Last December, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Detroit Lions, 38-17, in a game at Ford Field most notable for Breshad Perriman's three-touchdown effort and rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting's clinching pick-six in front of his hometown crowd. However, the most memorable moment after the game was when Head Coach Bruce Arians' insisted in his postgame press conference that Shaquil Barrett, a potential unrestricted free agent in 2020, "ain't going anywhere."
This was shortly after Barrett had tied Warren Sapp's 19-year-old franchise single-season sack record, dropping David Blough once to give him 16.5 QB takedowns on the year. It was two weeks before Barrett would conclude his incredible breakout season with three sacks in Week 17 to end up with an NFL-best 19.5. And it was three months before the league's sack leader would possibly have a shot at the open market.
Clearly, the Buccaneers weren't going to let a defender as disruptive as Barrett get away, even if it meant using their franchise tag for the first time in eight years. And that's exactly what happened; Barrett currently carries the tag and can either sign it and play on another one-year deal or come to agreement with the team on a longer-term contract.
It's likely that the Buccaneers would like to keep Barrett around past 2020 because pass-rushers who make that sort of impact are hard to find. And according to NFL.com's Nick Shook and Next Gen Stats, Barrett was one of the most disruptive defenders in the league on a per-snap basis in 2019.
As Nick Shook recently laid out in an article utilizing a Next Gen Stat called "Disruption Rate," Barrett ranked seventh in the NFL in the percentage of his pass-rush snaps that included a disruption of the quarterback. A disruption is defined as a quarterback hurry, a quarterback pressure or a sack. Sacks are commonly scored as pressures, too, but for this stat only one is counted per play. It's also worth noting that this only includes the plays in which Barrett rushed the quarterback, not ones in which he dropped into coverage or set the edge against the run.
(Shook also ranked Tom Brady among the NFL's best deep-ball throwers in 2019; here's more on that.)
Shook's ranking of the league's top 10 disruptors doubles as a list of many of the NFL's recognized NFL stars. Barrett joins a group that starts with Cleveland's Myles Garrett and also includes Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Robert Quinn and the two biggest rookie breakouts in 2019, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. Garrett, of course, was the first-overall pick in the 2017 draft and he has that lofty draft status in common with most of the players on the list.
In fact, eight of the 10 players on Shook's list entered the NFL as first-round draft picks, and Barrett is the only one in the group who signed as an undrafted rookie. The only other non-first-rounder is Green Bay's Za'Darius Smith, who was a fourth-round choice by Baltimore in 2015.
Barrett's disruption rate in 2019 was 15.4%, which ranked him just behind Donald (15.7%) and just ahead of New England's Dont'a Hightower (15.0%). Barrett's 78 total disruptions were third most among players on the list, behind only Donald (90) and Smith (84).
Shook pointed out that Barrett played a high number of snaps, 836 overall and 508 that counted as pass rushes, and that brought his disruption rate down a bit. However, as the author also noted, that isn't necessarily something that should be viewed in a negative light.
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"That's a number you can look at in two different ways, though -- a larger sample size is nearly always going to bring a player's success rate down, but conversely, more pass rushes means more opportunities," wrote Shook.
Or, to put it another way, Barrett was so consistently productive – and disruptive – that Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles wanted him on the field as much as possible. That's also why the Buccaneers wanted Barrett on their side again in 2020, and hopefully beyond.