In what will likely be the least surprising move the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make this offseason, Shaquil Barrett has been franchise tagged just 3 days after saying he’d accept a franchise tag to the TB Times. Unfortunately for the players, you can decline a franchise tag to become an unrestricted free agent but that mandates you sit out a year. With the new labor deal, the Bucs can only issue restrict one free agent to tender a contract to and the outside linebacker seems like the perfect candidate.
Despite Tampa’s defensive flaws last season, Barrett was stellar. In 2019, Barrett led the NFL in sacks with 19.5. That also is a new Tampa Bay record, breaking the 16.5 Warren Sapp set in 2000 with 16.5. Sapp, of course, is arguably the greatest player to ever wear the Buccaneer uniform and is one of the main reasons they won the Super Bowl with what many consider the greatest defensive of all-time. Sapp entered Canton in his first year of eligibility in 2013 and was only the second Buccaneer to have his number retired (the first being Lee Roy Selmon). But that wasn’t the only impressive feat for the 27 year old in 2019, as the All-Pro played in all 16 games and forced 6 fumbles, tackling 58 (45 solo, 13 asst.).
It was Shaq’s first year at Raymond James, but the former Colorado State standout signed with the Broncos before the 2014 season after going undrafted. He was on the team that won Super Bowl 50 in February of 2016 that was renown for its defensive prowess. He spent 5 years with Denver and had 111 solo tackles and 14 sacks, but only started 15 total games.
Barrett vocalized recently while on the NFL Network that he’d like to be in Tampa long-term, however. During a Thursday interview, he was quoted saying “I’m expecting to still be down here in Tampa. I feel as though we both feel that we got a lot of good momentum from last year we’re gonna build on. So, we’re gonna try to work that out and figure out what that’s going to look like but I’m confident I’ll be down here…. I’m gonna play off the tag, I got to. But I do want that long-term deal, it’s all about security for me and my family. That’s all I’ve been wanting for my whole time in the NFL, just get that security. Even a franchise tag, that’s still getting the security too but I just want a long contract and long-term security.”
So far this morning, other players that have been franchise tagged are RB Derrick Henry of the Titans, Chiefs DT Chris Jones, Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott and Bengals WR AJ Green.
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