The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fan base wasn’t completely familiar with Shaquil Barrett’s abilities when he arrived to the organization as an unrestricted free-agent in the 2019 off-season.
Coming from the Denver Broncos, the then 26-year old linebacker came to his new team looking to add to his 14 career sacks, and looking to be on the field during the moments that mattered most.
What he did was secure a starting spot, rack up 19.5 sacks, set a new franchise record and appear on the field for every important defensive moment the Bucs saw in 2019. Mission accomplished.
So when the season came to a close in December, the Bucs Nation staff rounded up six nominees to be this community’s Player of the Year. The first name tossed into the ring: Shaquil Barrett.
Joining him were some deserving teammates. Lavonte David, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Devin White, and Jameis Winston were all nominees as well. Some honorable mentions went to guys like Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh. A stacked list of options, to say the least.
Privately however, we all commented about the realization that the other five nominees - while talented and deserving of recognition in their own right - didn’t stand a chance to top Barrett in this vote. And we were right.
By the time the polls closed, Barrett had collected more than 65% of the final vote with wide receiver Chris Godwin coming in second with 13%. The gap between first and second was north of 100 individual votes. A landslide if ever there was one.
In the comments, members of the Bucs Nation Community sounded off about their votes and the candidates they threw their support behind. Here are just some of those...
“Godwin is probably my favourite Buc as of now
Still have to give this vote to Shaq. 19.5 sacks is pretty sick. There are just 12 times a player had 20+ sacks in a season all time. Keep in mind, that Barrett was used in coverage quite often.
To me Shaq is easily the pick here, with Godwin a not so close 2nd.” - Pirre
“Shaq Barrett is without a doubt the greatest FA move Jason Licht has ever made
To get the NFL’s league leader in sacks on a 1 year contract for just 5 million dollars has to be the defensive equivalent to the Chiefs having the reigning MVP still on his rookie contract, just the absolute bargain of all bargains. Dude took a chance to come here and be a started and absolutely made the most of it, Licht better have a long term extension in the works for him because I don’t think he’s done being dominant.” - OneBucPerson
“This is one where I wish I could make multiple selections...
but giving my vote to Shaq. Godwin would be the other one I want to select. Breaking the all-time team sack record, in a team known for having fielded fierce defenses; which prior to last season we were in a double digit sack-drought…man, this dude absolutely came out and showed out this season. From being buried in Denver’s depth to being an absolute steal in FA. Gotta really give it up to Licht here for this signing, and Bowles’ scheme allowing this man to feast.
If breaking down Defensive Player of the Year for Bucs – definitely Shaq; Offensive Player of the Year for Bucs – definitely Godwin.” - bryceh91
Barrett dominated opposing offenses in his first season with the Buccaneers and notched numbers in the sack column in 75% of Tampa Bay’s games this past season.
Barrett had another game with three sacks, coming in Week 17 when he broke Warren Sapp’s franchise record for sacks in a single season.
Head coach Bruce Arians has already gone on record to voice his desire to have Barrett back in Buccaneers colors for 2020 and possibly beyond, and fans of the franchise certainly don’t want to see the NFL’s leading sack getter depart after just one year.
No matter what the future holds, one thing is for sure, Shaquil Barrett earned the love of the fans. And the fans have chosen him as their Bucs Nation Community Player of the Year for the 2019-20 NFL Season!