As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into the offseason we will be going over each potential free agent the team needs to make a decision on. Do the Pewter Pirates “Re-Sign or Let Walk” will be a series of articles analyzing who we think will/should stay and who will be let go to test the free agent market. Up next, defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.
It’s very rare for ANY team to boast that they have the best player in the league at any position. In fact there is typically a debate as to who is the best. But not in this case. Even after Pro Bowl snubs the Buccaneers have on their roster the best safety in the league. Now what should the Buccaneers do with impending free agent Antoine Winfield Jr?
Spotrac asses the value of Winfield Jr at $18.4 million dollars per year for five years. A hefty sum. One that makes you raise an eyebrow. That is unless your a Buccaneers fan. The assessment comes with consideration of a few players to recently sign contracts. The likes of Derwin James comes to mind with a $19 million dollar a year average. Or Minkah Fitzpatrick with an $18.4 million dollar average. So the Buccaneers are going to have to pay up for Winfield’s services to be retained.
Buccaneers fans recognize Derwin James name all to well. especially since much of the fan base pulls for Florida State. Bu the Buccaneers passed on the tremendous talent and got an even better player in Vita Vea. So how does Winfield stack up against Derwin?
With 66 games under Derwin’s belt he has been responsible for eight interceptions, 32 pass deflections, and 11.5 sacks. Add in 497 tackles, 24 for loss, and 22 quarterback hits, it’s easy to see how big of an impact he has had. In comparison, Winfield has played in only seven less games is only behind by one interception, five pass break ups, but has 3.5 more sacks. Additionally he has 384 tackles, 18 for loss, and 21 quarterback hits. So you can see how close these two are.
The biggest difference is James has had two entire seasons marred by injury.
The Buccaneers find themselves with cap space this year. Cap that is quickly going to get eaten up with four other big names to make decisions on. Offering Winfield Jr to be the highest paid safety is not out of the realm of possibilities here. So Spotrac’s assessment is spot on with where this contract will likely land. Now the Buccaneer do not have to worry about other free agent safeties signing anywhere because none have the accolades Winfield Jr has. So they they have some time on their hands.
The Buccaneers have to lock up Winfield Jr for the long haul. A four year contract somewhere between $18-19 million is very likely. If for whatever reason the Buccaneers feel as though the discussions are stalling the franchise tag is wise option. That can put him on the roster for a year while they work things out. Either way Winfield Jr would go no where if I was in charge.