White requested a trade amid a contract dispute with the Bucs, but he now calls it “a little selfish” after the fact. The fifth-year star wants to move forward from the offseason drama and make plays on the field in 2023 for the Bucs.
“Just want to be the long-term guy, you know, just want to be a guy like Lavonte [David]. He was — he been here forever. I wanted to be that next guy, and you know – we just didn’t make it happen when I wanted to,” White told reporters.
“And that’s why I kind of got a little selfish, even knowing I still had the fifth-year option and that was a thing in place. And I mean, I guess early on, you don’t realize that,” White added. “You just know, like, ‘Hey, I’m at the end of my contract – let’s get it in. Lock me in. I know I feel comfortable here.'”
White has been a force on defense for the Bucs in his first four seasons amid 483 tackles and 20.5 sacks. His stellar playoff performance of two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the 2020 season earned even more pedigree.
A No. 5 draft pick by the Bucs in 2019, Tampa Bay gave White his fifth-year option on his rookie deal for 2023. With potential free agency around the corner in 2024, the contract situation between White and the Bucs became messy.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht previously expressed his understanding of White’s wishes, and Licht claimed no plans to trade White. Nonetheless, trade rumors persisted throughout the spring, and White showed up for mandatory minicamp but didn’t participate.
“I don’t think there’s no regret,” White said regarding the trade request. “I don’t think it’s just about being paid. It’s just about being a guy who was drafted here, and doing a lot for this program.”
Devin White: ‘It Is a Business’
White has helped the Bucs through one of the most successful periods in franchise history — a Super Bowl win, two NFC South titles, and three-consecutive playoff appearances. The Bucs will pay White $11.7 million this year to help the franchise keep going strong, but White could command as much as $20.1 million annually afterward.
“It is a business,” White said. “It’s all business at the end of the day. Business is gonna happen. I hate that it had to happen that way ’cause I love being here. Like I can’t overexpress that enough. … I want to be here. I want to be established here. … At the end of the day, man, that’s over with. I’m on the field. I’m going hard and I’m embraced by all the guys. I’m out there working and making them better. They making me better.”
White remains a captain of the team as he looks to help the defense remain one of the top 10 in the NFL. The Bucs allowed 21.1 points per game in 2022 amid the team’s offensive struggles and an 8-9 record.
Devin White Says There’s a ‘Good Agreement’ With Bucs
As for the future, White said discussions with Licht and head coach Todd Bowles resulted in a “good agreement” going forward. White didn’t give any further specifics about contract plans.
“You know, I just wanted to be the guy for a long time, but after really just sitting down with Coach [Todd] Bowles and Jason Licht, and just understanding their plan for me, what they got in play, just coming up with [those] guys just to see how I can be better moving forward, I think we all came to a good agreement. That’s why I’m here, just focusing on the season now.”