Skip to main content
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Presented by

Bucs Place Franchise Tag on All-Pro Safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antoine Winfield Jr., a first-team AP All-Pro selection in 2023, is the seventh player in team history to be designated a franchise player, which makes it almost certain he will remain with the Bucs through at least 2024


Since drafting him with a second-round pick in 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have watched safety Antoine Winfield Jr. win a Super Bowl, snag a Pro Bowl invite, ascend to first-team Associated Press All-Pro status and develop into perhaps the top playmaker on their defense. The Buccaneers expect Winfield's career trajectory to continue ascending in 2024 and beyond, and they want to make sure that happens in their uniform.

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers designated Winfield as their franchise player for 2024, utilizing that option for the fourth time in the last five years. The deadline to apply franchise or transition tags was Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Winfield was voted into his first Pro Bowl after a 2021 season in which he racked up two interceptions, 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six passes defensed. Despite wildly outpacing those stats in 2023 he was not named to the NFC's Pro Bowl roster, but he received a much more exclusive honor from the Associated Press, which names only two first-team All-Pros from the entire league at the safety position.

The Buccaneers used the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on Winfield, meaning he can negotiate with other teams but Tampa Bay retains a right to match any contract offer. If Winfield does sign with another team and the offer is notmatched, his new team must send two first-round draft picks to the Buccaneers.

The non-exclusive franchise tender offer is a one-year contract that becomes the player's salary for the upcoming season if and when he signs it. The calculation of the tender offer Winfield received was based mainly on the top five salaries at the player's position from the previous year, though there were other factors, including the salary cap figures of the past five seasons and the projected cap figure for the upcoming season.

The placement of the franchise tag does not mean that Winfield and the Buccaneers must or will stop negotiating on a new long-term contract to keep the young pass-catcher in Tampa. In fact, the tag is often utilized as a way for a team to extend its negotiating window with a player it wants to retain with a longer deal. Most recently, wide receiver Chris Godwin received the franchise tag on March 7, 2022 and then signed a new three-year contract just 13 days later.

Thus, the designation of Winfield as the Bucs' franchise player in 2024 makes it extremely likely that the team will keep the leader of their secondary around at least one more year, and perhaps for the long term.

After playing a hybrid safety/slot corner position for the Buccaneers in 2022, Winfield went back to playing safety exclusively and responded with a monster season that included 122 tackles, 6.0 sacks, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, six tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. He was the highest graded safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, with a mark of 91.2. Since data became available starting in 1999, Winfield is the first defensive back to record at least five sacks and five forced fumbles in the same season.

In his first four seasons, Winfield has amassed 384 tackles, 15.0 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 21 QB hits, seven interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. He has the most sacks by a defensive back in the NFL since 2020 and his total is already a franchise record for safeties.

Winfield was one of 18 players from the Buccaneers' 2023 division-winning roster who were set to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league year on March 13. Since only one tag can be used each year, the Buccaneers must now seek other means if they want to retain any of the other players on that list, which includes quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Mike Evans, kicker Chase McLaughlin and linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White.

This is the eighth time the Buccaneers have utilized a franchise tag since the option was created in the original CBA in 1993. That year, Tampa Bay placed the tag on standout left tackle Paul Gruber, who responded with a five-game holdout but eventually signed a new long-term deal with the team. The Bucs also used the tag in 1999 on defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, in 2009 on wide receiver Antonio Bryant, in 2012 on kicker Connor Barth, in 2020 on Shaquil Barrett and in both 2021 and 2022 on Godwin. From that list, only Bryant did not eventually sign a new multi-year contract with the team after getting the tag.

Related Content

win monthly prizes, download the app and turn on push alerts to score

Download the Buccaneers app and turn on push alerts for your chance to win

Latest Headlines