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Week 3 Buccaneers X-Factor: OLB, Shaquil Barrett

In his return to Denver, Barrett looks to return to the sack column.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Back for Week 3 is our weekly Tampa Bay Buccaneers X-Factor, and as the team heads out to face the Denver Broncos we’re turning our gaze to outside linebacker, Shaquil Barrett.

Coming in on a one-year deal with the Bucs in 2019, Barrett made his presence known quickly notching four sacks in his first two games with the team.

Two games in to his second season in Tampa, Barrett wasn’t able to get home for a sack against either Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) or Teddy Bridgewater (Carolina Panthers). While he really kickstarted his 2019 campaign in his first divisional game with the Bucs, it may take an opponent outside of the division - but still very familiar to Barrett - to get things going on the stat sheet.

Barrett’s return to Denver is one of the bigger storylines entering Week 3, and for good reason. He spent his first five seasons with the Broncos, sacked opposing quarterbacks fourteen times, built a family, and won a Super Bowl. Barrett has great memories of Colorado going back to his days at Colorado State University, but the one thing he was missing was the honest chance to prove he could be a starter in the National Football League.

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

He got the chance in Florida with Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians, and hasn’t looked back since. At least, not until he was asked to by Arnold Singleton,

“I look back like, all my time there was a blessing. Like I wouldn’t be the player I am now without going there...”, Barrett said. “...the path that I took was probably the best path for me and my career, so I think it was all a great learning experience.”

Make no mistake about it though, this is a revenge game. Barrett knew about sixteen months before he left Denver his time there was short.

Rick Stroud asked Barrett about heading back to Broncos Country, and how he felt about returning to the stadium he used to call home following his breakout 2019 performance.

“It’s going to feel good to go back there. Trying to get another win - that’s the most important (thing) is to come out a winner, be 2-1 so we can be on the right page setting us up for the rest of the season. I just want to show them that they did have the chance to have me and they let me go.”

It’s not about drama though. Barrett was his usual smiling self throughout his conversation about where the Buccaneers are in 2020 and where he’s come from since leaving the Broncos.

During the off-season’s franchise tag and contract conversations happening mostly in the media, Barrett went on record several times discussing his happiness with being a Buc, taking all of the speculation in stride.

It appears Barrett is taking his return to Denver the same way, working hard to be ready, but keeping it fun at the same time.

Ryan Disdier (Locked On Podcast Network)

His effort on the field and his attitude about the profession are two things which built him a cult following while in Colorado. One member of the unofficial Shaquil Barrett fan club in Denver is Patrick Chiotti of Pro Football Network.

Filling in for Locked On Broncos host Cody Roark for a ‘Crossover Thursday’ episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast, Chiotti said, “That dude is a baller. What he did last year...it didn’t come as much of a surprise to us Broncos fans. He was that prototypical Broncos budding star. It really was unfortunate to see him go.”

High praise, and well earned praise as well. With Von Miller out for the year, the Broncos would certainly have loved to have Barrett waiting in the wings to step up for the team. It’s not how things went down however.

Instead, Barrett took his talents to Tampa, and now he brings his charged up defense into town to send the Broncos to 0-3 as the Buccaneers’ X-Factor for Week 3 of the 2020 NFL Season.