Todd Bowles Breaks Silence on Devin White Departure

Devin White

Getty Todd Bowles addressed Devin White's departure on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles explained on Tuesday why it was time for linebacker Devin White to move on.

White’s time with the Buccaneers ended earlier this month when he left in free agency for the Philadelphia Eagles after a beleaguered past two seasons. He requested a trade last spring and held out last summer over contract matters, and White fell short of matching his stellar 2020 performance for a second-straight year afterward.

“I think he needed a change of scenery,” Bowles told reporters at the annual NFL league meetings in Orlando.

Bowles had expressed his support of White in the past — especially amid questions on effort in 2022. However, White — once a playoff hero in 2020 — got benched for the Divisional Round in January against the Detroit Lions.

“I don’t know, he’s a free agent from a business standpoint,” Bowles said on January 22 about White’s future. “I love Devin to death. From a free agent standpoint, I know it’s a business and things have to be out there.”

Devin White Never Looked the Same After Super Bowl Run

Feelings aside, White never looked the same after his 2020 season. That year, he had nine sacks and 97 tackles in the regular season followed by two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in the Super Bowl run.

White regressed in 2021 with just 3.5 sacks, 87 tackles, and one fumble recovery. He only had 13 tackles and two pass deflections in the two playoff games that year.

His 2022 performance dipped to 73 tackles, but he had 5.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries. White also wasn’t a game-changer in the Wild Card playoff loss where he had just five tackles.

Last season, White had a career-low 2.5 sacks, 49 tackles, and no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries in 14 games played. His playoff numbers likewise dropped to three tackles in two games.

Tampa Bay didn’t want to invest the $10.7 million annually as projected by Spotrac in a player who regressed that far and wanted a trade. Philadelphia will take a chance instead with a one-year contract “worth up to $7.5 million” per ESPN.

Devin White Shared Heartfelt Goodbye With Buccaneers

Despite the friction with the Buccaneers, White left in style as he posted a heartfelt message on social media. He spent the first five years of his career in Tampa Bay after the team took him No. 5 in the 2019 draft.

“I’m not sure where to start of how to find the right words to let y’all know the love and gratitude I have for welcoming this cowboy in from the moment my name was called five years ago,” White wrote on X, formerly Twitter on March 15. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career and for that I’m truly blessed and thankful.”

“While my next steps will be somewhere new, my first steps in this league were with you. You will forever hold a cherished place in my heart,” White wrote. “I will never take for granted the time I’ve spent being with you in the community and getting to know so many of you.”

Tune Changes After Eagles Signing

That heartfelt goodbye didn’t last long when White signed with the Eagles as he voiced that he still has it.

“I’m 100 percent healthy. That’s where it starts,” White told reporters on March 19, “I’m back in a great mental standpoint. It’s ‘ball, ball, ball’ — not a lot of other distractions going on, whatever it is — being a father, trying to get a new contract. Right now, it’s just ball.”

“Mentally, I’m in a better position. A fresh-start position. When I came in the NFL, I had no expectations — just wanted to play ball, have fun, and win games. I’m really just back into that mindset,” White added.

Then, White directed his comments — albeit indirectly — at the Buccaneers. The Eagles and Buccaneers will meet in the regular season, and the two could meet in the playoffs again.

“It’s an opportunity to show why I was top-five, why I helped a team win the Super Bowl. To prove. I don’t lack any confidence on a one-year deal,” White said, “last year wasn’t who you were, that’s never been Devin White on tape. …Now you get an opportunity on a bigger stage, it’s a bigger platform here, it’s a better all-around team built right here, right now to do great things. And I want to be a part of that.”