Antoine Winfield Jr. becomes highest-paid defensive back in NFL history

Minnesota Gophers defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. (11) intercepted a pass intended for Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Justin Shorter (6) in the first quarter. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Antoine Winfield Jr. is entering his fifth NFL season, and on Sunday became the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.

Winfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a four-year, $84.1 million contract extension. The Buccaneers got Winfield with the No. 45 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was a consensus All-American in his final season at the University of Minnesota as he helped lead the Gophers to an 11-2 season, its best in more than 100 years, and finished with a win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

Winfield was a First-Team All-Pro pick last season after getting 122 tackles, three interceptions, forcing six fumbles and recovering four. He has seven interceptions in four seasons in Tampa Bay.

Pouring salt on an open wound, Winfield was there for the Vikings to take in the 2020 draft and possibly follow in his father’s footsteps. Minnesota traded up to the No. 31 pick, but at the time they didn’t feel they had a need at safety. Instead, they took TCU defensive back Jeff Gladney. He played one season in Minnesota and got 15 starts, but was released after the 2020 season due to allegations of domestic assault, which he was later cleared of.

He had signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, but died in a car crash on May 30, 2022, at just 25 years old.