Buccaneers star safety Antoine Winfield Jr makes NFL history with 4-year contract extension

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it a point this offseason to extend their most important players, and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. made NFL history with his contract extension on Monday. 

Winfield reached an agreement with the Bucs on a four-year, $84.1 million deal that makes him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, according to multiple reports. He is the first safety in NFL history to receive this honor as well. 

Winfield will be getting $45 million guaranteed in this deal, which is also the most ever given to a safety, per ESPN. 

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Antoine Winfield Jr. smiles on red carpet

Antoine Winfield Jr. attends the 13th Annual NFL Honors at Resorts World Theatre on Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

A 2023 All-Pro and Super Bowl champion in 2021, Winfield has grown into one of the best safeties in the NFL over his rookie contract, which is why the Bucs slapped him with the franchise tag this offseason. 

But it wasn’t because they were just trying to keep him for one more year. GM Jason Licht knows how important Winfield is to head coach Todd Bowles’ defense, and the franchise tag was merely a way to extend the time to reach a long-term deal.

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Winfield is now the eighth player hit with the franchise tag this offseason to reach a long-term extension with his team. Only Cincinnati Bengals star receiver Tee Higgins, who requested a trade from the franchise, hasn’t reached an extension. 

Antoine Winfield Jr. walks on field

Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Buccaneers warms up for the New Orleans Saints game at Raymond James Stadium on Dec. 31, 2023, in Tampa, Florida. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

For the Bucs, Winfield is the latest player extended this offseason, as quarterback Baker Mayfield re-signed on a three-year $100 million contract, while receiver Mike Evans (two years, $41 million) and linebacker Lavonte David (one year, $8.5 million) stay put in Tampa Bay as well. 

As every player wants to do in a contract year, Winfield had a career season with six forced fumbles (led the NFL), while setting new career highs in tackles (122), passes defended (12), sacks (6) and interceptions (3). He finished sixth in Defensive Player of the Year voting and earned his inaugural first-team All-Pro nod. 

Winfield was named a team captain last season as well, showing how crucial his presence is on and off the field for the Bucs. 

Antoine Winfield Jr. reacts on field

Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Buccaneers gives a speech in the team huddle prior to the wild-card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium on Jan. 15, 2024, in Tampa, Florida. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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It only made sense for Licht and the franchise to reach an agreement to keep one of their best defensive pieces on board for years to come, and they did much more than that with a historical deal. 

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