Devin White has ‘champagne problems,’ Bucs coach says

Co-defensive coordinator Larry Foote doesn’t mince words when talking about the linebacker’s demands for a trade.
Bucs linebacker Devin White hasn't attended any voluntary workouts this offseason and coaches don't know if he'll be at mandatory minicamp next month.
Bucs linebacker Devin White hasn't attended any voluntary workouts this offseason and coaches don't know if he'll be at mandatory minicamp next month. [ ALEX MENENDEZ | AP ]
Published May 3|Updated May 5

TAMPA — Devin White’s demands to be traded by the Bucs because of his dissatisfaction with his contract are “champagne problems,” the team’s co-defensive coordinator says.

“Well, he’s not going to be the first (making such a demand), and he’s not going to be the last. We know that,” assistant coach Larry Foote said Wednesday. “Like I told him, he gets paid $11 million this year.”

Foote said the Bucs would like to have White at voluntary offseason workouts.

“He’s played a lot of ball. He doesn’t need to be here in the spring,” Foote said. “We would love him to be here. But it’s not going to hurt him from the standpoint of playing. But I want him here. I’m quite sure (the situation is) going to be worked out. But that’s part of the business that nobody likes.”

The Bucs picked up their fifth-year option on White’s contract, which will pay him $11.7 million in 2023.

White reportedly is seeking a contract similar to that of Ravens inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension in January, the richest at that position in NFL history.

Foote, 42, played 13 NFL seasons at linebacker, so he has been on both sides of contract talks. He said he wasn’t sure when he expected to see White working with teammates again. The Bucs are in Phase Two of their voluntary offseason workout program and have a mandatory minicamp June 13-15.

While White helped lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl 55 title in his second pro season and is a three-time team captain, Foote said he still has a lot of room for improvement.

“Everything. Just get better,” Foote said. “Pre-snap stuff. Zone coverage. Even blitzing better. Attacking the run. Obviously, we want to look at any explosive plays you gave up, and we want to minimize that. Little things. New ideas that we’re putting in.

“Every year you’ve got to be better than the last year. This league demands it. So far, during (White’s) short career, he’s been involved.”

What would Foote do if White didn’t attend any offseason workouts?

“If that’s the decision he makes, I will be doing all I can to make sure he stays in tune with what we’re doing,” Foote said.

White led the Bucs with 124 tackles last season, and he also had 5½ sacks and two forced fumbles. He has 18 sacks over the past three seasons. But he was inconsistent in some games and took criticism last season for appearing to loaf on a play in a loss to the Ravens on “Thursday Night Football.” Statistics website Pro Football Focus graded him 74th out of 81 inside linebackers in the NFL last season.

Foote and head coach Todd Bowles have been huge supporters of White, 25, through the years, and White is arguably their best player on defense. Linebacker Lavonte David agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason with a chance to earn as much as $7 million with performance incentives. But David is 33, and the Bucs don’t have much depth at the position.

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Foote said White’s desire to be traded is based solely on his dissatisfaction with his contract.

“It’s money,” Foote said. “So, looking at the guaranteed money, you know, he wants his money now. But he’s got to understand, the organization, they’re preparing for next year, so we’ve got to meet somewhere in the middle.

“I don’t know how it’s going to play out. They picked up his fifth-year option. … A lot of players, they don’t get that option. But it’s money, and I understand that. Like I said, he’s not the first and he’s not going to be the last. It’s part of the game.”

Contact Rick Stroud at Follow @NFLSTROUD.

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