Shaquil Barrett has known he wanted to remain a Tampa Bay Buccaneer for the long term since before his his amazing breakout season in 2019 was even over. But if there was any lingering doubt over a year later, after the Buccaneers had won Super Bowl LV, it was washed away by the boat parade to celebrate that championship.
"I just love the feel and the atmosphere, most definitely at the parade, everything that goes into it," said Barrett. "It's just so much fun to be able to celebrate with the fans like that. It was amazing. We've got all the makings to do it again so we've just got to put the work in again and not rest. Just keep being hungry and we'll be in a good place at the end of the year next year."
Judging from the repeated comments he has made on the matter, including before he got the franchise tag last year and after he had signed that tag without getting a new deal in place, Barrett likely didn't have any doubt about what he wanted to do. It was just a matter of getting the numbers right and gaining that long-term security he craved and certainly deserved. General Manager Jason Licht had told him he would not get the franchise tag again, but Barrett know a long-term contract would be more difficult to work out than usual given the depressed salary cap and the Bucs' other free agents.
"I was always focused on being back here," sad Barrett. "There was nowhere else I wanted to be. Yeah, I knew the salary cap was a problem, was going to be a problem but I'm happy we were able to get it done at a fair rate, a great rate for us and a great rate for them.
"Once we came to a conclusion that it was a great deal for both of us we got it done, but I was just working on, my agent Drew [Rosenhaus] was just working on, getting something done here and that's what happened."
View the top pictures of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul from the 2020-2021 season, NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl LV.
Barrett officially signed his new multi-year contract on Wednesday, not long before he could have become an unrestricted free agent that afternoon. That followed a new deal for Lavonte David last week and the placement of the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin. The team is expected to continue strinving to figure out new deals, if possible, for the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown and Ryan Succop, too. Barrett has confidence he won't be the last Super Bowl LV champion to come back to the fold.
"We had a great team and there's no reason to not want to try to bring it back and try to do it again, but do it even better this time," said Barrett. "Jason Licht, he's a world-class G.M. I applaud every move he's been making since Day One of being here. He's been doing it the right way. He's been building steadily and now that we've got a championship team he's trying to bring back another championship team again next year. Usually teams win then let people go and walk, because some people will usually demand a higher salary than teams are willing to be, but we made it work. We moved some stuff around, made some amazing deals with other guys who were free. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to get it done."
Tampa is Barrett's second NFL home after he spent five years and played four seasons for the Denver Broncos. He signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers in 2019 after becoming convinced a larger role wasn't in his future in Denver, but his main reluctance in leaving was not wanting to uproot his family. He and his wife Jordanna have three kids and a fourth that is very close to arriving, and now they can put down roots in Tampa. Barrett also indicated Wednesday that he is eager to make a lasting impact on the Bay area community. As for his legacy on the field, after recording 27.5 sacks over just two seasons with the Buccaneers, he has aims at being even better in 2021 and beyond.
"I just want to be known as one of the best at my position, and that's why I'm still hungry," said Barrett. "I feel like I proved it to some point but I didn't do it the way that I wanted to do it consistently last year. I want to do it consistently all year next year, dominate game-in and game-out and just leave my imprint on every game."
Barrett concluded that thought by saying it was one of his two equal motivations for next season. The other one should be obvious. He is one of just a handful of Buccaneers who had won a Super Bowl before 2020, but even so he's far from satisfied with one in Tampa.
"It's going to be hard for sure, but we're ready to work," he said. "We're ready to keep grinding and we're still hungry. Nobody is settling for one Super Bowl. We know we've got the potential to do it again so we're going to try to make another run."