Sunday, April 21 2024

So if we’re throwing out a big number, we’ll target four years and $108 million, which works out to $27 million a year, and fully guarantee the first two years. Add that to the 2024 salary and he’ll have $72 million in guarantees, a record for an offensive tackle. Spotrac, which tracks NFL contracts, has Wirfs’ “market value” assessed at four years and $102 million, which would still top Tunsil’s deal as the top-paid tackle. Spotrac projects Darrisaw at four years, $99 million and Sewell at four years, $90 million.

In theory, the Bucs could add a fifth year — still not guaranteed, but making it easier to convert base salary to bonus for salary-cap relief without having to use “void years” that can backload a contract too much. But even at four years, let’s put $108 million in perspective: That would put Wirfs at $142 million in career earnings if he finished the deal, still not even 30 years old. Evans, who is 30, just became the highest-paid Bucs player in career earnings this season, his $110.4 million surpassing the $110.1 million earned by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Evans might not be done getting paychecks in Tampa, but it’s still impressive.

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Such an honor would be well-deserved for Wirfs, rare in Bucs history as a long-term asset at one of the league’s most valued and well-compensated positions. The franchise hasn’t truly had an entrenched, long-term quarterback in its history, and Evans is arguably the team’s best offensive player to play a full career in Tampa. The team’s five Hall of Famers, all on defense, all played too early to register the kind of nine-figure career earnings that today’s stars can get in one big extension.

So at some point, perhaps even this offseason, the Bucs will lock up Wirfs with a huge, well-deserved payday. He and Winfield came in together and won a Super Bowl as rookies, ushering in the current ongoing run of sustained success that stands in stark contrast to what preceded them — 12 straight seasons of missing the playoffs. The Bucs are the only team in the NFC that can boast four straight playoff appearances, and Wirfs will be a core part of the effort to keep that streak going in 2024 and beyond.

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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