Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter it is a four-year deal worth $73 million, with $42 million guaranteed. The Bucs already agreed to pick up Vea’s fifth-year option for 2022, so the new deal will kick in the following year and keep him in Tampa Bay through 2026.
“Vita Vea has emerged as one of our league’s most disruptive interior defensive linemen due to a unique skillset that combines strength and superior athleticism,” general manager Jason Licht said in a statement.
“Vita’s abilities as both a premier run stuffer and pass rusher are rare, and his presence on the defensive front has played a major role in our ability to consistently rank among the league leaders in rush defense since his arrival. We look forward to having Vita remain a core piece of our defense for years to come and are excited to continue watching him develop into one of the best nose tackles in the NFL.”
The average annual value of Vea’s deal is $18.25 million per year, making him the fifth-highest-paid defensive tackle in the league behind Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, Leonard Williams of the New York Giants, DeForest Buckner of the Indianapolis Colts and Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs in terms of average per year.
The Bucs’ 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Vea has become a focal point of the Bucs’ top-ranked run defense, as well as their pass rush. At 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, Vea has shown exceptional quickness for his size, getting into the backfield and chasing down opponents.
Vea’s impact was felt in the postseason last year. After missing 13 regular-season and postseason games due to a fractured ankle, he returned for the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl, producing a pass-rush win rate against double teams of 60.4% and four quarterback pressures, making it very difficult for both Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to step into their throws.
In four seasons, he has registered 103 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 31 quarterback hits, 11.5 sacks, six passes defensed and one fumble recovery, which came this year in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears.
This year, Vea has four sacks. His seven sacks created — a stat that measures disruptions that lead to teammates recording sacks — is fourth-best in the league this year. His best game this season was his two-sack performance against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. He also sacked Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a 10-yard loss in Week 16.