TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While the spotlight for the better part of this week has been on Tom Brady, not to be lost in the shuffle is the major news that the Buccaneers placed their franchise tag on their Pro Bowl linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
The team made it official on Monday, securing the NFL’s 2019 sacks leader to the tune of $15.828 million.
Many NFL players don’t like the franchise tag, as they would prefer a longer deal and that long-term security. But in Barrett’s case, both sides are working towards that, and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve been feeling the love since day one,” Barrett said. “I’m very appreciative that they want me for another year and that we’re still working to get a multi-year deal done. So I’m excited for what the future’s got in-store for Tampa. I love the organization, love everything about it, love the city. There’s no other place I would rather be right now.”
2019 was Barrett’s first year with the Bucs, after spending the previous four with the Broncos, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State. During that span in Denver, Barrett recorded 14 total sacks. Last season alone he had 19.5.
That mark of 19.5 sacks was good enough to set a Bucs single-season franchise record and also lead the NFL. Even for Barrett, it’s hard to believe the break-out year he had last season.
“No, I couldn’t imagine that jump,” Barrett said. “I could imagine maybe a double-digit sack year but not being the sack leader this year, not going to the Pro Bowl. All that is stuff that I wanted. It’s goals of mine, but I didn’t think it’d come this quickly. Going from 25 percent of the snaps to 85 to 90 percent of the snaps. That helped a lot. And like I was saying, just being down here where I’m comfortable, they make me feel comfortable, make me feel loved. That means a lot and it’s showing with my production on the field.”
And there’s no slowing-down for 2020.
“That’s my goal every year, to get better statistically every year,” he said. “I know I set the bar high this year but we’re adding another game so it’s a possibility that I could get 20 next year and then 20.5 after that!”
If he can have another career year leading the Bucs’ defense, he knows the offense will handle their business too now in the hands of six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady.
“I’ve been wanting to get back to winning football, being a contender, going to the playoffs, having a chance to be a champion,” Barrett said. “With Tom Brady that instantly took our chances up a lot.”
But he was quick to show love for former Bucs starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
“I like Jameis,” Barrett said. “I was talking to somebody yesterday and we were saying if Jameis is cool with it, he could come back and learn from Tom for the next two years and we’ll still be in good hands with Jameis after that. I thought that was a good idea.”
Shortly after this interview with Barrett, Winston shared a farewell-type post on social media Saturday morning, essentially thanking the Bucs and the city of Tampa for five great years.
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