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Buccaneers place franchise tag on All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) runs a play during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers are aiming to sign Winfield to a long-term deal instead of giving him the franchise tag at $17.1 million. (AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on Antoine Winfield Jr., a move Tuesday that ensures the All-Pro safety a one-year, $17.1 million salary for next season.

The team will continue to seek a long-term agreement with the four-year veteran who leads all defensive backs in sacks (15), quarterback hits (21), forced fumbles (11) and fumble recoveries (eight) since entering the NFL as a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Winfield led the Bucs with three interceptions in 2023, when he joined T.J. Watt (2019), Justin Tuck (2010) and Terrell Suggs (2003) as the only players since 2000 to have five-plus sacks (six), five-plus takeaways (seven) and five-plus forced fumbles (six) in the same season.

Placing the franchise tag on the 25-year-old was not unexpected. Wide receiver Mike Evans agreed to a two-year, $52 million contract to remain with Tampa Bay this week, and the Bucs are also hoping to re-sign quarterback Baker Mayfield after winning their third consecutive NFC South title last season.

Winfield is the son of former Minnesota Vikings standout cornerback Antoine Winfield Sr. He became an immediate starter and won a Super Bowl as a rookie, and the Bucs have made the playoffs each of his four years in the league.

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