Jordan Whitehead is letting it rip on the Buccaneers after settling in with the Jets. Unfortunately, his expectations were way too high.
The Jordan Whitehead “exit interview” on social media is not going the way that most people expected it to go when the Buccaneers didn’t offer the young safety an extension this offseason.
Whitehead is probably justified in feeling raw from the exchange, especially when considering that he was one of the best defenders on the team last season and his price tag was extremely low, but his reasoning behind his disappointment does not seem to be founded in the reasons one would expect.
If he is pissed about not getting another offer, just say that. But concocting this narrative of underuse feels as though the newest New York Jet is grasping at straws.
Whitehead is upset that he didn’t stay on the field for every rep during every game. It is rare to find safeties that play this many reps in the modern game, especially on teams where you have very deep defensive back rooms (at safety at least).
Todd Bowles and the Bucs still found a way to play Whitehead for 88% of the defensive reps. For comparison, Kevin Byard and Jordan Poyer, the two All-Pros at the position in 2021, played around 96% of their defensive reps.
Yeah, it’s different, but is it different enough to be more upset about this than not getting another contract offer?
Jordan Whitehead is a great safety that should still be in Tampa if it were up to this writer, especially on his current deal. But Whitehead isn’t an All-Pro, and the Bucs had an unbelievable safety in the third spot that had an uncanny ability to find the football that the Bills and Titans didn’t have. Finding a way to use Edwards, Whitehead, and the other depth guys is not unrealistic by Todd Bowles and his staff.
Whitehead still got the massive majority of the reps and even saw his usage tick up slightly in the playoffs. This was never a slight from the Bucs. It was an opportunity to make the most of every player on the roster, including a couple of young guys that spent a lot of time on the bench despite performing well on the field.
While the positions are different and their usage is going to be much lower, stars like Vita Vea don’t complain when they come off the field. They need the rest more, but they also understand that there is no need for hero ball in Tampa when you have so many bodies that can contribute.
Much like fresh legs and different skills are a benefit on the defensive line, the league is shifting in a direction that uses players in the secondary in a similar way. Teams that have the talent don’t have to ride their starters the entire game to win.
Different packages and personnel groupings have benefitted the Buccaneers greatly in their run to the Super Bowl and in the playoffs last year, and stopping this practice would actively hurt a defense that has 14 or 15 guys that could start any given week.
Rotational depth is a crucial part of the sport when a team actually has it, and showing an unwillingness to approaching the game from this angle through making comments like this is not how Jordan Whitehead should close the door on his extremely successful Buccaneers career.
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