The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took one major step Tuesday to ensure they maintain their Super Bowl-winning core in 2021, using their franchise tag on starting wide receiver Chris Godwin. Now, they're already working on taking another. Hours after securing Godwin's rights for at least one more season, the Buccaneers have begun talks on a long-term contract with star pass rusher Shaquil Barrett. That's according to ProFootballTalk and Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, who reported Tuesday that Tampa Bay is hoping to lock up its other top free agent ahead of the official start of the offseason next week.
"Barrett won't come cheap," Breer wrote. "(But) the Bucs have begun discussions in earnest on a long-term deal (for) ... one of the stars of Super Bowl LV and a crucial edge rusher in Todd Bowles' defense."
Both Barrett and Godwin were widely speculated as candidates to receive the Buccaneers' franchise tag ahead of free agency. With Godwin now set to play under the one-year tender in 2021 (absent a long-term agreement of his own), Barrett could still hit the open market when the NFL's legal tampering window opens March 15. He's expressed interest in re-signing with the Buccaneers dating back to last offseason, when he received the tag following a 2019 breakout, but could also demand a top-of-the-market deal that comes in out of Tampa Bay's price range.
The 28-year-old pass rusher, who originally joined the Bucs on a one-year contract in 2019 following five years with the Denver Broncos, could conceivably earn up to $20 million per season on a new deal, especially if he actually hits the market as one of free agency's top defensive ends. His numbers declined in 2020, when he logged eight sacks a year after posting a league-leading 19.5, but he still produced during Tampa Bay's Super Bowl run, in just his second season as a full-time starter.