Amid all of the hype surrounding Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the 2020 draft class, it’s easy to forget the fact that the Buccaneers’ top priority this offseason was keeping its key defensive free agents around—especially 2019 NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett.
Tampa Bay did that early on in this crazy year that we’re calling 2020, slapping the franchise tag on him back in mid-March. But with the planned start of training camp just about a month away, Barrett is still hoping to get a long-term deal done to stay in Tampa beyond 2020. And according to the man himself, that is something that is being worked on.
Last week, Barrett told NFL Network that he was “50/50” on playing under the tag in 2020, but he clarified that statement on Monday. In an appearance on SirusXM NFL Radio, he had this to say:
“We’re just still trying to work something out. But the franchise tag, it wasn’t like 50-50, like if I don’t get something done, I’m going to sign that for sure. We’re still trying to work to get something done and we were just going to wait as long as we could.”
So, as was discussed on a recent episode of The North & South Podcast, it sounds like the other side of that “50/50” mentioned last week wasn’t a holdout of any kind—it was the remaining hope to get a deal done before the July 15 deadline. Many of the Buccaneer faithful would surely love for the team to ink Barrett to a multi-year deal within the next couple of weeks. And it sure sounds like Barrett would love that too, although he conceded that any deal that gets done at this stage may not be all that lengthy:
“Long-term will probably be pretty hard with the situation of the world right now. I think we’re working on a deal, but it probably won’t be long (term).”
We’re obviously in really weird times right now. Not to mention, the Bucs are in a tough situation with their salary cap. So all things considered, perhaps a four- or five-year deal may not be as doable these days, but even a shorter-term multi-year deal would surely provide more stability in Barrett’s eyes. And if the cap hit for 2020 ends up being lower on a multi-year deal than it would be on the tag, that could also help Tampa Bay as well.
It’s certainly not unreasonable for Barrett to want a multi-year deal after the season he had in 2019, either. He led the league with 19.5 sacks and was selected to his first Pro Bowl while playing on a one-year prove-it deal. So, it’s fair that he may be frustrated about having to potentially play on another one-year deal this year:
“It is a little frustration because I did do everything I could do and I tried to make it as easy as possible, so there really wasn’t nothing up in the air. But I guess that I didn’t do as much as I needed to do, or as much as I thought I needed to do, so I don’t mind having my back against the wall, but I do love security a lot more.”
We’ll see what happens in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.