The Buccaneers’ lack of cap space did not stop them from making big time moves in free agency. In fact, they made one of the shrewdest deals of any team this offseason by signing former Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett to a one-year, $5 million contract.
The former undrafted free agent was a steal for Denver in 2014. Though he was typically used as a rotational pass rusher, Barrett made the most of his time on the field, recording 14 sacks and 35 quarterback hits in the past four years and 75 total quarterback pressures in the past three seasons according to Pro Football Focus.
Barrett’s production dipped last season as he lost playing time to fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb. In addition to recording just three sacks, Pro Football Focus noted Barrett had just 13 pressures on 127 snaps. The Bucs would likely also rely on Barrett as a rotational player while balancing sufficient opportunities for his pass rush to be effective.
In any case, the Bucs got a true bargain in Barrett. By comparison, the LA Rams paid Dante Fowler more than double what the Bucs paid Barrett though their statistical production over the past three years is comparable. Fowler has 16 sacks and 27 QB hits in 47 games to Barrett’s 8.5 sacks and 23 QB hits in 45 games over the past three seasons.
Quality pass-rushers are hard to find in the NFL and even harder to find when shopping on a budget. The Bucs plundered free agency for a valuable depth piece in Barrett who could help rejuvenate the Tampa Bay defense without stretching the salary cap in 2019.