Raiders Pushed to Make Trade for Pro Bowl Linebacker

Devin White, Buccaneers linebacker

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 16: Devin White #45 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a tackle against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

There has been much to complain about for the Las Vegas Raiders this season—quarterback play, coaching, the offensive line, the rookies—and maybe that’s why the mediocrity of the team’s linebackers has gone largely unnoticed.

But the combo of Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo are middling at best, and there is very little depth on the unit. Spillane has taken 269 of the team’s defensive snaps and Deablo has taken 231. Backup Luke Masterson has taken just 30.

If the Raiders are to get themselves back into playoff contention, no doubt, they will need to improve their sagging defense. The Raiders are 24th in points allowed, at 101, and 18th in yardage allowed, at 1,348.

To that end, Bleacher Report sees the Raiders upgrading the Spillane and Deablo unit by going after a potential 2024 free agent: Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, the No. 5 pick of Tampa Bay in 2019, who has started all 66 of his games with the Bucs and earned a Pro Bowl spot in 2021.

White wanted out of Tampa before eventually backing off in the offseason, but there is still an issue between player and team, as B/R noted: “If they were to target Devin White in a trade, they could speed up the process of building this defense for the long haul while also keeping an eye toward the future. The 25-year-old requested a trade this offseason before publicly burying the hatchet with the team that drafted him.”

Turnovers a Major Issue for Raiders

Indeed, one area where the Raiders have fallen especially short this season is forcing turnovers. They’ve done it just once this season, with 10 giveaways on offense—the worst mark in the league.

In the offseason, it was part of the Raiders’ stated goals for the linebackers to improve at creating turnover opportunities.

As Spillane said in the summer: “”At the end of the day, there’s not much difference between a two and a four-yard gain, but when you make those splash turnover plays, those really affect the outcome of games. ‘How can I get my hand on a ball? How can I punch this ball out? How can I get in the passing window and maybe make that quarterback throw a few feet higher in the air, so I give my secondary time to make a play on the ball?’

“Good defenses get PBUs, make tackles, great defenses turn the ball over and score a touchdown. That’s what we’re looking to do.”

White Has a Good Turnover History

As for White, he has always had a good nose for the ball, with nine career fumble recoveries and two interceptions. He has had 20.5 sacks from his linebacking position in his career, too, The Bucs ranked fifth in turnovers forced in each of his first three seasons and are third this year.

White and Bucs put their issues aside when he was given a pay boost back when Tampa picked up his fifth-year option in March, but the bigger problem for the team is that White remains unsigned beyond this year.

The Raiders would do well to push for a deal. As B/R wrote:

“If the Bucs get the sense that they aren’t going to be able to agree to terms with their star linebacker, then they might be interested in trading him for draft capital now.

“That would give the Raiders an opportunity to upgrade the middle of their defense and hit a new level this season.”

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