Suddenly, The Door Closes on a Vikings Trade Target

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As the NFL Draft inches closer, trades and rumors of trades will only intensify. Mercifully, the Aaron Rodgers saga appears to have ended. Minnesota’s main in-house trade candidates – EDGE Za’Darius Smith and RB Dalvin Cook – remain in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but both seem likely to be moved.

Focusing on just the NFC North may have hindered fans from seeing that a potential Vikings trade target seems to be staying put.

Devin White, the excellent young LB in Tampa Bay, may be a Buccaneer in the 2023 season. The star linebacker is looking to continue his career elsewhere but may be forced to stick around Tampa for a little while longer.

A Vikings Trade Target

The fine folks at Pro Football Talk relay Todd Bowles’ words about his star defender. Per Tampa Bay’s head coach, Devin White isn’t going anywhere: “We discussed it. We’re not trading him, and we’ll go from there. It’s the offseason right now, and nothing counts. We expect him to be there when the season starts.”

The firmness of the statement stands out. The simple, declarative “we’re not trading him” is a strong message, one that suggests TB is serious when they claim their intention is to keep the 25-year-old in town.

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Vikings fans will remember Rick Spielman’s insistence that he had “no reason” for trading Stefon Diggs before … trading Stefon Diggs. More recently, we think of San Francisco’s John Lynch claiming that the 49ers are simply focusing on Trey Lance being able to “play an integral role on this team.” Some will interpret those words as the kiss of death.

Bowles put himself in a different spot, leaving no uncertainty. Would a massive trade offer change the head coach’s mind? We may soon find out.

Devin White in Minnesota

Minnesota has been connected to White. The team lost Eric Kendricks and hasn’t done very much to replace him apart from signing Troy Reeder. The implication is that there’s hope in Brian Asamoah and (potentially) an upcoming draft pick.

The appeal for White, though, is obvious. Still only 25, White is the rare player who blends youth and veteran experience. He plays off-ball linebacker but can be a terror as a pass rusher.

As a sophomore, White had 9 sacks, 16 QB hits, and 15 TFLs. Making so many plays behind the line of scrimmage underscores the kind of impact he can have. Not too many players at his position can pull off the statistical feat. For reference, Anthony Barr – who was often praised for his pass rushing upside – never surpassed 4 sacks in a season.

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And, of course, we all think of Brian Flores, the new defensive sheriff. Mr. Flores has a reputation by this point in time. He wants his defenders to be ultra competitive, physical, and aggressive. Wouldn’t it be wise to give him a LB who could bring that vision to fruition?

The major issue is cost, both to bring White to town and to extend him. A sizable extension would be a necessity for any acquiring team since the issues likely stem from contract discontentedness.

A Super Bowl champion, Devin White was the 5th selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Since that time, he has made it to a Pro Bowl and been named a second-team All Pro. He’s entering the season with an $11,706,000 cap hit.

Minnesota currently has just a bit more than $1 million in cap space but several options to add plenty of room.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.