The Buffalo Bills have one of the NFL’s best defensive secondaries. Of the five projected starters (we’re counting nickel corner Taron Johnson in the mix), three of them have been named either First-Team All-Pro or Second-Team All-Pro. When all of those starters are healthy, this team is hard to beat.
That’s why it was so devastating last season when one of those starters was lost for the season thanks to a torn ACL. While Buffalo was able to remain stout on defense, finishing first overall in points against, total yards against, and total passing yards against, it became clear that the team was in for some trouble when playing against elite offenses. That trouble reared its ugly head against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two games Buffalo lost in overtime.
Would the Bills have won their first Super Bowl without the injury? There’s obviously no way to tell, but sometimes it feels that way. In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we’ll discuss that defensive player whose health is so important to the team overall.
Name: Tre’Davious White
Height/Weight: 5’11” 192 lbs
Age: 27 (28 on 1/16/2023)
Experience/Draft: 6; selected in the first round (No. 27 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by Buffalo
Acquired: First-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): This season is the first year where White’s four-year, $70 million contract is the official deal on the books, and as a result, his cap hit is the highest on the team. He carries a cap number of $16,403,755 and a dead-cap number of $36.668 million.
2021 Recap: White was in the midst of another stellar season when a torn ACL brought it to a crashing halt on Thanksgiving Night. To that point, he had played in 11 games, making 41 tackles, deflecting six passes, and securing one interception. He also had half a sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one tackle for a loss. When opposing quarterbacks dared to throw his way, he held them to just a 51.6% completion rate, allowing a career-low 9.9 yards per catch and a career-low 5.1 yards per target. If there’s a negative, it’s that he was credited (charged?) with ten missed tackles, also a career high.
Positional outlook: White will be CB1 when he’s back to full health, but it won’t be Levi Wallace lined up across from him. It will either be Kaiir Elam or Dane Jackson, or potentially even Christian Benford, who has turned heads at training camp thus far. Taron Jackson will operate out of the slot, as will Cam Lewis and Siran Neal. Nick McCloud, Olaijah Griffin, Ja’Marcus Ingram, Tim Harris, and Jordan Miller
2022 Offseason: White is on the PUP list currently as he continues rehabbing that ACL injury. He’s making solid progress, according to all the relevant parties, and ESPN published a piece (that’s available to ESPN+ subscribers at this link) suggesting that White is expected back practicing sooner rather than later.
2022 Season outlook: Call me a deluded homer if you’d like, but I will go to my grave thinking that, if Tre’Davious White doesn’t tear his ACL on Thanksgiving, the Buffalo Bills are your Super Bowl LVI champs. Think about it—head coach Sean McDermott doesn’t turtle in the AFC Divisional Playoffs after Gabe Davis scores his first game-winner since he has his best corner on the field. Even if Tyreek Hill breaks away and scores, there’s no way that “13 seconds” happens if White is on the field, right? RIGHT? So much for the 2022 season outlook in this space, eh?
Moving forward, the team’s success this year may not directly hinge on White’s hinge joint, but it definitely takes them from a team that has a great defense to a team that could absolutely dominate with its defense. When you combine that with the fact that Buffalo is good enough to dominate with its offense, too, this Bills team is scary good. White is a huge part of what this squad does, and the sooner he’s ready to roll, the better the team will be. For the record, I’d be okay with Buffalo working him back very slowly, perhaps going so far as to limit his snap counts through the first half of the regular season before seeing what he can do in November and December as a full-time player. Jackson is having a strong camp, and Elam’s physical prowess suggests that, with some seasoning, he could develop into an elite player. A healthy Tre’ White takes this team to the next level.