OCTOBER 31: The Buccaneers announced on Monday that Barrett has officially been placed on IR. That opens up a roster spot for a potential replacement, though no players of his caliber will be readily available so close to the trade deadline, of course. Tampa Bay sits in the middle of the pack with respect to cap space.
OCTOBER 28, 11:43am: Barrett’s MRI confirmed the tear, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This is a tough break for Barrett and the Buccaneers, given the outside linebacker’s age and the team’s 3-5 record.
OCTOBER 28, 8:32am: Reeling after a fifth loss in six games, the Buccaneers are staring at an equation that does not include their top pass rusher. Although tests are still to come, the team fears Shaq Barrett suffered a torn Achilles during Thursday night’s defeat, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).
Barrett will undergo an MRI on Friday, but these ominous reports usually precede major injuries. This stands to be Barrett’s longest absence as a pro and deal a significant blow to Tampa Bay’s defense, a unit already battling uphill due to the state of the team’s offense.
Set to turn 30 next month, Barrett has been the Bucs’ top rush presence since signing a one-year deal in 2019. The former Broncos UDFA led the NFL with 19.5 sacks that year, prompting the Bucs to join nearly half the league in using their franchise tag during the 2020 offseason. Barrett is now signed to a four-year, $68MM deal — one that runs through the 2024 season.
The Bucs have not needed to play without Barrett for an extended stretch since he joined the team. The Colorado State product has missed just three games over the past three-plus seasons. He and Jason Pierre-Paul were instrumental in delivering the Bucs their second Super Bowl title, providing consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes to close out that championship march.
Barrett combined for four sacks and eight quarterback hits in the Bucs’ final two games in 2020; his Super Bowl LV dominance led Todd Bowles‘ unit becoming the third defense to hold an opponent without a touchdown in a Super Bowl. As the Bucs brought back their entire championship core in 2021, they gave Barrett his sought-after deal.
After Barrett made his second Pro Bowl in 2021, the team moved on from Pierre-Paul. The elder edge rusher ended up signing with the Ravens, facing his former team Thursday night. Tampa Bay now has 2021 first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in place as its top healthy pass rusher. Tryon-Shoyinka has 1.5 sacks and three QB hits this season. Backup edge rushers Carl Nassib, who returned to the Bucs after a Raiders stay this offseason, and Anthony Nelson have two apiece. Both should be expected to play bigger roles for Bowles’ defense, should Barrett indeed have sustained this major injury. Nelson will replace Barrett as a starter.
No guaranteed money remains on Barrett’s contract. Next season will be his 10th in the NFL; he is set to count $21.65MM against the cap in 2023.