Sighing their own is a big part of the Buccaneers’ offseason plans. With guys like Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett, and Lavonte David headlining Tampa Bay’s free agent class, their ability to maneuver through the cap will be pretty tight.
If and when the Buccaneers cross the bridge for what to do with Barrett, that bridge may lead to a life after Shaq. Who do they replace him with? That kind of decision may lead them to look within their own division.
As we continue our free agent spotlight series today, we’re taking a look at Orlando, FL native and New Orleans Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson.
Trey Hendrickson’s Career Thus Far
Hendrickson, a product of Florida Atlantic University, was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by New Orleans. In four years at FAU, he recorded 29.5 sacks — 23 of those sacks came in his junior (13.5) and senior (9.5) years. Hendrickson racked up 125 total tackles, 68 were solo tackles, and 41 tackles for loss. The 103rd overall selection was voted Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year his junior season (2016). His 29.5 sacks ranks him fifth best in the conference.
Hendrickson’s professional career started off slow. After appearing in just 17 games his first two years and a combine 20% of defensive snaps with the Saints, he saw more action as he appeared in 28 the last two seasons. His last season with New Orleans proved to be most successful as he recorded 13.5 sacks after previously picking up just 4.5 sacks the season prior. He also managed to pick up 12 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits in 2020 while playing in 53% of the defensive snaps.
Why It Works
Hendrickson did a great job of getting to the quarterback in 2020. He didn’t do it in spurts where he sacked the the quarterbacks he faced in bunches. He got at least one sack in 10 of the 15 games he played in. The former FAU Owl showed his pass rushing ability his was known for in college in his contract year with the Saints and showed good technique off the edge that can complement the Buccaneers’ defensive line while succeeding in Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme.
At 26, the 6-4, 270-pound defensive end is two years younger and bigger than Barrett. His arm length gives him a good edge (no pun intended) over offensive tackles with the ability to maneuver his way into the offensive backfield. That could be partly because of the different techniques he quickly uses. While Hendrickson is touted by may of using many rushing techniques, he has learned to use his big body to bull rush tackles and not just speed to get around the edge. Similar to what he did on Kansas City’s star left tackle Eric Fisher as you see in the clip below.
Blonde hair. Brown hair. No hair. It doesn’t matter. Trey Hendrickson is taking your lunch money. pic.twitter.com/TVtzmEDgpr— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) December 22, 2020
Hendrickson has been regarded as basically a one-trick pony. How so? he’s not very good against the run. A lot of the reason for his limited snap count — even in 2020 — was because he is essentially a pass-rusher only. In comparison to Barrett, the Buccaneers played him more often, to the tune of 77% of the defensive snaps in 2020.
That’s not to say that Hendrickson won’t be an asset on any team. He could very well see an increase of snaps to 65%-75% on any defense. But his limitations in the run game certainly play a role in a team’s decision regardless if this has turned into a passing league or not.
What’s The Cost?
Pass rushers are a huge commodity in the NFL. And at 26 years old, Hendrickson could very well find himself in the middle of teams fighting for his services being that he is young as well has not having much “mileage” in his career thus far. He should consider himself very fortunate.
With that said, however, Spotrac has his value set to an average of $10.3 million per season. That is much less than what Barrett may sign for, which they have his value set to an annual average of $19.7 million.
What We Don’t Know
We don’t really know how Hendrickson will be priced in free agency. Considering that he is coming off of his best season of his young career, he could be looking to cash-in on a fairly high contract. But which version of Hendrickson is a team going to get?
For all we know, general manager Jason Licht could be talking to Barrett and his agent right this moment. No one outside of Barrett is remotely close to being considered as the team’s focus and priority is currently on those that are on the roster currently.
They know what they can have or will have in Barrett. They don’t know if Hendrickson will only still excel against the pass and never improve against the run.
Make The Decision
Hendricks, a former third-round pick, had a slow start to his NFL career. He did get better as his years went on and looks to potentially get the biggest contract of his career this offseason. Let us know what you think by voting in the poll and discussing your thoughts in the comments down below.
When it comes to Trey Hendrickson, what would you have the Buccaneers do?
This poll is closed
Sign him, no matter what
Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
Call him up if they have a need after the NFL draft
Don’t need him