Round 3: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB/Clemson
A lot could change about the Bucs defense this offseason, not the least of which is the loss of two key members of the linebacking corps.
Devin White is a free agent at the end of the season and has already gone to great lengths to let it be known that he wants to be paid top dollar. He requested a trade back in April when contract negotiations hit a snag, and while he later rescinded it the point still stands. White and the Bucs have said they want to find a way to continue their relationship, but he’s had an up-and-down tenure in Tampa Bay and $100 million is a lot when there are other more key members of the core that need new deals.
If it’s a matter of paying White or guys like Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr., the decision is not a hard one.
Lavonte David is also a question mark, as he’s both an aging veteran and a guy who could easily sign somewhere else and instantly make a contending defense even better. He’s stated he wants to retire with the Bucs after spending his entire career in Tampa Bay, but that’s a rare thing for a reason.
Even if the Bucs keep one or both guys this offseason, they’ll need to look toward the future and what the position looks like in five years. It very well could be that Jeremiah Trotter Jr is anchoring the unit as the successor to David.
A dream scenario would be David tutoring Trotter and passing him the torch in a few years. The Clemson star has been lights out this year and has NFL lineage that suggests he can be a real difference maker for the franchise. Plus, the Bucs would be collecting younger versions of NFL stars of yesterday like Pokémon cards.