Bucs, S Antoine Winfield Jr. Making Progress On Contract Talks?

The Buccaneers have already taken one major priority off their to-do list. A new deal is in place for wideout Mike Evans, and the same could soon be true of safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

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The latter has long been considered a franchise tag candidate as the expiration of his rookie contract approaches. Tampa Bay has until tomorrow afternoon to apply the one-year tender, which will cost just over $17MM. After delivering a first-team All-Pro campaign last season, though, Winfield could command a higher price on a long-term pact. On that note, Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline reports traction was gained on a new deal during last week’s Combine.

Pauline adds that the sides are “zeroing in” on an agreement which will check in at an annual average value of $20MM on a three- or four-year pact. That would allow Winfield to reset the top of the safety market, overtaking Derwin James ($19MM per season) as the highest-earning player at the position on an annual basis. Such a deal would also allow the Buccaneers to keep one of the foundational members of their defense in place for years to come and avoid having to use the franchise tag.

Winfield already had a Pro Bowl on his resume entering the 2023 season, but he upped his market value considerably over the course of the year. The 25-year-old set a new career high in tackles (122), interceptions (three), pass deflections (12) and sacks (six) while leading the league with six forced fumbles. Those figures have him on track to secure a major raise on his next pact, either one negotiated following the application of the tag or a deal hammered out in the immediate future.

Players who are tagged can continue negotiating with their respective teams until July 15. If no deals are reached by that point, they are required to play out the season on the tag (or, as Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs demonstrated last offseason, a one-year deal taking its place). Winfield’s case will be one to watch closely as the franchise tag deadline approaches, particularly if he and the Bucs are indeed moving toward a long-term agreement.

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