The Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers are staving off free agency losses as best they can, and one of the biggest steps in that process came on Wednesday when edge-rushing star Shaquil Barrett signed a new multi-year deal to remain with the team.
The contract is a tremendous win for both Barrett and the Buccaneers.
View the top pictures of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul from the 2020-2021 season, NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl LV.
Barrett first came to Tampa on a one-year "prove-it" deal as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 after fours years as a rotational player in Denver. He immediately proved it, leading the NFL that season with a team single-season record 19.5 sacks. That prompted the Buccaneers to place the franchise tag on Barrett, who had another very impactful season in 2020 to help the franchise capture its second NFL title. His 27.5 sacks over the past two seasons are the second-most in the NFL in that span and he has ranked third in quarterback pressures in each of his two Buccaneer seasons, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Now Barrett gets the security of a long-term deal that he has been seeking.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are heading into 2021 with aspirations of defending their title but also with a long list of players who could leave through free agency. Keeping Barrett in the fold is a major step in that direction, as was evident when he racked up four sacks and eight quarterback hits over the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl combined. The official signing comes just a few hours before the start of unrestricted free agency and in rapid succession after the franchise tagging of wide receiver Chris Godwin and the re-signing of inside linebacker Lavonte David.
Barrett, who turned 28 last November, has played in 92 NFL games with 46 starts and has amassed 266 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 55 tackles for loss, 88 quarterback hits, one interception, 12 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His combined sack total in 2019-20 is second in the league only to Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt (29.5), and his eight forced fumbles in that span is tied for third, behind Watt (10) and Baltimore's Marlon Humphrey (10).
Barrett has missed only one game in two seasons with the Buccaneers, that being the 2020 regular-season finale when he was briefly on the reserve/COVID-19 list for being in proximity to a teammate who tested positive. His 19.5 sacks in 2019 broke Warren Sapp's 19-year-old franchise record of 16.5 and earned him his first Pro Bowl invitation. He also led the team that season with six forced fumbles, tied for first in the NFL with 37 quarterback hits and even recorded his first career interception.
Last season, Barrett contributed another 8.0 sacks to go with 57 tackles, 16 QB hits, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed. He combined with Jason Pierre-Paul (9.5) and Devin White (9.0) to record the majority of the team's 48 sacks, which tied for fourth in the NFL and was the second-highest single-season total in team history. According to Next Gen Stats, Barrett pressured the quarterback 59 times in 2020, third-most in the NFL. He had 68 QB pressures the year before.
In the postseason, Barrett led the Buccaneers with 4.0 sacks during their four-game run to the Super Bowl LV championship, including 3.0 in the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. He also sacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl and had a team-high total of eight QB hits in the playoffs, all in those last two games. Next Gen Stats credited him with eight quarterback pressures against Kansas City in that final game, his most in any contest all season.