As the post-Super Bowl LV era continues to grow, so does the speculation surrounding the current crop of Tampa Bay’s potential free agents.
One of those guys is Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay’s top sack artist over the past two seasons. He and Jason-Pierre Paul have formed one of the league’s top duos when it comes to getting after the quarterback, evidenced by their 45.5 combined sacks over the last two seasons.
Many wondered what would happen after Barrett led the league with 19.5 sacks in 2019. The answer was a franchise tag that came out to a little over $15.8 million in 2020. Now it appears as if the same question(s) face Barrett and the Bucs in 2021.
Barrett made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning and was asked the main question that faces him and the Bucs: How do they plan on keeping it all together?
“That’s a great question,” Barrett said. “Mr. Licht, up-top, BA, they all did a good job of getting us together, [so] I know they’re going to have a good plan to keep us together, man, because this is a great organization. It seems like they’re making all the right moves from the last two years that I’ve been a part of. I’m happy to be a part of it and I know that ‘if there’s a will there’s a way’ and there is a will so we are gonna figure out a way to get it done.”
You could hear the sincerity in his voice and you could also see it in his facial expressions. “I most definitely like Tampa and I want to be in Tampa,” he continued. “I feel they feel the same way, so we are going to find a way to get it done, for sure.”
It’s an optimistic message and it will certainly make both the Bucs and their fans happy, but make no mistake; Barrett wants to get paid.
He made that clear during an interview with Adam Schein on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio later in the day.
“I’m most definitely looking forward to getting a long-term deal done,” Barrett said. “I feel like it’s time for me to break the bank now, and I most definitely want to do that to be able to set my family up better and most definitely going to keep producing so it’s not like anything is going to fall off. I still think I got a lot left in the tank. I’m still getting better, actually.”
He also took a more leave-the-door-open approach when it comes to the Bucs and how much they’ll actually be able to pay him versus offers from other teams.
“I mean, I do still want to have a great fit for me and a great fit for the family,” Barrett told Schein. “So whatever that, like, that turns out to be. But I do want, I want to be, I want to be here. I think we got a great team here, a great organization here. So we will definitely go on just to see how it works out and shake up. But, I’m looking forward to trying to get something done here.”
No matter what happens, Barrett is in a great spot. He will have plenty of suitors who are willing to pay him what he deserves. The price is likely to be very steep, as well. Barrett has the second-most sacks over the last two years, which is more than Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, Demarcus Lawerence, and Frank Clark. The kicker with all of the aforementioned players is that they are considered edge players and their contracts all average over $20 million per year.
So, yea. It’s safe to say Barrett is going to get paid. And he’s going to get paid well.
“I’m looking forward to it, man,” he told Patrick. “It’s a great position to be in and it’s crazy after last year. Who would’ve thought that the position could become even better for me to be in? That’s where I’m at right now. I’m just staying in the moment and trying to take advantage of it [while] still focusing to even get better next year because I think played well, but I don’t think I played the way I wanted to play all year.”
Per spotrac.com, Tampa Bay currently has around $30 million in cap room and 41 players under contract for the 2021 season. Per overthecap.com, the 2021 franchise tag for DEs —which is what Barrett was tagged under in 2020— is a little over $17.7 million.