Buccaneers not close on extension with All-Pro tackle

buccaneers not close on extension with all-pro tackle

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.

With the Antoine Winfield Jr. extension taken care of, one crucial financial priority remains for the Buccaneers this offseason. Left tackle Tristan Wirfs is in line for a new deal of his own, and that has driven his decision to remain away from the team at this point.

The latter is absent from OTAs, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports. Several players seeking new deals have followed suit to begin the week, and Wirfs certainly has a case to command a lucrative new deal. The three-time Pro Bowler has been present for other offseason workouts, head coach Todd Bowles confirmed (via Greg Auman of Fox Sports). It would be no surprise if Wirfs were to remain absent until a deal is struck.

On that note, Fowler adds team and player are not close to an agreement. Wirfs began his career at right tackle, but the decision to move on from Donovan Smith last offseason paved the way for a move to the blindside. The Iowa product excelled at his new position in 2023, upping his market value. Wirfs is set to collect $18.24M this year on his fifth-year option, but the top of the tackle market is far more valuable.

Bucs GM Jason Licht said in March that the team and Wirfs’ camp had engaged in discussions. At the time, the standout tackle was not the team’s top priority. Those comments came as the Bucs attempted to re-sign Winfield, Baker Mayfield and Lavonte David. Each of those deals coming to fruition vaulted Wirfs in the Bucs’ extension queue.

Three years after an offseason in which the Bucs brought their entire starting lineup from Super Bowl LV back for a title defense, the team has rivaled that retention effort by re-signing Winfield, Mayfield, David and Mike Evans. Wirfs's contract for 2024 gives the team time, but the 2020 first-rounder is a high priority given his performance through four seasons.

Tampa Bay moving Wirfs to the left side stands to help his market, but the Lions making right tackle Penei Sewell, the NFL’s highest-paid O-lineman, will also impact Wirfs' market. Wirfs, 25, has three Pro Bowls on his resume — including one at LT — along with first- and second-team All-Pro nods. Sewell is now tied to a $28M-per-year contract, while Laremy Tunsil‘s $25M-AAV pact leads all LTs. Sewell also received $85M guaranteed in total, topping all tackles in that category.

Holding exclusive negotiating rights with Wirfs until March 2025, the Bucs would have the franchise tag to deploy if talks stalled ahead of free agency. Past and present Bucs retention efforts, however, would present pretty good odds this situation will lead to an extension at some point.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

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