TAMPA — Devin White stirred the trade winds with his demand to be dealt this offseason, but it may have been just a lot of hot air.
The Bucs linebacker was a no-show during the team’s first week of organized team activities. But don’t place too much stock in that.
Linebacker Lavonte David, cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis, center Ryan Jensen, defensive tackle Vita Vea and receiver Mike Evans also were among the veteran starters who did not attend the voluntary workouts.
On the other hand, receiver Chris Godwin, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and tackle Tristan Wirfs did attend.
“We had a good turnout, but again, it’s voluntary,” coach Todd Bowles said. “I can express it all I want, but it’s voluntary. Certain guys have excuses. We know where they are, and we’ll go from there.”
Remember, the Bucs’ last starting quarterback — Tom Brady — was a vocal opponent of the workouts and gave an impassioned plea to players to stay strong and not participate in them during a conference call with the players association. He argued that no professional baseball player is throwing 95 mph in mid-December.
However, the Bucs believe that White plans to attend the mandatory minicamp June 13-15.
White has been unhappy about the Bucs’ unwillingness to sign him to a long-term extension. The Bucs picked up the fifth-year option on his contract that will pay him $11.7 million in 2023.
Apparently, White is not willing to continue playing what could become an expensive game of chicken.
In 2022, the maximum fine for missing the first day of mandatory minicamp was $15,515. The second missed day cost $31,030, the third $46,540, up to a total of $93,085.
If White were to continue a holdout into training camp, it could cost him $40,000-$50,000 per day.
He is coming off another solid season in which he led the Bucs with 124 tackles and had 16 quarterback hits, 8 tackles for loss, 5½ sacks, 5 pass deflections and 2 forced fumbles in 17 starts. But his play earned a grade of just 45.5 from statistics website Pro Football Focus.
The Bucs want to see more consistency before considering whether to offer White the five-year, $100 million contract that linebacker Roquan Smith signed with the Ravens a year ago.
In the meantime, White’s absence from the voluntary workouts provides more reps for a couple of young, promising linebackers: SirVocea Dennis, the Bucs’ fifth-round drat pick this year, and undrafted free agent Jeremy Banks.
White’s teammates aren’t weighing in on the dispute.
“To be honest, we don’t really think about it, because we all understand it’s a business,” Godwin said. “You know Devin loves ball. You know what Devin brings to the table. But we also know it’s a business. However he feels like is the best way to go about it, that’s for him. But when he’s here, we expect him to work, and we know what he’s going to bring.”
Trask looks ‘different’
The quarterback competition between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask is underway, and both players looked efficient in the first workout Tuesday.
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“I think anytime you have a new quarterback, it’s different,” Godwin said. “Obviously, we don’t know who that guy is going to be yet, but it doesn’t feel weird. It just feels like you’re getting reps with a bunch of guys, so I get to work on my own skill development, get to work with the receivers, and for us, we’ve got to handle our business regardless of who is throwing us the ball.
“I think Kyle and Baker have done a great job so far. It’s like a friendly competition.”
Godwin said Trask, entering his third season with the Bucs, is performing with more confidence and showing more leadership, the result of Brady’s second retirement (this time “for good,” Brady has said).
“I think the biggest thing with Kyle is you can tell his confidence is much higher,” Godwin said. “Obviously, when you’re the third (quarterback), and especially when you’re behind a guy like Tom Brady — the greatest of all time — you don’t ever want to step on anybody’s toes by trying to be too much of a leader or whatever.
“So, now Kyle comes into an opportunity where he has a chance to compete for a starting job. It’s like he’s trying to step forward being a leader, and you can tell that he feels confident in that. It’s really cool to see guys kind of grow into their own, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Contact Rick Stroud at email@example.com. Follow @NFLSTROUD.
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