The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not messing around in their drive for back-to-back Super Bowl titles.
After freeing up space by restructuring Tom Brady’s contract, the Bucs were able to give edge-rusher Shaquil Barrett the bag he deserved in the form of a lucrative four-year, $72 million contract that includes $36 million in guarantees, Barrett’s agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The base deal will average $17 million a year with escalators (15+ sacks, reaching postseason in previous season) that could boost it to $18 million, sources told ESPN.
The Bucs used a little bit of fancy footwork with this contract, making Barrett’s base salary in 2021 a meager $1.25 million while his $18.75 million signing bonus will be prorated over five years to keep his salary-cap hit low with a voidable fifth year, sources said. That clever structuring has allowed the Bucs to serve their man up a well-earned contract while keeping his cap hit at a reasonable $6 million in 2021.
Thanks in large part to Brady’s restructure, which opened up $19 million in cap space for Tampa Bay—who had been $5 million over the cap before that—the Bucs were able to get the Barrett deal done.
It seems there is one mind over there as everyone at the Buccaneers organization is working towards keeping the team together for a run at becoming the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners since Brady and the Pats did it in 2003-2004.
They’ve also hit wideout Chris Godwin with a franchise tag that will net the flourishing pass catcher $15.808 million in 2021 and re-signed linebacker LaVonte David to a $25 million deal that also freed up a little bit of cap space for the team.
Brady, Arians, and Co. have not been shy about their push to “go for two,” and with most of their 2020 Super Bowl-winning roster returning, a look at their +800 odds to win the Super Bowl (888sport) next season could be a great early bet for the 2021 NFL campaign. If not that, then their +400 NFL odds to win the NFC Championship would seem like a nearly airtight wager.
Tampa Bay’s front office has gotten a lot done, but it still has its work cut out for it, with important contributors including tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Antonio Brown, kicker Ryan Succop, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh all heading to free agency without a new deal before March 17th.
Nonetheless, the Barrett deal was one of the team’s priorities, so they have to be ecstatic to have gotten it done early and in a way that allows them flexibility in the short term.
The Baltimore, Maryland native started his NFL career with the Denver Broncos and served as an intriguing if underused player in Denver’s stable of pass-rushers. After being let go by the Broncos after five seasons, the Bucs offered the then-26-year-old a measly $5 million prove-it deal.
Barrett promptly did just that, pacing the NFL with a whopping 19.5 sacks in 2019, earning himself a trip to the Pro Bowl, and getting a Second-Team All-Pro selection. Barrett was franchise tagged by the Bucs after that display, and though his sack numbers dipped significantly to eight in 2020, he was still a menace.
He led the NFL with 74 pressures according to ESPN Stats & Information, and really turned up the heat in the playoffs, giving Aaron Rodgers nightmares with three sacks in the NFC Championship before serving Patrick Mahomes a similarly rude awakening with a sack and four hits in their Super Bowl meeting.
The Colorado State alumnus has amassed 41.5 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, and 266 tackles across a seven-year career in the NFL.