Buccaneers’ Pro Bowler Sitting Out OTAs Over Contract

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are missing arguably their best overall player for OTAs over a contract dispute.

According to a post from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on X, left offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs isn’t with the team for voluntary workouts.

“#Bucs OT Tristan Wirfs did not report to OTAs and doesn’t plan to in the immediate future, per source,” Fowler wrote. “The multi-year All-Pro seeks a long-term contract and does not want to risk injury. Sides have not made progress on a new deal.”

The Buccaneers selected Wirfs with the No. 13 overall pick out of Iowa in the 2020 NFL draft and signed him to a four-year, $16.2 million contract. The franchise picked up the fifth-year option that will pay him $18.2 million in 2024.

Wirfs made the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2020 and helped lead the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory. He followed that with back-to-back NFL All-Pro seasons in 2021 and 2022 and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons.

Wirfs Wants to be NFL’s Highest-Paid OT

Recent contract moves around the NFL have had an impact on Wirfs and his perceived value to the Buccaneers.

When Wirfs and the Buccaneers started negotiations, Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was the highest paid at Wirfs’ position after signing a three-year, $75 million contract in March 2023. New York Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas signed a five-year, $117.5 million contract with $67 million guaranteed before the 2023 season.

Since then, Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who was drafted one year after Wirfs in 2021, agreed to a historic contract extension — that was a 4-year, $112 million deal with $84 million guaranteed. Sewell’s deal makes him the highest-paid offensive tackle in NFL history in terms of both annual salary ($28 million) and guaranteed money.

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“Tristan Wirfs is entering the final year of his deal. He’s going to try to surpass the $25 million per year that (offensive tackle) Laramey Tunsil is getting in Houston,” The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov said in an April 1 video titled “Predicting 6 Record-Setting Contracts in the NFL.” on April 1. “He started his career at right tackle (and) was an All-Pro there (then) moved over to left tackle last year. Tampa Bay wanted to see how (that was) going to go. … It is time to pay him some huge money. Expect him to go over $25 million per year.”

Buccaneers Have Sights on NFC Championship

It’s not hard to see the Buccaneers have spent money and constructed their team in 2024 to make a run at winning the NFC Championship — they’ve won three straight NFC South Division titles and advanced to the NFC Divisional Round following the 2023 season.

With Wirfs seeking a long-term deal, Tampa Bay has already made safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (4 years, $84.1 million) the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history and also inked new deals for wide receiver Mike Evans (2 years, $52 million) and quarterback Baker Mayfield (3 years, $1000 million) in the offseason.

With Wirfs undoubtedly about to get paid as well, the pressure will be on the Buccaneers to not only make the playoffs but make a postseason run in 2024.

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