Gerald McCoy

Despite sitting at the bottom of the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cemented a bright note for the future this weekend, when they signed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a seven-year contract extension, worth a reported $98 million.

The deal makes the 26-year-old the highest-paid player at this position in the NFL. Also, $51.5 million of the deal is guaranteed — the most ever given to a defensive tackle in NFL history.

According to ESPN.com, the deal is worth $95.2 million, and could reach $98 million with escalator clauses. McCoy will average $13.6 million per year, and $14 million annually if those escalators kick in.

The Bucs confirmed the deal via Twitter, posting a photo of McCoy shaking hands with general manager Jason Licht.

The team’s star DT is in his fifth NFL season, coming off his best year, when he recorded 9.5 sacks and 35 tackles. The Buc’s consider him the anchor of their rebuilding defense.