LB Devin White Wants Traded But Pittsburgh Is Unlikely To Be His Destination

On Tuesday, an ESPN report stated that Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White has requested a trade. Since then, I have received a few emails asking if I think the Pittsburgh Steelers could and should trade for White, a first-round draft selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. I figured there were enough people interested in the subject that I should post about it.

For starters, White seems to be unhappy with how contract extension talks with the Buccaneers are going. In fact, ESPN’s Jenna Laine wrote that White is now increasingly frustrated with the team and is “fed up” with how things have gone so far this offseason, presumably as it relates to his contract situation. On the other side of the ledger, however, the Buccaneers do not want to trade him, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Before we move much more forward, let the record show that White had the fifth-year option in his rookie contract exercised last offseason. That means that White is scheduled to earn $11.706 million in 2023 and that amount is fully guaranteed. The $11.706 million is also his 2023 salary cap charge. Unless something changes, White is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March 2024.

In all likelihood, White is probably hoping to sign a new long-term contract extension that will have a new money average of greater than $12.5 million per year. How much greater is anyone’s guess. Currently, Roquan Smith of the Baltimore Ravens is the highest paid linebacker in the NFL at $20 million per year, according to Over the Cap. There’s no way he’ll find a team that will give him that kind of contract, however. A new money average of $13 million would rank White ninth overall on that list, if you are looking for context.

Any team interested in trading for White would first likely need to get permission to talk to the linebacker about a possible contract extension. Then said team would need to talk to the Buccaneers about trade compensation should it first be able to hammer out with White what an extension would look like.

If a team were to indeed trade for White, it would need to have at least $11.706 million in available 2023 salary cap space to accommodate receiving the linebacker in a trade. Technically, a little less than that amount due to Rule of 51 displacement. After a trade is finalized, an agreed to contract extension could be executed and that would likely result in White’s 2023 salary cap charge dropping quite a bit from $11.706 million.

Now back to the Steelers. They currently have $10,488,919 in available salary cap space, pending the details of newly signed defensive tackle Armon Watts and the annual offseason workout bonus placeholder amount of $849,600 being charged. The Steelers would likely need to create a little bit of salary cap space to acquire White via a trade and then sign him to an extension to lower his 2023 charge.

Now that you can see what it would take for the Steelers to trade for White, the next question is if they would be willing to make such a trade? Personally, I really doubt it.

For starters, I don’t think the Steelers will want to have much more cash outlay for 2023 above and beyond what they might have planned for a contract extension for outside linebacker Alex Highsmith later this offseason. A new deal for White, assuming he is looking for a new money average of at least $12.5 million, would require a cash total in 2023 of somewhere around $14 million. That 2023 cash outlay would climb higher related to how much per year White wants his new contract to come in at. Could it get done if the Steelers really wanted him? Sure, there’s always a way.

Next is the fact that the Steelers have already signed two inside linebackers this offseason in Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Those signings make it easy to believe that the Steelers won’t have any interest in adding an even more expensive inside linebacker in the form of White. Sure, Roberts is only really a two-down player, but Holcomb is a player that can stay on the field every down.

White just turned 25 years of age and thus it’s understandable that there will be teams interested in trading for him should the Buccaneers be willing to deal him. He has market value and thus the Buccaneers will likely be looking to get at least a second-round pick in exchange for him. With the 2023 NFL Draft right around the corner, a trade for him would likely need to be put together soon. If White is dealt, however, I find it hard to imagine the Steelers being on the receiving end of it and mainly due to the several reasons I listed.

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