Tom Brady may be garnering most of the national attention for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the team’s defense is a major reason why the franchise could make some noise in the postseason. Shaq Barrett has emerged as one of the top linebackers in the NFL but will be a free agent after the season. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians made a strong statement about Barrett’s future noting the team doesn’t “plan on Shaq going anywhere.”
“It is a luxury and we don’t plan on Shaq going anywhere,” Arians said, per Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t think he wants to go anywhere because having JPP on the other side really helps him out and I think vice versa. Putting them over the guards this week, they did some different stuff and they’re a heck of a duo, man. When you can get people one-dimensional, they’re hard to block.”
Arians referenced the success Barrett has been able to have as a result of the attention Jean Pierre-Paul demands as well. Barrett dominated in 2019 with 19.5 sacks and has followed it up with eight sacks this season heading into Week 15.
The Bucs Placed the Franchise Tag on Barrett in 2020
The Buccaneers were able to retain Barrett this season by placing the franchise tag on the star linebacker. Barrett is playing on a one-year, $15.8 million deal this season. The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia has Barrett ranked among the top 50 NFL free agents at No. 13 heading into 2021.
“With 19.5 sacks, 37 QB hits and six forced fumbles, Barrett was one of the best defensive players last season,” Kapadia explained. “The Buccaneers used the franchise tag on him, and he hasn’t been quite as productive this season with five sacks and nine QB hits through 10 weeks. Barrett has shown he is a starting-caliber edge defender with a high ceiling. But interested teams will have to decide whether 2019 was an anomaly or whether he can again be a Pro Bowl-caliber player. A strong finish to this season could boost Barrett’s asking price.”
Barrett Wants to Stay With the Buccaneers for the ‘Long Haul’
Tampa Bay also faces big decisions on Chris Godwin and Lavonte David who are also among the top NFL free agents. Heading into last offseason, Barrett indicated he wanted to be with the Buccaneers for the “long haul.”
“I don’t know where it’s going to end up at, but I’m confident that it’s going to be where I should be — which is Tampa,” Barrett said in January, per ESPN. “It’s up to Tampa Bay right now, whatever they want to do. We’re on board with them and our plan is to just get whatever we can out of anybody, but we [are] planning on Tampa. I’m planning on Tampa. …I’m just ready to get it done and ready to start building my life in Tampa and be there for the long haul.”
This season marks the second straight year Barrett has played on a one-year deal. Barrett indicated last offseason that he is looking for long-term security, something the franchise tag does not provide.
“My whole goal was to make sure my family never had to worry or feel like any instability,” Barrett added. “I want security. That’s all I want for my family. To be able to do that would mean a lot. For me, for them, for my family back home, siblings — I can be able to help everybody out. I just want stability and security for my family.”
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