But the mechanism they will use to do it remains undecided. Either way, Winston is slated to get tagged in some form.
The former No. 1 overall pick and current face of the franchise, who leads his team into today's 1 p.m. ET game against the Houston Texans, has guided Tampa to four straight wins and eclipsed 400 yards passing in each of the last two games. The interceptions haven't gone away, but Winston has hit a groove.
In part because of the improvement Winston has shown under coach Bruce Arians and in part because of what the team hopes the future brings, Winston will be back. The team has options.
Thanks to this coming offseason being the final in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can use both the franchise tag and the transition tag on players -- rather than just one. Another team can sign a franchise player to an offer sheet, but must surrender two first-round picks (or work out a trade, as happened last year with Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney). Teams issuing transition tags receive no compensation if they can't match the offer sheet.
Barring an unlikely early contract prior to the tags being administered before the March 10 deadline, the Bucs have a decision to make sure both players don't leave.
The franchise tag for QBs is projected to be about $27 million, while the transition tag would be $25 million. For a linebacker, the franchise tag is slated to be almost $16 million, while the transition should be almost $14 million. Barrett may also argue (as Clowney did) that he plays more defensive end and deserves a more expensive tag.
Do not discount the transition tag for Winston. Both tags are an option, but the transition tag is a potentially intriguing one.
In short, it comes down to this: Which player would be least likely to receive a competing offer sheet from a rival team? A pass rusher in the prime of his career coming off his best season or a franchise quarterback with huge numbers and potential but not quite perfection?
On the other hand, is the transition tag too big of a risk to take with a franchise QB?
It took Carson Palmer half a season to get it under Arians in Arizona, and Winston seems to be following suit. Early in the win streak, Arians was asked if Winston will be back for 2020. The response was, "I'm gonna pass until it's over and then we'll make a decision."
Nearly there, the Bucs appear set to make sure their QB returns. But how it happens will be something to watch.