What did cryptic social media posts by Bucs’ Devin White mean?

Instagram posts from the linebacker seemed to suggest his days in Tampa Bay may be coming to an end. Then, he followed up with one that said he’s looking forward to 2023.
Bucs linebacker Devin White created speculation that he might be on the trading block with a series of cryptic Instagram posts on Monday.
Bucs linebacker Devin White created speculation that he might be on the trading block with a series of cryptic Instagram posts on Monday. [ GARY MCCULLOUGH | AP ]
Published March 6, 2023|Updated March 7, 2023

TAMPA ― For some reason Monday, Devin White seemed to think his time with the Bucs might be coming to an end.

In a series of cryptic posts on his Instagram account, the Pro Bowl linebacker appeared to indicate that he had played his last game in Tampa Bay.

The first post featured a photo of White putting on cleats in the Bucs locker room, along with the words “Thank ya,” and pirate flag and peace emojis. The next included an action shot of White playing during a game with a caption that read, “4 year went by fast.”

Finally, White posted a photo of a white sign that read, “God isn’t asking you to figure it out. He’s asking you to trust he already has.” Under the photo was the caption, “Next Stop,” and a checkered flag emoji.

But no sooner had White lit a small fire, creating speculation that maybe the Bucs intended to trade him —they have no plans to do so, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed — than he quickly doused it with a Twitter post indicating he is looking forward to playing with the team in 2023.

“Next year we gone rock out even harder,” he tweeted, “I promise you,” followed by the hashtags GETLIVE45 and GEAUXBUCS, as well as emojis of a face with a cowboy hat and a pirate flag.

Finally, White explained in a response to another tweet, “Reflecting on how fast my first four years went by. Def thanks to Bucs fans “good & mean ones lol,” followed by a face with tears of joy emoji, and “The upside is scary,” along with a flexed biceps emoji.

White, the fifth overall pick of the 2019 draft out of LSU, has one year left on his rookie contract. The Bucs picked up his fifth-year option that will pay him $11.7 million in 2023, and he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

When that happens, he could be looking at an enormous payday in excess of $100 million over five years.

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The Bucs don’t have an abundance of inside linebackers. Lavonte David can become an unrestricted free agent on March 15, and the team can ill-afford to lose White.

Last season, White had 124 tackles, 5-1/2 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. He received criticism for loafing on a play during a 27-22 loss to the Ravens on Oct. 27 but finished the season strong.

In fact, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles has been one of White’s biggest cheerleaders.

“Devin takes a lot of heat for so many things,” Bowles said at the recent NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. ”Everybody talks about missed tackles, but he makes tackles that I haven’t seen linebackers make in 30 years. He can make plays for us. He’s still one of our best two players on defense.”

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