The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a $16.2 million decision to make on star safety Antoine Winfield Jr. But with the NFL's franchise tag period opening up, the Buccaneers appear to have already made up their mind.

Tampa Bay is expected to use the $16.2 million franchise tag on Winfield, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. That is if the Buccaneers decide to use the franchise tag. Tampa Bay enters the offseason with plenty of roster questions.

Both quarterback Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans are set to hit free agency. Mayfield led the Bucs to an NFC South title and a playoff win, solidifying his role under center. Evans has spent his entire career in Tampa Bay, setting numerous records. The Buccaneers will have over $41 million in cap space to work with, the 12th-most in the league, via Spotrac.

Using the tag on Winfield ensures he stays in Tampa as the team figures out deals for Mayfield and Evans. However, it wouldn't take away the possibility of a long-term contract. While the franchise tag covers just one season, the Buccaneers are still committed to Winfield as a defensive leader.

The safety burst onto the scene in 2023, earning the first All-Pro nomination of his career. Winfield set new career-highs in tackles (122), sacks (six), forced fumbles (six), passes defended (12) and interceptions (three).

Tampa Bay will have until March 5 to make a decision on franchise tagging Antoine Winfield Jr. But as the Buccaneers look to defend their NFC South crown, the franchise understands just how important the All-Pro is to their success.