Bucs GM Explains Process of Trading Up to Draft Tristan Wirfs for Tom Brady

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2020

Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs (74) plays against Michigan during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted a top-tier offensive tackle early in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL draft, but it wasn't an easy path to land Tristan Wirfs 13th overall.

The Buccaneers entered the draft with the 14th overall pick but wanted one of Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Becton, according to Peter King of NBC Sports.

General manager Jason Licht reportedly made about 30 calls during the week discussing possible trades and began making offers on draft day at No. 9 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This came after Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim (eighth overall pick) didn't pick up the phone.

The Jaguars rejected the Buccaneers' offer of their third- and fourth-round picks to move up, and both the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets took tackles with the next two picks.

An attempt at the Las Vegas Raiders' pick at No. 12 also didn't work out, as the team wanted wide receiver Henry Ruggs.

"Doesn't matter what we offer," Licht said at the time. "They're staying."

The San Francisco 49ers were then up—one spot ahead of the Buccaneers' scheduled pick—and Licht stayed aggressive.

"I don't think we can mess around here," he told his staff.

Tampa Bay dealt its fourth-round pick to move up one spot, also receiving San Francisco's seventh-rounder. It was the first trade in the draft, and it was enough to land Wirfs, who could be a cornerstone tackle for Tom Brady and future Tampa QBs.

Prior to the draft, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller listed Wirfs as the No. 2 tackle and No. 10 overall player in the class. And according to Licht, another GM texted him after the pick to tell him Wirfs was their highest-rated tackle.

Though some questioned why Tampa would trade up one spot, Licht said afterward he thought the 49ers might take a tackle to replace Joe Staley, who was contemplating retirement and ultimately did retire Saturday. 

"The Staley stuff scared me," he said. "The Niners could definitely be a tackle team."

San Francisco then drafted defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the 14th pick.