Devin White ready to prove himself on 1-year deal with Eagles

Devin White ready to prove himself on 1-year deal with Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If you turn on Buccaneers tape from the 2023 season, Devin White wants you to know one thing.

That guy in the No. 45 jersey — it’s not him.

Not the real version anyway.

The 26-year-old former first-round pick knows that last season was not his best in the NFL. And after signing a one-year contract with the Eagles, he’s hoping to show the rest of the league that he can still play at a Pro Bowl level.

“It’s great. It’s an opportunity to go show why I was drafted top five, why I helped a team win a Super Bowl. And, obviously, just to prove what I do,” White said on Tuesday afternoon the NovaCare Complex. “I don’t lack any confidence as far as being on a one-year deal. I didn’t shy away from it. I think it was the best thing to happen.

“Hey, last year wasn’t who you were. That’s never been Devin White, in and out on tape, just dealing with everything I dealt with. Now you can get an opportunity on an even bigger stage, it’s a bigger platform here. I think it’s a better all-around team built here. Right here, right now, to go do great things. I just want to be a part of that.”

The Eagles agreed to terms with White last week on a one-year contract that’s reportedly worth up to $7.5 million, of which the base value will surely be significantly lower.

It’s not exactly what White expected to happen a year ago.

“It’s been a roller coaster. A lot happened,” White said of his last year. “A lot of good, a lot of bad. But at the end of the day, I stayed myself. I stayed the same. And I think I found the other side. And I feel like it’s a good side. I got another opportunity to play the game that I love and just have fun.”

The Buccaneers drafted White out of LSU with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 draft and there were some exceptional highs. White was a Pro Bowler in 2021 and the year before he was a key player on a Super Bowl champion.

But this last season didn’t go well. White had been hoping for a long-term contract extension but when it didn’t happen, he played last year on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. And despite a pretty good start to his 2023 season, White suffered an injury against the Eagles in Week 3 and struggled to recover.

By the end of the season, White had lost his full-time starting role and there were public questions in December about his commitment to the team.

“I think just coming into the season, I had a lot of expectations of being the long-term guy there and we didn’t get nothing done,” White said. “I worked my butt off all offseason to go prove it. Go put another great year in. And then the first couple games, I was showing that.

“And then a guy that never got hurt ended up taking an injury, what a coincidence, against the Eagles in Week 3. And really just trying to battle through that mentally and physically. And it just didn’t work out for me. It didn’t end in my favor, but at the end of the day I found the positive side in it and I went back to work.”

During his time in Tampa, White was the Bucs’ MIKE linebacker and wore the green dot while playing next to longtime veteran Lavonte David. So if White keeps that green dot in Vic Fangio’s defense, it’ll mean position switch for Nakobe Dean to the WILL.

While there’s time for the Eagles to figure out how the pieces will fit together, White is looking forward to playing with Dean, whom he once recruited to LSU before Dean attended Georgia. The two have kept in touch since and White thinks they’ll push each other in 2024.

When asked why he decided to join the Eagles, White mentioned culture and his desire to be with a winning franchise.

“They the big dogs around the NFL, so, obviously, I consider myself a big dog,” he said. “That’s what my son say. So I wanted to join the big dogs, trying to help them to get to the goal that they ultimately want. That’s a championship.”

There are plenty of players on the Eagles’ roster who played in Super Bowl LVII but not many left who won Super Bowl LII at the end of the 2017 season. White knows the feeling of being on the last team standing and hopes to bring some leadership to the Eagles too.

Remember: There are reasons why White was available four days into free agency on a one-year deal and that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re setting your expectations in 2024. Some linebackers got multi-year deals this offseason and White wasn’t one of them.

But he’s looking forward to earning one of those deals with his play this season.

“Now I’m here in a great spot, just ready to show who I really am, which a lot of people know,” White said. “I’ve been in the league five years and I did a lot of great things. But none of that matters right now. Right now, I got a clean start. Zero tackles, zero sacks, zero picks, zero wins and I’m trying to go earn it all.”

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