We could be looking at one of the biggest free agency periods in recent memory if some of the notable names actually hit the open market. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Derrick Henry are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 18th. One or more stands a good chance of signing a contract with their current team before then, but there is a chance one or more is taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 16th.
2019 in review
Shaq Barrett had a breakout season in a huge way in 2019 as he stacked 19.5 sacks to lead the league. Those 19.5 sacks were 5.5 more than he had in his four years with the Broncos, but he also was playing behind a strong front in Denver and was more of a rotational player. That many sacks might be somewhat inflated but there’s no doubt that Barrett is a solid defender. Of course, in free agency, the sack numbers could end up getting him more cash than a team should pay.
Who could use 19.5 sacks? Every single team in the league of course. But, we can’t expect those numbers even if he returns to Tampa Bay. So, the question is, who can overpay for a good defensive edge player without hurting their overall team? Right now, the Cardinals and Ravens look set up to do just that, as they have plenty of cap space. The Cardinals need some difference makers on defense to help get Kyler Murray the ball while the Ravens are always looking to make their already strong defense into a Super Bowl defense.
Do the Bucs want to keep him?
Yes, the Bucs do want to keep Barrett, as Bruce Arians has said multiple times. He also isn’t worried about overpaying for Barrett’s sack numbers, saying, “You don’t get 19 and a half [sacks] being a one-year wonder. He’s not a fly-by-night guy. It’s going to be real for a long time.” The Bucs are sitting well with cap space. But, if they want to keep their top ranked rush defense and Barrett’s ability to get to the quarterback, they’ll also need to pay Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh. Arians believes they can keep the band together though. If they can’t get a long-term deal done, they’ll likely go the transition or franchise tag route.
Barrett isn’t going to put up 19.5 sacks again this year, but if he stays with the Bucs, which is most-likely, he’ll be in a good situation to again put up good sack numbers for IDP leaguers. His presence is needed for the Bucs in real life, but for the Bucs passing game, a bad defense would give them more opportunities to put up numbers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Feb 28: The Bucs are strongly considering using their franchise tag on Barrett if they cannot get a long-term deal done, per Adam Schefter.