Jason Licht's 3 best moves of the offseason for Buccaneers, ranked

The Buccaneers are big winners this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jason Licht
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jason Licht / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers crushed the offseason.

There was a lot of uncertainty about several key players' futures after the divisional round loss to the Detroit Lions. What was next at quarterback? Was Mike Evans' incredible career with the Buccaneers over? Who would general manager Jason Licht prioritize, and how many players could Tampa Bay realistically bring back?

From free agency to the draft, Licht hit a home run, ensuring the Buccaneers will remain in the mix for a playoff berth this fall.

But what were his best moves of the offseason?

Ranking the Buccaneers' best offseason moves in 2024

3. Drafting Graham Barton

Tampa Bay made one of the best moves of Round 1 in the NFL Draft, landing Duke's Graham Barton without trading up. Barton can play any of the five positions along the offensive line but is expected to start at center for the Buccaneers.

At the center position, Barton has a Relative Athletic Score of a perfect 10.00. His best position in the NFL is likely inside, and the Bucs agreed by moving him to center, but he played left tackle in college and could cover there if needed. With Tristan Wirfs and Luke Goedeke offering excellent protection at the two tackle spots, the Bucs now have a star in the middle of the offensive line.

2. Making Antoine Winfield Jr. the NFL's highest-paid defensive back

The Buccaneers were committed to keeping star safety Antoine Winfield Jr. by using the franchise tag, but that was only a short-term solution until they negotiated a new deal. Licht got it done by making Winfield Jr. the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.

Some players are worth signing to massive deals, and Winfield Jr. has more than earned it. The deal also sends a message to the locker room: The Buccaneers will reward their star players if they can prove themselves.

Winfield Jr. is one of the most important players on the roster, and he is staying for at least four more seasons.

1. Bringing back Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans

OK, this might be cheating to put these two together, but the Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans extensions are linked and happened within days of each other.

Tampa Bay couldn't afford to lose either player. Mayfield stepped in admirably as Tom Brady's replacement—an unenviable job—throwing for 4,044 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, leading the Buccaneers to the NFC South title and playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He achieved a perfect passer rating in the win over the Green Bay Packers.

Evans played his part—of course he did—posting his best receiving numbers in five years, with 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Bucs smartly brought both players back. Evans signed a two-year extension worth $52 million before Mayfield joined him with a new three-year contract for $100 million.

Licht did everything he needed to this offseason, ensuring the Bucs retained their most important players.

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