NFL News & Analysis

2021 NFL Free Agency: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge Shaquil Barrett agrees to 4-year, $72 million deal

Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are inching every bit closer to “running it back” in 2021, as defender Shaquil Barrett has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal to stay with the Super Bowl 55 champions.

After many (including us) thought that he would get in the area of $20 million or more annually, Barrett ended up signing a four-year contract worth up to $72 million, with $36 million guaranteed. 

One of the more efficient pass-rushers in the league over the past few years, Barrett has put up solid production whether in a part-time or full-time role. He's graded “in the green” as both a run defender and as a pass-rusher in all five years of his career, as he sets a hard edge in the run game and wins with good hands and a variety of moves when attacking the pocket.

He's spent most of his career playing in more of a classic 3-4 outside linebacker role, dropping into coverage at least 50 times a year and playing mainly from a standup role.

A year after the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs brought back 20-of-22 starters, the Bucs appear heading in that direction after securing the title, retaining Barrett and linebacker Lavonte David and franchise tagging wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Barrett has shown the value of advanced statistics over his entire career, especially for players that rush the passer.  As we wrote about going into the Super Bowl, it appeared from the naked eye that Barrett disappointed in 2020, with his regular-season sack total falling from 19.5 in 2019 to eight in 2020. 

However, the instability of sack rate relative to pressure rate manifested itself in a good way for Barrett and the Bucs in the playoffs, where he converted 21 total pressures into four sacks (19%) after a regular season where he converted just 10% of his pressures into sacks. 

Barrett’s best trait is his ability to mix up his pass rushes to keep offensive linemen off balance. He’s not an elite athlete, so he has to use all the tools he’s procured over his career.

That, of course, means changing his pace and footwork at times and coming at tackles with different pass-rush moves with his hands. If all else fails, he can use his power to push the lineman back into the quarterback's lap. He’s become a well-rounded player because he’s found ways to win without elite athleticism.

After a season in which the Bucs were one of the most efficient offenses in terms of turning cap dollars into WAR, they were able to seal the deal in the playoffs in many ways because they were top-10 in turning cap dollars into WAR along the defensive line and in the secondary (they were first in doing so at cornerback and safety, individually). 

With increased investment in Barrett comes pressure for these things to repeat themselves in 2021, a big task given the instability of defense year to year. If the Bucs falter in 2021, such a regression will likely be the reason. Still, at this price tag, it’s hard to fault the Bucs for buying back into what got them the Lombardi for the first time since 2002. 

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