While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to secure a signature win on Sunday in Green Bay, the status of Pro Bowl linebacker Devin White took centerstage early in the day.
In a surprise move -- and a last-minute one at that -- White was ruled inactive and sat out his third straight game. It wasn't just that White was inactive, it was reports that stated the reason was not related to injury, which whipped up speculation among fans who seem to have cut bait on him with just a few games left in the season.
That might be all the time he gets with the Bucs, as there's a chance he leaves in free agency. White's contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and he's hardly played up to the level he's shown in the past. He wants to get paid, but the Bucs are looking justified for holding off on giving him top dollar this offseason.
All of that context colored the reports that White was being made inactive for non-injury reasons, something that Todd Bowles seemed to shut down in a rather confusing way after the game. White also spoke on what happened in an attempt to clear the air.
Devin White comments on being inactive vs. Packers in Week 15
White talked with the media after the win, including JoeBucsFan, and cited injury as the reason he couldn't play against Green Bay.
“It’s just not healed enough yet,” White said. “I just have to get it more stronger so I am able to do what I do.”
There's been a lot of different things tossed around regarding White and why he really missed the game, but it does truly sound like health was the main factor. While NFL Network and other reporters stated that the decision was not related to an injury, ESPN's Jenna Laine was reporting before the game that her sources indicated that it was injury-related.
That's not the narrative that caught on, though, and it's not hard to see why. Bucs fans are already frustrated beyond belief with the way White has played this year against the backdrop of wanting to be paid top dollar. He soured some folks with his trade request back in April, even though he rescinded and essentially apologized for it a few months later.
Optics aren't on White's side, as the Bucs are 3-0 in the recent games he's missed and K.J. Britt has stepped up in a big way to fill his shoes -- and at a fraction of the price.