On Wednesday, Barrett signed the franchise tag tender offer that the Buccaneers had extended to him on March 16, thus converting that offer into a one-year contract for the upcoming season. Barrett and the Buccaneers still had the opportunity to negotiate a long-term contract while the tender offer was in place, but 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday was the deadline for such a deal to be completed.
Barrett, who previously signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent in March of 2019, had a breakout season in his first year as a Buccaneer. That prompted the team to use its franchise tag option for the first time since doing so with kicker Connor Barth in 2012. Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, in the process breaking Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record of 16.5, set in 2000. Barrett also became the first Buccaneer ever to lead the NFL in sacks in a single season. The sack became an official NFL statistic in 1982.
The Buccaneers placed the "non-exclusive" version of the franchise tag on Barrett, meaning he could negotiate with other teams up to Wednesday's deadline but Tampa Bay retained a right to match any contract offer. If Barrett did sign with another team and that offer was not matched, that team would have been required to send two first-round draft picks to the Buccaneers.
The non-exclusive tender offer carries a salary that equals the average of the five largest salaries from the previous year at the position he most commonly played. The formula to determine the franchise tag salary at each position takes into account the franchise tag values and salary cap totals for the five previous seasons. Alternately, the tender offer would equal 120% of the tagged player's salary from the previous season, if that is greater than what the above formula produces.
The franchise tag option was created in 1993 as part of the first collective bargaining agreement and it was retained in the new CBA ratified this past March. Barrett is the fifth Buccaneer since that time to receive a franchise or transition tag, joining Barth, tackle Paul Gruber in 1993, defensive end Chidi Ahanotu in 1999 and wide receiver Antonio Bryant in 2009.
Barrett signed with the Buccaneers in March after four seasons as primarily a reserve with the Denver Broncos, serving in a rotational edge-rushing role. His playing time fluctuated significantly during that time based on the other players in that rotation, including Von Miller, Demarcus Ware and Bradley Chubb. He joined the Buccaneers hoping to earn a starting role and a much larger share of the defensive snaps, both of which he quickly earned.
Barrett then started his first Buccaneer season on a torrid streak, with at least one sack in each of the first four games of 2019. That run included a three-sack performance in Week Two at Carolina, which earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He followed that with four more takedowns against the New York Giants in Week Three, joining Marcus Jones and Simeon Rice as the only players in franchise history to record a four-sack game.
Barrett was also named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. He finished the season with another impressive run, recording seven sacks over the Buccaneers' last five outings. His three-sack performance against Atlanta to cap the season allowed him to move a half-sack past Arizona's Chandler Jones for the NFL title.
In all, Barrett finished his first Buccaneer season with 58 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 37 quarterback hits, one interception, two passes defensed and six forced fumbles to go with those 19.5 sacks. Those 37 QB hits tied him with Green Bay's Za'Darius Smith for the league lead in that category, too, and his six forced fumbles ranked third. Barrett was selected to play in his first Pro Bowl following the season and also earned second-team Associated Press All-Pro honors.