NFL Reviewing Buccaneers Devin White Injury Report Issue

DECEMBER 20: The NFL is reviewing the Buccaneers’ injury report regarding White, Stroud tweets. The Bucs did not downgrade White from questionable to out, despite Bowles having doubled down on indicating the linebacker informed him before Sunday he was unable to go in Week 15.

Bowles said (via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) White was medically cleared to play but that the fifth-year linebacker “didn’t feel right” and informed the second-year HC he would be unable to suit up. Conversations lasted until Sunday morning, per Bowles, who added White did not find out he was officially inactive until the Bucs arrived at Lambeau Field. White’s foot injury has lingered for a while, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The NFL will determine if the Bucs proceeded within the rules regarding White’s status.

DECEMBER 19: Devin White‘s future in Tampa Bay was a talking point this offseason, and that appears to be the case once again. The Pro Bowl linebacker was inactive in Week 15, and questions have emerged regarding his health status and role with the team to close out the campaign.

White and the Buccaneers did not reach agreement on a long-term deal, which prompted a trade request. The former top-five pick ultimately arrived at minicamp and training camp, though, and committed to playing out the season on his $11.7MM fifth-year option. When speaking about his financial situation, White expressed a desire to remain in Tampa Bay for years to come.

A foot injury has left the 25-year-old out of the lineup since November, but he appeared to be in line to return in time for the team’s Week 15 win against the Packers. White was listed as a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday, but he did not suit up for the game. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times was among those who reported White told the team he was unable to play not due to the injury but rather because he found out K.J. Britt would remain in the starting lineup in his place.

When asked about White’s status, head coach Todd Bowles pushed back on those reports. Bowles said White informed the coaching staff of his status on Saturday morning, which would mean the injury was sufficient to keep him out of the lineup in any capacity. Over the remaining three weeks of the season, the LSU alum’s health and place in the lineup will certainly be worth watching.

“When Devin gets healthy, we’ll rotate the players and see how it goes,” Bowles said of the Bucs’ inside linebacker setup, which includes White, Britt and stalwart Lavonte David (h/t Stroud’s colleague Kristie Ackert). Britt, a fifth-round pick in 2021, has made the only three starts of his career this season. He has set a new personal mark with 24 tackles in 14 games while remaining a core special teamer.

White has filled the statsheet during his tenure, recording at least 124 stops each season between 2020-22. He has amassed 22.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and 18 pass breakups over the course of his career, but those figures have not translated into strong PFF grades. Issues in coverage in particular have hurt White’s PFF evaluation, and Britt’s consistent play in his stead could hurt his leverage during contract talks.

White was reported to be seeking top-five compensation amongst inside linebackers, and the way in which 2023 has played out will make it difficult for him to attain that. Especially if he remains out of the lineup through the rest of the season (or returns as a rotational player, rather than a full-time starter), a departure in free agency would come as little surprise.

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