There are a number of top-notch players eager to test the free agency waters this offseason but Shaquil Barrett doesn’t sound like he’ll be one of them.
With the new league year set to kick off in six days, the Pro Bowl outside linebacker, who is set to officially become an unrestricted free agent on March 18, made an appearance on NFL Total Access on Thursday to address his plans. Needless to say, Barrett sounds like he has zero intentions of jumping ship.
“I’m expecting to still be down here in Tampa. I feel as though we both feel that we got a lot of good momentum from last year we’re gonna build on,” Barrett told NFL Network’s Willie McGinest. “So, we’re gonna try to work that out and figure out what that’s going to look like but I’m confident I’ll be down here.”
Barrett, 27, is coming off a superb 2019 campaign, his first with the Bucs after signing as a free agent last March. Barrett started all 16 games and recorded 19 sacks, which both led the league and broke Hall of Famer Warren Sapp’s franchise-record 16.5 from the 2000 season. Barrett also added 58 tackles, six forced fumble and an interception.
For giving him the chance to play consistently and “get into rhythm”, Barrett feels he owes a lot to Tampa’s coaching staff and management.
“It is important to me. It’s like all my success as a starter is down here and it’s not broke. There’s no reason for me to want to try to go fix something that’s not broke,” Barrett said. “So, I’m on board but I still do understand it’s a business so I am preparing for anything. Emotionally, I think it’s going to be down in Tampa.”
Barrett was nothing short of stellar all season and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2020, an honor that came six years after he signed with the Broncos as a undrafted free agent out of Colorado State in 2014. In four seasons with Denver — he spent his rookie year on the practice squad — Barrett started in 15 combined games and tallied 14 total sacks; it took him just one season to exceed both of those numbers.
With the Bucs having to make decisions on several of their free agents, most notably quarterback Jameis Winston, the possibility of the franchise tag is a very real one for Barrett. He is prepared to play whatever the case may be but the idea of a longer deal is certainly enticing to him.
“I’m gonna play off the tag [if] I got to but I do want that long-term deal. It’s all about security for me and my family; that’s all I’ve been fighting for my whole time in the NFL,” he said. “Even a franchise tag, I’m still getting the security too but I just want a long contract and long-term security.”