also possessed unique leverage in Baltimore, being on the cusp of free agency due to the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson situation mandating a franchise tag. Shaquille Leonard and Fred Warner are the other linebackers earning at least $18MM on average, with Mosley’s $17MM-AAV accord in fifth place at the position.

We all have all the respect in the world for Devin,” Bucs GM Jason Licht said Thursday. “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.

“[The trade request] 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.”

The salary cap has climbed to the point White, 25, would not be out of step asking for such a contract, seeing as Mosley signed his market-disrupting Jets deal in 2019 and Warner ($19MM AAV) and Leonard ($19.7MM) signed their extensions in 2021. But White is not coming off an especially strong season, similar production notwithstanding. Pro Football Focus, long a White skeptic, ranked the LSU product near the bottom among off-ball ‘backers in both 2021 and 2022. Todd Bowles also addressed the topic of White loafing on plays last season. The rookie Bucs HC defended the linebacker and did not demote him, but while Smith and Edmunds enjoyed quality contract years, White’s fourth season — a rough Bucs slate on just about every level — left a bit to be desired.

Only one other off-ball linebacker (the Jaguars’ Foye Oluokun) earns at least $15MM on average. It is not known what the Bucs have offered, but a gap may have formed ahead of White’s trade request. White is one of the best pass-rushing ILBs in recent NFL history, accumulating 20.5 sacks as a pro, and is coming off three straight seasons with 120-plus tackles. The longtime Lavonte David apprentice played a central role in the Bucs’ defense backing the Brady-piloted Super Bowl run in 2020. But the Bucs, per Laine, want to see more from White, who has lacked consistency.

The Bucs re-signed David and Jamel Dean, doing so after giving lucrative extensions to Shaq Barrett and Carlton Davis. They also re-upped Vita Vea, making him the league’s highest-paid nose tackle. These deals also stand to complicate Bucs-White talks. Like the Bears last year, the Bucs probably do not have the franchise tag in their back pocket for White. With all linebackers grouped together on the tag, a 2024 tag will come in north of $20MM. That raises the stakes for 2023 negotiations.

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