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April 13, 2023

Mailbag: Should the Eagles trade for Buccaneers LB Devin White?

Jimmy Kempski answers your questions as the NFL Draft draws nearer.

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041323DevinWhite Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

Devin White

On Wednesday, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This will be Part I of a two-part mailbag.

Question from @FritzscheJohn: With the Devin White trade request and then saying ‘Green is my favorite color’, I’ve been thinking of a trade the Eagles could make for him. With who they’ve acquired so far, would this move even make sense? How practical would it be (even though Howie wouldn’t, probably)?

This is the tweet John's question is referencing:

The Eagles could absolutely use more help at linebacker, but this is a trade that is very unlikely happen. To begin, the Buccaneers exercised White's fifth-year option last offseason, and he is scheduled to make $11,706,000 in 2023. He is reportedly requesting to be traded because he is unhappy with his current pay.

White made a lot of impressive plays during the Buccaneers' Super Bowl season in 2020, and his speed on the field is unmissable, particularly on blitzes. In four NFL seasons, White has 20.5 sacks as an off-ball linebacker. Derek Barnett was drafted two years before him and he only has 21.5 career sacks.

However, White has been widely criticized by followers of the Bucs for missed tackles in the run game and struggles covering running backs and tight ends in the passing game. He is talented, but he is a flawed player, and it sounds like he expects to make substantially more money than the almost $12 million he is already making. Pass. 

Question from @Kenny_Bacille: More likely to happen, Eagles take Bijan Robinson at 10 or Howie trades for Devin White?

Ya know, in this case, I'll actually take Bijan!

Question from @NR_Garrett: In the trade down from 10 scenario... Which teams have enough draft capital and positional need to move up to 10?

They can all come up with draft capital, whether that's in 2023, 2024, or a combination of both seasons. The teams that are the most likely to move up are the ones that need a quarterback, or help at offensive tackle.

Teams that need a quarterback (some have bigger quarterback needs than others, obviously):

• Titans, pick 11
• Texans (if they don't take one at 2, which they likely will), pick 12
• Patriots, maybe (?), pick 14
• Commanders, pick 16
• Buccaneers, pick 19
• Vikings, pick 23

Teams that need help at offensive tackle:

• Titans, pick 11
• Jets, pick 13
• Patriots, pick 14
• Steelers, pick 17
• Buccaneers, pick 19

It's worth noting that the Titans, who pick 11th (one spot behind the Eagles), have a need both at quarterback and offensive tackle, which means that teams behind them could feel the need to jump to 10 in order to get their guy.

Question from @WalkWithLyle: What would be the nightmare scenario for the Eagles when they pick at 10 and 30 and can’t trade back?

If the top three quarterbacks — Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson — go in the top 9, and nobody picking behind the Eagles in the teens or early 20's is sold on Will Levis, then nobody is coming up for a quarterback. The other bad scenario is if the media is higher on the offensive tackles than the NFL is, and nobody is willing to trade up for one of those guys either.

And then I think at pick 30, you're hoping that either Levis and/or Hendon Hooker are still available, and some QB-needy team at the top of the second round wants to move up to get them. If they're both gone by 30, then the Eagles' chances of getting a premium price decrease.

Question from @TheSmartyJones: I know they love them some offensive linemen, but are they really spending the 10th pick on a guy who might not even start for two seasons?

The three offensive linemen theoretically in play at pick No. 10 are Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), Paris Johnson (Ohio State), and Broderick Jones (Georgia).

Most view Skoronski as a plug-and-play starter at guard. If the Eagles selected him, he could be a starter at RG from Day 1. The downside is that (a) Cam Jurgens has to sit until someone gets hurt, and (b) a guard isn't exactly a great use of resources at pick 10. But his projection to getting playing time is simpler than Johnson's or Jones' would be.

Johnson and Jones are both going to be offensive tackles in the NFL, but they are both thought to be guard/tackle versatile. Johnson played both spots in college, while Jones did not, so he would be a little more of a projection. Both players would likely begin their rookie seasons as backups if the Eagles drafted them, though in many cases they'd be the first player off the bench. 

There are only two ways that either player would have to sit for two seasons:

  1. If they stunk.
  2. If everyone on the Eagles' offensive line stayed healthy and played really well over the next two seasons, and both Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson each decided to play through 2024.

If you take Johnson or Jones at (or near) 10 and the second scenario above plays out, yeah, you had a high pick sit for a couple seasons, but you're also probably going to another Super Bowl.

Comment from @asadphillyfan: Let the teams who don’t have Jeff Stoutland and 4 All-Pro caliber offensive linemen take the top offensive line prospects this year.

Ehhhh... four All-Pro caliber offensive line starters? That might be a little bit of a stretch. Two? Absolutely. (Sorry, I couldn't just let that go before getting to the main point of the question.)

The Eagles probably have the best offensive line coach in the NFL, and I think the argument goes something like, "Why would you take an offensive lineman high in the draft when Stoutland can turn late picks into starters?"

To begin, I think that is wildly unfair to guys like Jordan Mailata and Isaac Seumalo, who have talent and worked very hard for years to become the quality players they are today. It wasn't just Stoutland. I think this argument also forgets that Stoutland helped turn Lane Johnson into the best offensive lineman in the world.

Whatever round the Eagles take an offensive lineman in, they have as good a chance of succeeding in Philadelphia as they do anywhere else. There's a pretty good argument to be made that giving Stoutland an athletically gifted player worthy of a high first round pick makes a whole lot of sense because he'll have a good chance of becoming an elite player for the next dozen years.

Question from @OfficeLinebacker: What one or two players could drop to 10 that would stop Howie from trading out of the pick?

If I'm Howie Roseman, the three players I'm happy to get if I stick and pick at 10 are DT Jalen Carter (Georgia), Edge rusher Nolan Smith (Georgia), and CB Christian Gonzalez (Oregon).

I don't think that Carter or Gonzalez will be there, but Smith may be.

Question from @Footba11Joe: Did we ever get an update on the (Jimmy Johnson) points earned on the Saints' draft day trade last year? I know the 2024 2nd rounder is still out there, but did the Eagles already win the trade even without that?

Here's the trade the Eagles made, with the points for each pick noted (ignoring a dropoff in value for future years): 

Eagles get Points Saints get Points 
18th overall pick, 2022 900 16th overall pick, 2022 1000 
Third-round pick (101st overall), 2022 96 19th overall pick, 2022 875 
Seventh-round pick (237th overall), 2022 Sixth-round pick (194th overall), 2022 12.2 
2023 first-round pick (10th overall)1300   
2024 second-round pick TBD   

The Eagles are already up 410 points, with the 2024 second-round pick yet to be counted.

Question from @Hamiltwan: What happens to Lane Johnson's extended contract (for 5 years?) if he retires after, say, two seasons? Is it like if he got cut or traded, in terms of accelerating the cap hit for signing bonus stuff?

Retirements work in a similar way to releases. Normally, if a player is released, whatever guaranteed salary is left on his deal — and any prorated bonus money that has already been paid out to the player — will remain on the team's salary cap.

If a player retires, he does not get paid his salary (duh) or any roster bonuses, but any prorated bonus money already paid to the player that has not yet counted toward the salary cap will, you know, count toward the salary cap. There have been some occasions in which teams have attempted to recoup signing bonus money after a player unexpectedly retired, but Johnson is already on the record saying that he probably only wants to play two more years, so if he did indeed retire after the 2024 season it would hardly be a surprise. (Also, the Eagles just wouldn't do that to a player like Johnson who has been such a major part of their success over the last decade.)

Anyway, if Johnson were to retire during the 2025 offseason, the Eagles would have a pretty big dead money number on their books. It would be $33,601,000, which could be spread out over two years ($12,408,000 in 2025, and $21,193,000 in 2026) if Johnson filed his retirement papers after June 1.

Question from @Roy_Leonard82: Given that punting was such a glaring weakness the last two years, could you see the Eagles drafting a punter in the late rounds?

The Eagles are only scheduled to make six picks in this draft (we'll see if they can trade back and add more), but for now I think an undrafted rookie free agent signing is more likely. It's also not a great punter draft like last year was. Yes, I just typed, "It's not a great punter draft."

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