Eagles Repeat Major Mistake By Signing Devin White

We've seen this story before, and it doesn't end well.
Sep 25, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) takes the field
Sep 25, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) takes the field / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles had just been throttled by the San Francisco 49ers to fall to 10-2 on the season. They were without top linebacker Zach Cunningham for the game, and their defense gave up 42 points. Clearly exposed for a lack of linebacking depth, they finally signed veteran Shaquill Leonard.

That signing absolutely bombed, and Leonard made no impact while Philly went 1-5 the rest of the way. It turns out that signing a once-great linebacker who had struggled for more than a year leading up to that moment wasn't the answer.

So now it's hard to imagine why signing a linebacker who really hasn't been great since he was in college is the team's plan at this position this offseason.

Devin White is Not the Answer for the Eagles' Defense

I get the appeal of signing former top-five draft picks. It's easy to sell yourself on the potential they once had, and to believe that your favorite team is the one that might be able to finally unlock their potential. Plus, if the move doesn't work out, you can just cut them.

But the thing is, the move almost never works out. How many times have we seen a highly-drafted prospect play terribly early in their career only to break out in Year 6?

White racked up plenty of tackles in his five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tallying 566, never notching fewer than 80 in a season. But when you make 75 starts as an off-ball linebacker, you're going to rack up big tackle totals.

Even his supposedly great season in 2020, when he was named a second-team All-Pro, wasn't actually anything to write home about. He did excel as a pass rusher, his 9.0 sacks were impressive and he was consistently generating pressure. But he was still terrible in both coverage (39.8 grade from Pro Football Focus) and against the run (41.0 grade).

He had a whopping 16 missed tackles that year, and he gave up a 112.6 passer rating when targeted in coverage.

We saw much of the same in 2023. A pass-rush grade of 64.1 is fine, but 56.9 coverage and 30.8 run defense grades aren't going to cut it.

With Zach Cunningham (arguably the Eagles' most valuable linebacker in 2023) gone, how is Devin White supposed to shore up this defense?

Oddsmakers still think Philly has a real shot to win the NFC East in 2024 (though we trail the Cowboys still), but moves like this aren't going to do anything to move the needle.

Howie Roseman better have a plan to continue addressing the linebacker position, because there's no way that White can be the Plan A.

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