Tristan Wirfs

Buccaneers Tried To Trade Up Higher For Tristan Wirfs

A large part of the reason the Buccaneers were able to pull off their Super Bowl run was the stellar protection Tom Brady got throughout the playoffs. One of the main reasons Tampa’s O-line saw so much improvement this year was the drafting of right tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first-round last April. 

The Bucs traded with the 49ers to move up one spot in the draft from 14th to 13th and select Wirfs. Speaking on a recent episode of the Pewter Report Podcast, Bucs GM Jason Licht revealed he tried to trade up much higher to get his guy.

I was stunned,” Licht said about Wirfs slipping that far to them. “I saw him starting to fall. I was trying to go and get him, well, even higher than nine and nobody wanted to make any deals and I think we made the first trade of the pandemic at-home draft.” Licht explained how he believed there was another team below them looking to trade with the 49ers and take Wirfs. Fortunately for Bucs fans, Licht says San Francisco was worried they’d miss out on Javon Kinlaw if they moved much lower than 14th, so they took the deal from Tampa.

Licht wanted to move into the top ten, but ultimately only had to give up a fourth-rounder to move up the one spot. Had he succeeded in getting into the top nine picks or so, he would’ve had to part with a lot more draft capital than that.

Wirfs ended up being one of the best rookies in the league this season, and looks like he’ll be a high-end starter for many years to come.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers, Tristan Wirfs Agree To Deal

Tampa Bay agreed to terms with its projected right tackle starter Wednesday. Tristan Wirfs is now in the fold for the Buccaneers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The fully guaranteed deal tethers Wirfs to the Bucs through 2023, with the fifth-year option covering 2024.

The Bucs traded up one spot, from No. 14 to No. 13, with the 49ers to nab the Iowa blocker. Wirfs was viewed as one of this draft’s top four tackles. He ended up going fourth out of that group, but he is in position to play a key role for the highest-profile Bucs team in at least 17 years.

Wirfs primarily played right tackle for the Hawkeyes, which will make this an easier transition compared to some of his first-round tackle brethren. He blazed to a 4.85-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, doing so despite weighing 320 pounds. Wirfs also set Combine O-line records for the vertical (36.5 inches) and broad jumps (10 feet, 1 inch).

The Bucs opted not to re-sign longtime right tackle starter Demar Dotson, who remains in free agency. Dotson was the Bucs’ primary right tackle for the past eight seasons, but Wirfs is now on track to join left tackle Donovan Smith in Tampa Bay’s starting lineup.

Here is the Bucs’ 2020 draft class:

1-13: Tristan Wirfs, T (Iowa): Signed
2-45: Antoine Winfield Jr., S (Minnesota)
3-76: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB (Vanderbilt)
5-161: Tyler Johnson, WR (Minnesota): Signed
6-194: Khalil Davis, DT (Nebraska): Signed
7-241: Chapelle Russell, OLB (Temple)
7-245: Raymond Calais, RB (Louisiana): Signed

West Notes: 49ers, Dissly, Raiders

With DeForest Buckner‘s asking price starting at $20MM per year, the 49ers gave the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s agent permission to seek a trade at the Combine, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Lynch told Joel Segal, Buckner’s agent, that the four-year San Francisco starter had earned a megadeal. But in order for the 49ers to sign off on a trade, a first-round pick had to be involved. Segal found a taker in the Colts before the Combine’s conclusion.

Not only did he bring back a first-round pick, he brought back the 13th pick,” Lynch said. “And then, it’s like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t think he’d do that.’ By that point, you start looking at how we can keep our team together. And I guess a long story short, it’s not something we wanted to do, but at a certain point, we felt like that was the best decision.”

The 49ers opted to extend Arik Armstead at $17MM per year, instead trading Buckner to the Colts and drafting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw 14th overall. Buckner signed a $21MM-AAV deal with Indianapolis. Here is more from San Francisco as well as some news from the AFC West:

  • Lynch called Ron Rivera before the draft, hoping to finalize a Trent Williams trade before the virtual event began, Breer adds. The Redskins HC informed the 49ers GM “too much interest” was coming Washington’s way for the long-disgruntled tackle to have a trade done before the draft. While the 49ers rated Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs rated “incredibly high,” they preferred Kinlaw in an effort to keep their defensive line as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups. Allowing the Buccaneers to draft Wirfs at No. 13, via one-slot trade-down, preceded the 49ers winning the Williams sweepstakes. Rivera called Lynch Saturday morning to inform that San Francisco’s Friday offer of third- and fifth-round picks was enough to close a deal, according to the 49ers GM.
  • Will Dissly has suffered season-ending injuries early in each of his two NFL campaigns. The Seahawks are not ready to give up on him, however. Despite Seattle signing Greg Olsen and drafting Colby Parkinson in Round 4, Dissly is a roster lock — as long as he’s healthy — according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Regarding Dissly’s health, he fully expects to be ready for training camp, per Omar Ruiz of NFL.com (video link). A 2018 fourth-rounder who has played in just 10 NFL games, Dissly suffered an Achilles tear in October of last year.
  • The Raiders are not looking to move Lamarcus Joyner back to safety. They hope to keep the ex-Rams safety as a slot corner, to the point it affected the team’s pursuit of All-Decade defender Chris Harris, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Raiders were in on Harris, but the ex-Broncos slot standout preferred the Chargers to the Raiders.
  • The Seahawks, whose top two running backs are recovering from injuries, are not closing the door on another Marshawn Lynch contract.

NFL Draft Rumors: Vikings, Jags, Redskins

The Vikings have “done a lot of work on” Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link), but Minnesota may have to move up in Round 2 in order to land him. Per Wolfson, the Vikings may need to get ahead of the Jaguars at No. 42 if they want to grab Cleveland. Minnesota’s second-round pick doesn’t come until No. 58 overall, so general manager Rick Spielman would need to work some magic in order to move up. Luckily, the Vikings have 12 picks remaining in the draft that could be used as trade ammunition.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • Speaking of the Vikings and offensive tackles, the ideas of Minnesota acquiring Redskins tackle Trent Williams and moving up in Round 2 aren’t mutually exclusive, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets. Washington wants draft capital it can use this year, and while the club has been asking for a second-round pick, the Redskins could also accept a combination of selections that add up to the value of a second-rounder, per John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Minnesota could use any number of those aforementioned 12 remaining picks in order to patch together an offer for Williams.
  • Two clubs were attempting to move into the Buccaneers‘ No. 14 slot in order to land Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs, which prompted Tampa Bay to move up one spot into No. 13 and take Wirfs for themselves, reports Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Presumably, the Bucs figured teams moving to No. 14 would also be trying to move to No. 13, which was held by San Francisco. Instead, Tampa Bay shipped a fourth-round pick to the 49ers and added Tom Brady‘s new right tackle.
  • When the Raiders‘ first came on the clock at No. 12, the club’s initial discussions involved offensive tackles, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. Oakland’s interest in tackles is a little puzzling, as it already has 2018 first-rounder Kolton Miller on the left side and the high-priced Trent Brown on the right. Eventually, the Raiders settled on Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs.

49ers Trade 13th Pick To Buccaneers

We’ve finally got our first trade of the evening. Plenty of teams in the top ten were listening to calls, but apparently nobody got an offer worth taking.

The 49ers are making the first move, trading back one slot with the Buccaneers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). In order to get the 13th pick Tampa will send the 14th pick and the 117th pick, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The 49ers will also send back the 245th pick as part of the deal.

The Bucs are using the selection to add some protection for Tom Brady, as they’re drafting Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs with the pick. San Francisco previously didn’t have any picks in the second, third, or fourth-rounds, so they were widely expected to explore trading down from one of their two first-rounders.

They are also currently scheduled to pick 31st later tonight, and GM John Lynch clearly wanted to get an extra mid-rounder. Since the Bucs are only moving up one spot, it’s likely the 49ers were threatening to move the pick to a different team who also wanted a tackle like Tampa did.

Poll: What Will Giants Do At No. 4?

While the variance in this draft’s top three picks may be low, the Giants could go in a number of directions at No. 4 overall. They have been connected to several different strategies.

Picking in the top six for the third straight year (after never landing there from 2005-17), Big Blue has needs at a few places. The Giants could use help on the offensive line and at outside linebacker and safety. Based on the organization’s history and Dave Gettleman‘s impossible-sounding track record featuring zero trade-down maneuvers in seven drafts as either the Panthers or Giants GM, the Giants would be expected to hold their pick at No. 4. But noise about the team moving down has emerged.

Gettleman said this week he is seriously entertaining the prospect of moving down — something he did not strongly consider the past two years when the Giants took Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. The Giants may be going as far as planting a seed about Justin Herbert interest. Gettleman was believed to be higher on Herbert than Jones last year. But with only two teams in the past 38 drafts using back-to-back first-round picks on quarterbacks — the 1982-83 Baltimore Colts and the Cardinals in the past two years — teams do not appear to be buying this.

With Chase Young a lock to be off the board by No. 4 and the Giants not expected to take a cornerback that high, they may be down to tackle or Clemson do-everything defender Isaiah Simmons. The Giants have not gotten what they paid for in Nate Solder and signed stopgap right tackle Cameron Fleming. The latter, however, could be used as a swing man — as he was in New England and Dallas — to open the door for a rookie to start at right tackle.

Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs has been linked to the Giants for several weeks. However, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, massive Louisville blocker Mekhi Becton and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills loom as possibilities as well.

The Giants are evaluating Simmons’ fit. He played everywhere from off-ball linebacker to safety to edge rusher to slot cornerback at Clemson. That kind of rare versatility prompted ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold to label him the draft’s top prospect.

While Simmons could help the Giants in multiple areas, Gettleman has preached offensive line development since arriving in December 2017. They also would be in a better position to address their edge rusher need with more picks, hence the greater interest in trading down.

So where what will the Giants end up doing at No. 4 overall? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Shenault, Wirfs, Simmons

After undergoing core muscle surgery earlier this year, Colorado wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. is almost fully recovered. In a letter sent to all 32 NFL teams, Dr. William Meyers stated that the receiver will be back to 100% by next week.

“I watched Laviska go through regular football drills yesterday at 5 1/2 weeks postop and he looked terrific,” the doctor stated (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). “I believe by April 25, 2020, he will be at 100% for full football activities.”

The receiver decided to undergo surgery following an underwhelming 40-yard dash time. Shenault went under the knife in early March, and recovery was expected to take at least one month.

The 6-foot-1, 227-pound wideout has been on the draft radar for a while, beginning with a 1,011-yard, nine-touchdown 2018 sophomore season. His stats dropped a bit in 2019, but the receiver could still be taken towards the end of the first round.

Let’s check out some more draft notes…

  • The Giants are among the teams in the top-10 that have done extensive research on Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter). Wirfs seems like a logical target for New York if they end up trading back, but Fowler hints that the Giants could also simply take the lineman with the fourth-overall pick. We previously heard that Dave Gettleman “loves” the 6-5, 322-pound lineman. Our own Zach Links profiled Wirfs earlier this week.
  • Isaiah Simmons made his name as a linebacker at Clemson, but many teams have told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) that they see his future at the safety position. Simmons certainly has the versatility, as he played both positions (along with defensive end and cornerback) during his time in college. Simmons finished last season with 67 tackles, seven sacks, and three interceptions, and there’s a good chance he’ll be a top-10 pick in next week’s draft.
  • The Colts may target a signal caller in the draft, but GM Chris Ballard says he won’t “force the quarterback position,” (Twitter link Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star). “It’s got to be the right guy, the right fit,” Ballard continued. “I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe two years from now.” The Colts inked veteran Philip Rivers to a one-year contract this past offseason, and they’re still rostering Jacoby Brissett.

Jets Eyeing OL At No. 11?

It’s no secret that the Jets could use some help at wide receiver. And, with the No. 11 pick, they could have the opportunity to take CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, who stand as the cream of a rich WR crop. Meanwhile, they also need to protect quarterback Sam Darnold (and his spleen), so they could opt for offensive line help in the first round. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, the Jets have done their homework on this year’s top big men. 

[RELATED: Jets Could Also Start The WR Run At No. 11]

Before the travel restrictions, the Jets had dinner and a private workout with Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, per Pelissero. He also hears that they’ve hosted Louisville’s Mekhi Becton on a top 30 visit and Zoom-chatted with Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. They’re the four best offensive lineman in this year’s class, so there’s no guarantee that any of them will slip to Gang Green. Thomas has also garnered interest from the Dolphins (No. 5), Pelissero hears.

Of that quintet, Wirfs is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready. He also offers serious athleticism for his size (6’5″, 320 pounds), plus versatility. At Iowa, he played primarily at left and right tackle. Pro scouts also believe that he has the ability to move inside and play guard.

The top 10 already has teams in need of line help and other teams are contemplating trades to land one of this year’s best OLs. The Bucs and Broncos have serious interest in moving up the board and they could leapfrog the Jets on Thursday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Tristan Wirfs

Quality offensive line talent is hard to come by in today’s NFL, but this year’s class is surprisingly strong in that area. Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, potentially, could be the first one off the board.

At 6’5″ and 320 pounds, Wirfs offers uncommon athleticism for his size. Wirfs put those skills to good use for the Hawkeyes, earning Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in 2019. In college, he primarily lined up at right tackle, though he also offers experience on the left side, and some say that he can also work on the interior as a pro.

With a reported 40-yard-dash time of 4.85 seconds and a 625-pound max squat, Wirfs has scouts drooling over his potential. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. are also pushing to be the first tackle selected, but Wirfs is widely viewed as the most NFL-ready of the bunch.

In all likelihood, the Bengals will kick off the draft by selecting LSU’s Joe Burrow, followed by the Redskins grabbing elite defensive end Chase Young at No. 2. The Lions, at No. 3, are entertaining offers to trade down; any team that moves up will probably use that choice to take a quarterback, or something other than an offensive lineman. But, Wirfs, Wills, and Thomas are all thought to be possibilities for the Giants at No. 4, provided that they don’t move back in the order.

A trade down would make sense for the G-Men, who are also on the hunt for pass rushers, centers, and safeties. However, history suggests that Dave Gettleman will be inclined to stand pat – in five drafts with the Panthers, and two drafts with the Giants, he’s never moved down from his first-round pick. Even if he passes on Wirfs, the Iowa standout won’t have far to fall. The Cardinals have some serious holes to plug on the O-Line as they aim to protect Kyler Murray – with the ability to play on the inside and outside, the No. 8 pick may represent Wirfs’ floor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Giants, Wirfs, Morgan, Jets, Bailey, Edwards

There’s been a ton of discussion about the top three picks in the upcoming draft, but the Giants have been flying slightly more under the radar at number four. While we’ve heard that New York loves versatile Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, the “consensus of sources” that Ralph Vacchiano of SNY spoke to was that the Giants will take an offensive tackle with the fourth pick. Vacchiano adds that they will “quite possibly” take another offensive lineman in the second round. If they did that, it would “likely be a center,” he adds. As for which tackle the Giants will take in what is widely regarded as a strong tackle draft, sources told Vacchiano that Giants GM Dave Gettleman “loves” Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.

Here’s more from around the league as the draft rapidly approaches:

  • We know all about the top quarterbacks available, but James Morgan is an unheralded name who has been picking up steam lately. We heard last week that the Patriots were sniffing around and that a handful of other teams were interested in the FIU passer as well. Morgan is “pushing to be a mid-rounder” and has been interviewing well, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapoport also notes that Morgan was interviewing with the Jets on Wednesday. Morgan completed only 58 percent of his passes last year with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions, but his numbers were much better the season before. He appears to be one of this draft’s late risers.
  • Former Purdue linebacker Markus Bailey got some good medical news, as Rapoport tweets that he recently had his combine re-check and was cleared by the Cardinals’ team doctor. Bailey tore his ACL for the second time back in September. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report had him as a fifth-rounder in his most recent mock draft, but maybe this news will boost his stock a little bit.
  • Speaking of good medical news, Rapoport tweets that former South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards also got some. Edwards fractured the fifth metatarsal in his foot just before the combine, but is now out of his boot and “moving around well,” according to Rapsheet. Rapoport adds that teams have been sent updated scans of his foot, and all appears to be well. Miller had Edwards going early in the fourth-round to the Jets in that same mock draft.