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Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Tampa Bay Signs Deven Thompkins and Brandon Walton

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that the team has applied its franchise tag to safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Winfield Jr., who earned first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors for his play in 2023, amassed 122 tackles, 12 passes defensed, eight quarterback hits, 6.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions last season – all of which established new career highs. He became the first player since data became available in 1999 to finish a season with 100+ tackles and at least three interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and sacks in a single season.

Winfield Jr. finished the year with a share of the league lead in both forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, joining Haason Reddick (2022) as the only players to accomplish that feat since at least 2000. He was also the lone defensive back since 2000 with 6.0+ sacks and six-or-more forced fumbles in a season, and the lone defensive back with seven-or-more takeaways and 5.0+ sacks.

Among defensive backs in 2023, Winfield Jr. finished first in sacks (6.0), first in forced fumbles (six), first in fumble recoveries (four), tied for third in takeaways (seven) and third in quarterback hits (eight). Winfield Jr. earned a 91.2 grade this season from Pro Football Focus, landing him as the league's highest-graded safety in 2023. He led the NFL in most games with a takeaway and a sack in 2023, with four-such performances.

Since entering the league in 2020, Winfield Jr. leads all defensive backs in sacks (15.0), quarterback hits (21), forced fumbles (11) and fumble recoveries (eight). He also ranks tied for seventh in takeaways (15). Among all players, Winfield Jr. leads the NFL since 2020 with 19 combined forced fumbles plus fumble recoveries.

Winfield Jr. was also named the Buccaneers nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year.

The Buccaneers also announced that wide receiver Deven Thompkins and offensive lineman Brandon Walton – who were set to become exclusive rights free agents – signed one-year contracts.

Thompkins (5-8, 155) has played in 22 games over two seasons since signing with Tampa Bay as a college free agent on May 13, 2022. In 2023, Thompkins handled return duties in all 17 games, averaging 9.4 yards per punt return and 20.4 yards per kickoff return. In Week 14 of the 2022 season – Thompkins' first handling kick return duties – he recorded a 54-yard return, the longest by a Tampa Bay player since Arrelious Benn's 55-yard kickoff return vs. the New York Giants on Sept. 16, 2012. Thompkins played collegiately at Utah State, earning Associated Press third-team All-America honors in his final season.

Walton (6-5, 300) has appeared in 15 games for Tampa Bay since being awarded to the Buccaneers off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to the 2021 season, spending that season on Tampa Bay's practice squad. He originally entered the league as a college free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 2020 before spending the majority of the 2020 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad. A Largo, Florida, native, Walton attended Seminole High School before playing collegiately at Florida Atlantic, where he earned first team All-Conference-USA honors as a redshirt senior in 2019. 


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