The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still reveling in their Super Bowl LV victory, but there is plenty of work Bruce Arians and the front office will have to accomplish this offseason. The Buccaneers have several notable free agents to extend such as Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin, but they also want to keep the defensive side of the ball together. Veteran linebacker Lavonte David was all but guaranteed an extension from Arians this week, but what about star pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett?
Barrett and the Bucs failed to reach an agreement on an extension last offseason, and the Pro Bowler was franchise tagged. While he made a cool $15.8 million in 2020, he's ready for a big contract extension this time around. During a Thursday interview with Adam Schein on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio, Barrett said he feels like it's time for a big payday.
"I'm most definitely looking forward to getting a long-term deal done..." Barrett told Schein, via NFL.com. "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. I'm still learning, like just still learning, like week in, week out. And there's like, as you can see as the season progressed like ... I ended the season playing the way that I wanted to play. And you can see that I did progress throughout the season, and I'm still progressing."
Barrett proved to be a huge pickup for the Buccaneers in 2019, as he recorded an NFL-best 19.5 sacks. The former undrafted free agent out of Colorado State didn't have that same kind of production in 2020, as he recorded 57 combined tackles and eight sacks in 15 games, but he was still an important player on this defense. Barrett also stepped up for the Bucs in the playoffs, as he recorded three sacks in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, and then one sack on Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers have a projected $28,396,683 million available in salary-cap space (per Over The Cap). Barrett did tell Schein that he hopes he can stay in Tampa, but concessions will likely need to be made somewhere this offseason.
"I do still want to have a great fit for me and a great fit for the family," Barrett said. "So whatever that turns out to be. But I do 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. But, I'm looking forward to trying to get something done here."
The Buccaneers' pass-rush and defensive front at large were the main reason the Bucs were able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Elite pass-rushers are valued highly on the open market, so if Barrett wants to truly "break the bank," he could be playing football elsewhere in 2021. Arians is confident that the Buccaneers will be able to retain their pending free agents and make another run at a title, but that will take flexibility from both sides.