The tackle market was reset on Sunday. And you can be sure that Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Tristan Wirfs took notice.
Tunsil received a three-year, $75 million deal with $50 million of it guaranteed on Sunday, becoming the highest-paid tackle in NFL history. The deal only puts more pressure on the Bucs, who have an All-Pro tackle of their own in Tristan Wirfs. Eventually, Jason Licht and his team will have to pay Wirfs with a new contract, and Wirfs will look at Tunsil’s latest deal when negotiations begin.
So when will that be?
Wirfs became a Buccaneer in 2020, the year the team won Super Bowl LV. According to Sportrac, Wirfs signed a four-year deal worth just over $16 million, a number that scaled with Wirfs’ draft position (Round 1, Pick 13). All drafted rookies in the NFL receive a four-year contract with the option to extend that to five — the aptly-named “fifth-year option”.
(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
As it stands, Wirfs will account for a cap hit of $5,163,463 million, which is also dead cap, in 2023. Taking that fifth-year option for Wirfs (which the team will almost certainly do) will increase Wirfs’ 2023 salary of $2,822,913 to $18,244,000 in 2024. Wirfs can play on that, and at that point, Tampa Bay will have to pay the piper (or in this case, the tackle).
Not only will the Bucs have to compete with Tunsil’s contract, but it’s entirely possible another left tackle could beat him by the time 2025 rolls around. On top of that, rumors of Wirfs moving to left tackle would only make the impending payout rise, as left tackles are seen as far more important for guarding the quarterback’s blindside and thus will get paid more. Even still, Wirfs will likely still command a premium at right tackle if that’s where he stays, as he’s a two-time All-Pro at the position.
Tunsil’s cap hit for 2023 will be close to $35 million. Wirfs will likely get a bit more than the $75 million that Tunsil got, so Tampa Bay should probably start planning for the future with its extensions if it aims to keep Wirfs, who is arguably the best player on the entire team.
Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire