Bucs LB Devin White says trade request 'a little selfish'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Speaking for the first time publicly since requesting a trade this offseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl linebacker Devin White said Monday, "I got a little selfish," but he has returned with a positive attitude and is focusing on the 2023 season.

"I don't think there's no regret," White said when asked about the request. "I don't think it's just about being paid. It's just about being a guy who was drafted here, and doing a lot for this program. Just want to be the long-term guy, you know, just want to be a guy like Lavonte [David]. He was -- he been here forever. I wanted to be that next guy, and you know -- we just didn't make it happen when I wanted to.

"And that's why I kind of got a little selfish, even knowing I still had the fifth-year option and that was a thing in place. And I mean, I guess early on, you don't realize that. You just know, like, 'Hey, I'm at the end of my contract -- let's get it in. Lock me in. I know I feel comfortable here.'"

The Bucs' fifth overall draft pick in 2019 did show up for mandatory minicamp in June but did not participate in practice. Coach Todd Bowles said at the time that it was not a "hold in." Still, White said it really bothered him not being on the field practicing with his teammates as a captain.

He said sitting down with Bowles, whom he called a "father figure," and general manager Jason Licht helped smooth things over. They conveyed their support to him privately and publicly, told him what their plans were for him and identified areas they want to see him improve on. David, a close friend and mentor, also helped patch things up.

A key focus has been on becoming what he calls a "complete" linebacker and not just a blitzing linebacker, which is where he excels. He wants to get the same recognition as the 49ers' Fred Warner and the Ravens' Roquan Smith, and wants himself and David to be regarded as the best linebacking duo in the league. He's worked on his zone drops, his vision, taking the right angles, getting more pass breakups and being around the ball more. He said he's also focused on being the "perfect teammate."

In training camp, White led the huddle from Day 1 but had a quiet first week. It was fifth-round draft pick SirVocea Dennis who notched the first interception of camp for the Bucs' linebacking corps. But White came to life on Friday, a blitz-heavy day, and got to quarterback Kyle Trask more than once. He also knocked the ball away from running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn and got a little chippy with running back Rachaad White after one particularly physical play.

He said he's eager to put this offseason behind him and is focusing on what he needs to do to reach his goals, which include a new contract, for next season. In the meantime, he will make $11.7 million playing on the fifth-year option in 2023 and he's OK with that now.

"It is a business," White said. "It's all business at the end of the day. Business is gonna happen. I hate that it had to happen that way 'cause I love being here. Like I can't overexpress that enough. ... I want to be here. I want to be established here. ... At the end of the day, man, that's over with. I'm on the field. I'm going hard and I'm embraced by all the guys. I'm out there working and making them better. They making me better."

"I believe in they plan," White said. "I believe in they plan when they drafted me, so I'm gonna keep believing they plan. I'm gonna keep working hard and I'm gonna just be me. You know, at the end of the day, man, whatever you do, you just leave it all out there."