How soon will Buccaneers get deals done with Antoine Winfield Jr., Tristan Wirfs?

There are two pretty major things the Buccaneers still need to take care of.
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

Despite what some of the critics might say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a pretty successful offseason.

Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans, guys who were Top 20 free agents, were brought back on reasonably priced deals while the Bucs made other moves to re-sign key players. Lavonte David, Chase Edmonds, and Chase McLaughlin all returned, and even Jordan Whitehead came back for another tour after spending the last few seasons with the New York Jets.

The work isn't done yet, though.

While the Bucs brought back two very important pieces of the roster in Evans and Mayfield, the two best players on the team still need new deals. Antoine Winfield Jr., who had a career year last season and is only getting better, entered the offseason without a contract while Tristan Wirfs is set to become a free agent next offseason.

Both are not only the best players on the team but arguably the best players at their position in the entire league. It shouldn't be a question of if a deal will get done, but rather how soon will the Buccaneers give them new deals.

Buccaneers need to get deals done with Antoine Winfield Jr., Tristan Wirfs soon

While speaking with the media this week, general manager Jason Licht addressed where things stand in talks with Wirfs and Winfield, and it seems he's not too worried.

“We’ve had really good discussions there,” Licht said. “Once again, it’s like the same thing when we were at the combine talking about Baker [Mayfield] and Mike [Evans] and Lavonte [David]. We really want them here, we want them here long term, I think they want to be here long term. We’ve had a good track record of getting things done. I feel pretty good about things getting done.”

That's the confidence of a man who knows exactly how this is going to end.

If the Bucs somehow let Winfield or Wirfs get away, just pack it up and contract the franchise. We're talking about pillars of the franchise in those two guys and they must remain key pieces of the core for their entire careers.

So much was made about Mike Evans wanting to retire a Buc and the same goes for Lavonte David. Both Wirfs and Winfield can follow in their footsteps, and Tampa Bay needs to make sure it pays up to ensure that happens.

Things are already trending in that directions.

Winfield was franchise tagged this offseason with the idea being it extends the negotiating window until July. If a deal doesn't get done before the deadline, he's simply going to get tagged again next year and the process will restart.

The incentive to get a deal done with Winfield this offseason is that it allows the Bucs the same safety net with Wirfs in 2025. Assuming a deal can't get hammered out ahead of time, Tampa Bay could tag Wirfs and then work out a deal later -- just like with Winfield.

In absolutely no scenario should either of them hit the market, let alone put on another uniform.

Licht has worked hard to change the culture and it's finally starting to stick. Winfield and Wirfs are critical to that continuing. Wirfs might have to wait until next year when there's more money to go around but don't count out Licht finding a way to get both players done at the same time this offseason and making a nice big show out of how strong the future is in Tampa Bay.

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