Big Decision Day for the Buccaneers and Antoine Winfield Jr


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a laundry list of pending free agents to deal with this offseason. After the news broke Monday that the team has come to terms with wide receiver Mike Evans broke Jason Licht and company turned their attention to safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

As reported by Pewter Report,

“Bucs are making progress on a new contract for Antoine Winfield Jr. that should make him the NFL’s highest-paid safety with an average of at least $20m per year.

If a deal can’t be done by 4pm ET Tampa Bay will use the franchise tag ($17.123m) and continue negotiations.”

The Bucs have options when it comes to Winfield Jr as Pewter Report points out. If the team can get a multi-year deal done for Winfield Jr it will help spread out his cap hit over several years. But if they can’t come to terms on a deal, the franchise tag is actually less than the the $20 million per year currently being negotiated.

Keep in mind, tagging Winfield Jr doesn’t mean negotiations for a long-term deal for the All-Pro safety stop. The team can still re-sign Winfield Jr and simply void the franchise tag. In essence, the franchise tag can be used as a placeholder.

Jeremy Morrow recently dropped a series of articles “Re-Sign or Let Walk” covering the Buccaneers pending free agents. Here’s what he had to say about 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.

Worthy Comparison

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.

Next Move

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.

Final Thought

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.

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