This offseason was always going to be a tough one for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Losing Tom Brady to retirement, for good this time, was hard enough, but the team’s issues don’t end there.
Tampa Bay’s biggest struggle this offseason is without a doubt the salary cap. Before free agency, the Bucs were nearly $60 million over the cap, thanks in part to Brady’s $35 million in unmovable dead money. It seemed like the Bucs were heading into a long rebuild without much money to work with.
A few weeks into free agency, that hasn’t proven the case. Miraculously, Tampa Bay managed to retain free agents Jamel Dean and Lavonte David on relatively affordable deals for what they provide. They also brought in Baker Mayfield to compete with third-year quarterback Kyle Trask for the starting job in the post-Brady era.
However, the offseason didn’t come without its losses. To be able to sign these players, and just get under the cap in general, the Bucs parted ways with key veterans like Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, Donovan Smith, Shaq Mason and Mike Edwards, among others. While those losses may not be huge on their own, altogether, they leave a sizable hole on the roster.
The question the Bucs have to ask themselves is, can this current roster contend for a Super Bowl? Considering they had a losing record with Brady in 2022, that answer looks like a no. From that point of view, it might make sense to go a little further into a rebuild. If they do go in that direction, which, admittedly, likely won’t happen this offseason, who could be on the way out in Tampa?
Without further ado, here is one perfect trade the Bucs could make this offseason.
Bucs trade Devin White to Bills for 2023 second-round pick (No. 59 overall), fifth-round pick (No. 137 overall)
Honestly, the Bucs have been very sparsely mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. That includes rumors of trading away players already on the roster, and acquiring players from other teams. With the team seemingly neither rebuilding nor contending, it makes sense why this is the case.
The one exception is star linebacker Devin White, the fifth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. A few weeks ago, White posted cryptic stories on Instagram that fueled trade speculation, although he clarified soon after he was just reflecting on his career to that point. Even after that, though, his name has frequently appeared in trade talks throughout the offseason.
The main reason why the Bucs might consider trading White has to do with his contract situation. White will play the 2023 season on his fifth-year option, carrying a cap hit of around $11.7 million. After that, though, he will likely command a huge extension the Bucs might not be able to afford.
Even if they can, it’s debatable whether or not White would be worth that much. On paper, his stats look great as he racks up tackles like crazy and plays well in the pass rush. However, he has some deficiencies in his game, most notably in coverage. His 45.5 grade from PFF this season is indicative of his struggles.
If, and this is a big if, the Bucs decide they don’t want to give Whit that big extension, then it would make sense to ship him off and recoup some value. It wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, but it’s certainly possible. Rest assured, White would have plenty of suitors if he does hit the trade market.
Of those suitors, the Buffalo Bills might make the most sense. The Bills have been a contender for years now, but are still trying to get over the hump in the postseason. Their defense is rock solid on the line and in the secondary, but aside from Matt Milano, their linebacker room is relatively thin.
If Buffalo wants to address this deficiency, then trading for a young star linebacker like White makes sense. The Bills have the talent on defense to make up for White’s flaws, and could shape him into an even better player. He also brings Super Bowl experience to the table, which, as their signing of Von Miller last offseason would indicate, is something the Bills value.
The idea for this trade comes from the Roquan Smith trade last season. The star linebacker was in line to get a big extension, but the Bears decided not to give it to him. Instead, they traded him at the trade deadline to the Ravens, who did give him that extension.
There are a couple of caveats with this comparison, though. For one, the Bills are facing cap issues as well, so extending White may be difficult. For two, the Smith deal happened at the deadline and not in the offseason. Honestly, this deal feels more likely to happen at the deadline if the Bucs struggle this season.
However, if the Bills want to go all in this season, then this move might make sense. The Bucs would likely prefer to keep White, but it might be difficult given their situation. In that case, this deal makes sense for both sides.
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