Contract Dispute With NFL All-Pro Puts Buccaneers on ‘Panic Meter’

Tristan Wirfs

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.

It’s hard to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning in 2024 without — and please pardon the bad pun — everyone completely on board.

That includes, of course, two-time NFL All-Pro offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs, who is expected to show up but not participate in mandatory minicamp and could be a potential training camp holdout if he doesn’t receiver a lucrative contract extension.

The Buccaneers and Wirfs not having agreed to an extension yet placed the franchise squarely on the list of teams on the “Panic Meter” list because of possible training camp holdouts, according to Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton.

Wirfs’ contract talks took an interesting turn when the Detroit Lions made Penei Sewell the highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL with a 4-year, $112 million contract extension in April.

Sewell was drafted one year after Wirfs in 2021 and has one less All-Pro nod, one less Pro Bowl and doesn’t have a Super Bowl win, which Wirfs got as a rookie in 2020.

“Like Sewell, Wirfs has an All-Pro season on his resume, but the latter has played at a Pro Bowl level at right and left tackle,” Moton wrote. “Last year, he transitioned from the right to the left side and still played at a high level, protecting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who posted career-high passing numbers.

“This offseason, the Buccaneers have signed (Baker) Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans to new deals to keep their offensive core intact. Wirfs, who plays arguably the most important non-quarterback position, should be next up for an extension.”

Wirfs in Line to Become NFL’s Highest Paid OT

PFF’s Zolton Buday has Wirfs ranked as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the NFL headed into the 2024 season, behind only San Francisco 49ers star and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Trent Williams.

“The Buccaneers’ decision to move Wirfs from right to left tackle before the 2023 season raised questions about whether his performance would decline,” Buday wrote. “However, Wirfs recorded the second-highest pass-blocking grade among all offensive tackles and finished with a top-five overall grade for the first time in his career (83.0).”

Moton projects the Bucs will make Wirfs the highest-paid offensive tackle in NFL history if and when they agree upon an extension, predicting a 5-year, $140 million contract extension with $70 million in guaranteed money.

For left tackles, Houston’s Laremy Tunsil has the highest salary at $25 million per season, New York Giants’ Andrew Thomas has the largest overall contract at $117.5 million and the largest amount of guaranteed money at $67 million.

Sewell’s contract set the record for most guaranteed money for an offensive tackle at $85 million.

Wirfs Has Pro Football Hall of Fame Potential

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 has also only mised four games in his career — all in 2022 because of an ankle injury.

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