Left tackle Tristan Wirfs does not join teammates for start of Bucs OTA workouts

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Tristan Wirfs was a no-show Tuesday for the start of the club’s voluntary organized team activities.

An All-Pro at right tackle two years ago, Wirfs made a smooth transition to left tackle last season and is scheduled to earn $18.24 million this fall under the fifth-year option of the rookie contract he signed as the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Coach Todd Bowles, who watched Tuesday’s OTA workout from a golf cart as he recovers from left knee replacement surgery, did not directly answer a question about whether Wirfs’ absence was related to the status of talks aimed at a contract extension.

“I’m aware that it’s voluntary and me and Tristan had a conversation, we’ve had plenty of conversations,” Bowles said. “He’s been here all offseason, so I’m comfortable with that.”

The Bucs have had a busy offseason, focusing on retaining the core of a roster that’s won three straight NFC South championships and made four consecutive playoff appearances.

In addition to re-signing quarterback Baker Mayfield, franchise career receiving leader Mike Evans and long-time defensive standout Lavonte David in March, general manager Jason Licht last week made All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr. the highest-paid defensive back (four years, $84 million) in NFL history.

Licht reiterated this week that the Bucs remain committed to rewarding Wirfs, a Pro Bowl selection in his first season as a left tackle, with a long-term extension.

“It was a big puzzle this year of how to fit it all in,” Licht said Monday during a news conference to announce Winfield’s new contract. “Hopefully we can finish this off.”

Winfield was a second-round draft pick in 2020, when he and Wirfs became immediate starters and helped Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl as rookies.

The 25-year-old safety is excited about the prospect of Wirfs becoming the next key component of the team to land a new deal.

“I texted Tristan the other day like: ‘It’s coming bro, I already know it.’ It’s been amazing to play with him,” Winfield said.

“Coming out of the same class, I feel like once we got in here, you know, we’ve both worked extremely hard. We both just wanted to come in here and just do great things,” Winfield added. “So far to this point, I feel like we’ve both had great careers and I hope that continues down the line as we continue to grow and lead this team.”