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Jason Licht says Bucs have ‘no intention’ of trading Devin White

The general manager seemed to leave the door open for a possible long-term deal with the inside linebacker, who has asked to be dealt.
 
Bucs general manager Jason Licht listens to a question during his annual pre-draft news conference Thursday at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht listens to a question during his annual pre-draft news conference Thursday at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published April 13, 2023|Updated April 13, 2023

TAMPA — Two weeks before the start of the NFL draft, general manager Jason Licht said the Bucs don’t hold a grudge against linebacker Devin White for asking to be traded.

However, Licht made it clear the team has “no intention” to honor that request and indicated a long-term deal may be possible if White has another good season in 2023.

“We all have all the respect in the world for Devin. He has done some great things for us as a player, and we look forward to more from him in the future,” Licht said Thursday at his annual pre-draft news conference. “So, he’s on our team. We are looking forward to the season.

“We’re gearing up for the season with the draft right now, free agency, and, you know, looking forward to him being a part of this team. And if he has the kind of year that we all think he’s capable of, we can hopefully put this to rest and everybody’s happy.”

White led the Bucs in tackles with 124 last season and had 5-1/2 sacks. But reports surfaced in early March and again earlier this week that White wants a new long-term deal and doesn’t intend to play for the fifth-year club option of $11.7 million.

Licht was asked if thought White’s level of discontent would lead to a holdout.

“You know, I can’t look into the future,” Licht said. “Like I said, we have utmost respect for Devin. And it’s part of the business world of this business, of this job, that we have that I don’t like. But, you know, he’s a competitor. He’s a player. You know, everybody holds him in high regard.

Licht said his feelings toward White haven’t changed.

“This isn’t something I’m holding against Devin,” Licht said. “I still feel he’s a tremendous person. I would never say he’s not the type of teammate we want because of this.”

Licht addressed other topics as well:

The possibility of drafting a quarterback in the first round:

The Bucs had visits with Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and Kentucky’s Will Levis this week. Despite the signing of Baker Mayfield and return of Kyle Trask, Licht said he would not be hesitant to take another young quarterback in the first round, even if he doesn’t play as a rookie.

“It’s the toughest position to find,” Licht said. “It’s the most important position on the team. You see teams that consecutive years take them in the top 10. We have an unknown in Kyle. We have Baker, who’s had some great years, and now we’re hoping that he shows up here this year in that competition and we get the best out of one of them or both of them. But I would not be afraid to take a quarterback, another quarterback, because might as well have another shot at it. Yeah. So, maybe not (to start) this year, but maybe in the future.”

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The need for an offensive tackle:

Even though the Bucs agreed on a one-year deal with former Chargers and Steelers lineman Matt Feiler Thursday, their biggest need is at tackle. They released left tackle Donovan Smith after eight seasons, and there are at least four players at that position that are likely to be selected in the first round: Ohio State’s Paris Johnson, Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright.

“Yeah, those are very hard to find,’' Licht said. “There’s a few good ones that we liked that we’ve spent a lot of time on. Yeah, it’s a little bit more dominant (position) from the beginning of the draft to the end of the draft this year. I think with interior linemen, there’s some very good ones there, too. I mean, we love our offensive linemen, so it’s a position quite possibly we will be addressing, sure. But once again, we have a lot of in-house options as well.”

The deep tight end class, after the Bucs took two last season:

Licht said It’s a deep draft at the tight end position. Rob Gronkowski still is retired, and Cameron Brate was released. Even though the Bucs drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft a year ago, they still could use more in the offense under new coordinator Dave Canales.

“You know, Cade (Otton) could have had 100 catches last year and we’d still be looking at tight end,” Licht said. “It’s great to have, you know,. We love the role that Ko (Kieft) has, and we love the role that Cade has. It’s always good to have, you know, more weapons.”

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