We’ve talked a lot lately about how the Bucs have many players in their secondary who are in contract years. What will be a huge topic of discussion a year from now is star linebacker Devin White entering the last season of his deal.
PewterReport.com initially reported the news that the Bucs were picking up White’s fifth-year option. The formal announcement came about two weeks ago. With the option picked up, the 2019 No. 5 overall pick is now under contract for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
White made his first Pro Bowl a season ago, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of his play. It felt more like a down year for White, who recorded 128 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 17 games. That’s much lower than his 2020 season totals of 140 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks and two forced fumbles in 15 contests.
The real issue was that White relied too heavily on trying to make the splash play. It would get him out of position when he was too aggressive, and on multiple occasions, he would crash into his own player. Other times he was slow to come off blocks, especially later in the season.
As Bucs fans hope that he can improve this year, White will have a new coach in his ear. Former linebackers coach Mike Caldwell took the defensive coordinator job in Jacksonville, so Larry Foote moves from outside linebackers coach to co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, where he naturally played in the NFL.
Earlier this week, Foote gave his assessment on White heading into the season.
“Well, it’s the NBA playoffs. Sometimes in basketball, you hear, ‘Let the game come to you,'” Foote said. “Playing linebacker, sometimes you want to make more plays and that will get you in trouble sometimes. He’s just got to calm down. I always remind him, ‘You’ve got the goods.’ He’s not a slow linebacker like I was. He’s going to make his plays, he’s just got to trust the defense. Sometimes, you might have a quiet game – it might be a couple of games. You’ve got to stick to the process. He’s going to make his plays. You just stay healthy and play 17 games – you’re going to make a ton of plays.”
One thing that we’ve learned about Foote as a coach over the years is that he’s quite blunt with both the media and his players. When it comes to motivation, Foote can give White a unique perspective on the game that not everyone has. He’s thinking about the long-term future of White’s NFL career.
“I can give him a coach standpoint and I can give him an ex-player standpoint,” Foote said. “As far as – the contract is coming up. Whatever you got to do to motivate him, but I threw that in his ear a little bit. You see the salary cap and stuff like that and what linebackers are getting, so I throw that in his ear a little bit. You want to keep getting better and he is a guy that wants to go down and be great and wants to get a gold jacket one day – you know the physical traits are there, so he’s got to do it upstairs.”