News of Devin White’s trade request has polluted Tampa Bay news feeds as of late and the mind can’t help but walk through different potential scenarios that may be in play.
The first thing the Buccaneers will need to do, if they haven’t already, is make a determination on whether or not they intend to re-sign Devin White — a decision that may not be as clear-cut as it seems.
It is fairly clear, as White has been consistent in his messaging dating back pre-draft, that he wants to be paid like a top tier linebacker in the NFL. White’s sheer consistency should deter Tampa away from taking the Baltimore Ravens-esque hardball approach we are watching play out with Lamar Jackson. While the hardball approach is incorrect, so too was the Arizona Cardinals’ approach when they displayed a weak constitution during the Kyler Murray saga. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not see Devin White as a long-term building block that they trust with a large investment, then now is the time to move on.
With potential compensation on the horizon, the Buccaneers have multiple options at their disposal. The team can always decide to look to add talent through the draft. The drafting of Devin White is proof the Bucs don’t have any qualms spending a high pick on the position. For any draft content/potential prospects to watch for be sure to check out and stay tuned in to Bucs nation’s ‘Buccaneers NFL draft target series.’
Another possibility is that the Buccaneers feel they already have an answer on the roster. K.J. Britt is a player whose name was kicked around when there appeared to be a chance the team would be losing superstar linebacker Lavonte David. Britt was drafted in the fifth round two years ago. The team may have drafted him in a precautionary role, fearing the loss or retirement of David. If so, then Devin White’s contractual discontent may be Britt’s time to take an at-bat. In two seasons, K.J. Britt has played in 29 games and has accounted for 25 tackles. This is certainly a limited sample size and it’s unlikely the team would expect a player as unproven as Britt to recreate the production of Devin White over the past four seasons. That does not mean Tampa Bay wouldn’t feel confident Britt is capable of providing a reliable substitute in the short-term. Tampa’s only other inside linebacker on the roster (Not including Devin White and Lavonte David) is 24-year-old J.J. Russell, who has even less professional experience than Britt.
Outside of the draft and immediate in-house options, if Tampa Bay explores trading their disgruntled defender, the team may turn to free agency to find a bandage for their wound. Much of the talent has already been poached from the 2023 free agency pool, but there is still an interesting name and a familiar face on the market looking for a home.
Kwon Alexander was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer from 2015-2018. During that time, he had career seasons of 93, 145, and 97 tackles. The former LSU defender departed from Tampa Bay just prior to Todd Bowles’ arrival in 2019, making way for fellow LSU alumnus Devin White. Though Alexander and Bowles’ paths never crossed, at the bare minimum Tampa Bay represents friendly faces and a familiar environment for the 28-year-old. When Alexander originally left the Buccaneers in free agency it was for the San Francisco 49ers who offered him a hefty four-year contract worth 54 million dollars. After only making it two years into that contract, Alexander found himself traded. He spent his next two seasons with the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints, before winding up on the 2022 Jets. This late in the offseason a player is likely to come cheap, so is Kwon Alexander worth a look?
Bring back Kwon Alexander ‼️‼️‼️ https://t.co/sedNwf3R12— urkel (ORL4LIFE) (@dragonsTBbucs) April 12, 2023
Since leaving the Buccaneers, Alexander has struggled with injuries, playing in less than 13 games in four of his five seasons outside of the Sunshine State. The former Tampa Bay team captain hasn’t recorded anywhere close to the 90+ tackle seasons that had been customary early in his career. 2022 was his first season with the New York Jets and his best outside of the red and pewter. Last season, Alexander played in a full slate of games and had 69 tackles. For the sake of comparison, Devin White had over 120. Obviously bringing in Kwon Alexander would not be an even trade off in production, but you would have a veteran player with familiarity of the city, the division, and the organization, who would likely be on a very team-friendly contract.
Despite any struggles he may have as a head coach, Todd Bowles is an undeniable defensive guru. Who knows what a mind like his could get out of a player like Alexander.