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Buccaneers 2023 Player Spotlight: Antoine Winfield Jr.

Is Tampa Bay’s fourth year safety the team’s best player?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a second round pick on a safety out of the University of Minnesota. That safety has been nothing short of a foundational piece for the Bucs over his first three seasons.

His rookie season set the tone quickly— 16 games played, 94 tackles, 3 sacks, and an interception. Tampa Bay road Antoine Winfield Jr. and their defense to a Super Bowl championship. Winfield Jr. put his own personal finishing touches on his rookie year, with a Super Bowl interception against Patrick Mahomes, and one of the most iconic moments in Buccaneers history.

Super Bowl LV Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Year two was more of the same for Antoine Winfield Jr. 88 tackles, two forced fumbles, three recoveries, and a career high two interceptions. The budding star also got another two quarterback sacks, while his team qualified for a second consecutive playoff appearance.

2022 was the third year of Antoine Winfield Jr. in Tampa Bay. Year three was the team’s least effective season since drafting Winfield Jr. in 2020, however as an individual he remained a steady producer. Winfield Jr. posted another 80 tackles and four sacks, to go along with his fifth career forced fumble and fourth NFL interception. Todd Bowles used last season as an opportunity to flash his young safeties versatility, deploying more frequently as a slot corner than in years past. While Winfield Jr. did hold his own in a quasi-new role, at the Scouting Combine. Bowles was asked about Winfield Jr. and talked about playing him more at his natural position—

“I think he’s one of our top three defensive players... I don’t want to move him around as much this coming season... I’ll try to leave him at one spot as best as I can.”

A shift back to his natural position, in a contract year, should only yield better results. What do better results look like for someone who has been one of Tampa’s most consistent players over the past three seasons?

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