Steelers would be foolish to bite on a possible Devin White trade
By Tommy Jaggi
In the weeks leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers were said to be very interested in two players in the first round: LSU LB Devin White and Michigan LB Devin Bush. In a notably bad draft class and with the way needs lined up from other teams, both linebackers were projected to go inside the top ten picks.
After White went to the Buccaneers with the 5th overall pick, the Steelers traded from pick 20 to pick 10 in order to secure Devin Bush. Now Bush has signed for pennies with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency as Pittsburgh looks to revamp their linebacking corps. It just so happens that White -- the player they may have desired even more -- might become available.
On April 11th, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Devin White has formally requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Immediately following the news, NFL on CBS was quick to put out a tweet showing that White is the only linebacker to earn at least 120 tackles and 15 quarterback hits each of the past three seasons.
On paper, White is a player that is sure to excite you. He's been uber-productive while not missing a game since 2020 and he earned Pro Bowl honors following the 2021 season. However, the Steelers would be foolish to take the bate in a possible Devin White trade.
Steelers should not trade for Devin White
If you have been following White closely, then your thoughts might have been the same as mine. On the surface, there's a lot to like -- he just turned 25 years old, he's productive, he's been healthy, and he's a former top-five draft choice. However, when you dig deeper, you realize that this isn't a player you want to trade for.
Over the past two seasons, White earned overall grades of 35.1 in 2021 and 43.7 in 2022, per Pro Football Focus, thanks to his wild play and inability to defend the pass. While pass defense is a well-known weakness of his game, many fans might not realize that White was also horrific against the run. Last season, he earned a 36.7 run defense grade. In comparison, Bush recorded a 56.4 run defense grade in 2022 and his overall grade of 58.8 ranked him 20 spots higher than White among all NFL linebackers.
But White's disgustingly low grades over the past two seasons aren't the only thing in question here. If the Steelers traded for the reckless linebacker, they would have to take on his base salary. Because the Buccaneers chose to hand him the fifth-year option, White has a substantial base salary of over $11.7 million this year, via Over the Cap -- all of which is guaranteed.
Even if the Steelers had the cap space to pull off something like this (and they don't) I can think of one hundred other ways that I would like to spend nearly $12 million for the 2023 season.
I understand that it's hard to separate the player from the reputation at times, and everybody knows Devin White as a former Pro Bowler with great production. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers can't get sucked into making a foolish decision with a player they loved during the pre-draft process.