Eagles feature

The one thing Devin White has learned to never think about

White believes the Eagles can be his new start, but the linebacker won't overthink it

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Yes, Devin White wants to be in Philly for the long haul.

No, he’s not dwelling on it.

“That’s where I had trouble last year,” he said.

White’s time with the Buccaneers ended in ignominy, when the former Pro Bowl linebacker let his contract situation and lack of an extension affect his play so much he got benched.

He promises he won’t let it happen again. Not now. Not here. 

“It's not on my mind at all,” White said of his current one-year deal. “Last year, I was just trying to be their guy rather than going out there and continuing to have fun with the game and making plays. 

“I think that's where being a great football player comes, when you're out there smiling and celebrating and not really focused on the business side. I feel like if you have fun, the business side takes care of itself, and that was my first time being in a business situation. 

“And I don't think I handled it well. I handled it more like a lawyer than I should have been, just a football player. And now I'm just back to being a football player and smiling every day and just being a light around the building. Just being someone everybody can count on. And that's what I want to hold my hat on this year.”

White was one of the more intriguing additions to the Eagles’ defense this offseason. He’s only 26, he was a 2nd-team all-pro in 2020 and a Pro Bowler in 2021. His 23 sacks since 2019 are most of any NFL inside linebacker over that span and his six forced fumbles are tied for 3rd-most.

A playmaking linebacker? Here?

If this works out, White will be a steal for a team desperate for linebacker help. White was available and cheap. After earning $41.5 million in five years in Tampa, he’s playing this year on a relatively modest one-year, $4 million deal.

Todd Bowles, the one-time Eagles’ defensive coordinator who was White’s defensive coordinator in Tampa for three years and head coach for three years, said at the Combine White needed a change of scenery, and now he has it.

“I don't know if I needed a change of scenery, but I feel like it was definitely good,” White said Wednesday. “You know, a breath of fresh air, to be able to start over and work my way from the ground up.

“There ain't nothing like life-humbling experiences. And I feel like what I went through at the end of last year was very humbling for me and obviously just put me back to the root of everything, where I want to build myself back up. And I know I can do it. 

“I did it coming out of high school. I did it coming out of college. I did it when I first got in the NFL and it's time to do it again. And that's the guy that's always had my back, and if he said that, then I really agree because he knows best. You know, he was a father figure to me still to this day. Checking in on me. 

“And this new scenery is good. I'm with a great organization. I'm around great people every day. I already have a lot of friends on this team so it's good to get a chance to play with them and hopefully I don't have to keep changing scenery.”

So far, White has been the only off-ball linebacker to work exclusively with the first defense. Zack Baun has gotten most of the reps at LB2, with Nakobe Dean working in there at times as well.

But the Eagles are clearly relying heavily on White to settle down a position that other than a year here and there has been unsettled for a long time.

And if this goes well? You could definitely see Howie Roseman locking him up for a few years.

“For me, personally, it's been very fun,” White said. “Coming in and obviously gaining those guys' trust who’ve been here and obviously the new guys, as well. Playing with a lot of dogs, a lot of highly talented players that are coming out of college or that have been in the league. You got the young guys, you got the older guys like Slay, a couple of those guys who've been doing it for a long time. I think it's a mixture of both worlds all over the field. 

“I feel like we could be special together. I think that's kind of been like the carryover into OTAs and minicamp — just having fun and having an identity and a swagger about ourselves.”

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