Shaquil Barrett

Latest On Bucs, Shaq Barrett

The Buccaneers are still up in the air as to what they want to do with Jameis Winston, but pass rusher Shaq Barrett is another story. Tampa Bay gave Barrett a one-year, $4MM deal shortly after free agency opened last March, but it’s fair to say he’s going to make a lot more than that in 2020 and beyond.

Barrett exploded with an incredible 19.5 sacks in 2019, dwarfing his previous career-high of 5.5, set in 2015. The former UDFA out of Colorado State displayed flashes of pass rushing talent during his five-year tenure in Denver, but only the Bengals and Bucs extended him a contract offer last offseason. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians was obviously thrilled with Barrett’s performance, and Arians recently indicated the team would not let Barrett get away.

Speaking at Pro Bowl practice on Wednesday, Barrett echoed Arians’ sentiments. “I don’t know where it’s going to end up at but I’m confident that I’m going to be where I should be, which I think is Tampa,” Barrett told reporters, including Scott Smith of the team’s official website (Twitter link).

Of course, it’s going to take a highly-lucrative deal to keep Barrett around. He’s in line for a contract paying him upwards of $15MM per season with $30MM or so in full guarantees, though the Bucs could buy themselves some more negotiation time by hitting Barrett with the franchise tag (depending, perhaps, on what the club elects to do with Winston). The fact that Barrett is also no slouch against the run could drive his price up even further.

Luckily, Tampa Bay will have plenty of cap space to work with, so it would be a shock to see Barrett hit the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Intend To Bring Back Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston will likely remain in Tampa Bay for the 2020 season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Buccaneers are expected to bring back the quarterback next season.

However, it’s uncertain how the organization will go about retaining the former first-overall pick. “Barring an unlikely early contract,” Rapoport notes that the Buccaneers will have the option of using either the franchise tag or the transition tag (this is thanks to it being the final offseason of the current CBA). If an opposing team signs a franchised player to an offer sheet, they have to surrender a pair of first-rounders. An opposing team doesn’t need to send compensation if they sign a transition-tagged player to an offer sheet.

This is especially relevant for the Buccaneers, as sack-leader Shaquil Barrett is also set to hit free agency this offseason. As Rapoport notes, the projected franchise tag for quarterbacks is $27MM vs. $25MM for the transition tag. Meanwhile, the franchise tag for linebackers (and, presumably, Barrett) is $16MM vs. the $14MM transition tag.

Earlier this month, coach Bruce Arians refused to commit to Winston beyond this season. And, when asked about the above report, Arians said no determinations have been made.

There’s been no decision on any player. We don’t make those decisions until the end of the season,” Arians said.

However, a bit has changed over the past few weeks. The quarterback has thrown for more than 400 yards in back-to-back games, and Tampa Bay can extend their winning streak to five against the Texans today. Winston has already set career-highs in passing yards (4,573) and touchdowns (30), but he’s also set a new mark in interceptions (24).

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NFC Notes: Floyd, Bears, Buccaneers, Barrett, Vikings, Rhodes

The Bears have obviously been having a disappointing season. A year after being one of the toasts of the league and winning the NFC North, they’ve officially been eliminated from playoff contention following their loss to the Packers. With the postseason out of reach, all eyes will now turn toward the offseason. The elephant in the room is what Chicago will do with Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterback situation, but they have some other big decisions to make as well. Linebacker Leonard Floyd is set to make $13.2MM under the fifth-year option in 2020, but that’s entirely non-guaranteed money. They can cut him this offseason with no financial penalty, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune seems to think that’s a real possibility.

In an interesting column Biggs explores Floyd’s situation, noting all the dynamics at play. Floyd is the second first-round pick that GM Ryan Pace made since taking over the front office, and the first was megabust Kevin White. As such, Pace could be motivated to keep Floyd on the team to try and validate the pick. Floyd certainly hasn’t been bad and he’s been a full-time starter for the Bears since entering the league, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s lived up to the billing of a ninth overall pick. As Biggs points out, the option would make him the tenth highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie, but only 4.5 two years ago and four last year. In 14 games this season, he has three. His money becomes guaranteed on March 18th, so the Bears will have to make a decision by then.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Speaking of NFC pass-rushers, the Buccaneers’ Shaq Barrett has been having a breakout season. He just picked up his 16.5th sack of the year this past weekend, tying the legendary Warren Sapp for the all-time single season franchise record. He’s been a bright spot all year long for this Bucs defense, and they aren’t planning on letting him get away even as he prepares to enter unrestricted free agency this spring. “He ain’t going anywhere,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Barrett, who signed a one-year, $4MM deal this offseason, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Barrett will likely be in line for a massive payday this offseason, and it sounds like the Buccaneers are ready to pay up. Barrett originally signed with the Broncos as an UDFA back in 2014, and was eventually able to get on the field as a situational rusher. He was slept on this offseason, and as we heard earlier this year, only one team other than Tampa even offered him a contract.
  • Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes played only 14 snaps against the Chargers this past weekend, but it wasn’t because of an injury. Head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that Rhodes was healthy, and that his limited action was the plan going in, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. In other words, Rhodes got benched. The 2013 first-round pick quickly became a star and one of the league’s better corners, but he’s declined rapidly. He’s still started every game this season but his snaps have declined each of the past couple weeks, as he’s been burned repeatedly. A first-team All-Pro in 2017, Rhodes is under contract through the 2022 season as part of a five-year, $70MM extension he signed with the Vikings. There’s been a lot of talk that Minnesota will move on after this season, and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens to the 29-year-old.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Steelers

David Njoku currently resides on the Browns‘ IR list, but for the time being, the third-year tight end has a chance to return in 2019. Njoku has opted not to have surgery on his broken wrist, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The earliest Njoku could return would be for the Browns’ Week 12 game against the Dolphins. Cleveland has 2019 additions Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones in place atop its tight end depth chart. The Browns must decide on Njoku’s fifth-year option by May of 2020.

Here is the latest out of Cleveland, along with other AFC North cities:

  • The Browns’ defense is facing more pressing matters. Both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams pulled hamstrings during practice Thursday, per Cabot. They missed the Rams game. Interestingly, reserve safety Sheldrick Redwine pulled a hamstring that day as well. The Browns played without their four secondary starters — Ward, Williams, Damarious Randall (concussion) and Morgan Burnett (quadriceps). However, Cabot adds that Randall is out of concussion protocol. Burnett was questionable last week. Hamstring injuries are obviously tricky for skill players and those charged with covering them, but Cleveland’s safeties seem in line to return for Week 4 against the Ravens.
  • While no one obviously expected Shaquil Barrett‘s virtuoso start, only two teams even submitted contract offers this offseason. In addition to the Bucs’ one-year, $4MM deal, the Bengals also offered Barrett a contract, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. Barrett visited the Bengals but did not meet with the Bucs before his agreement. A four-year backup in Denver, Barrett sought a starting role in free agency. He’s found one, and his eight sacks through three games match an NFL record. It’s early, but the former UDFA who began his career at a now-defunct Division II program is putting himself in position for a major payday — either via Bucs extension or as a 2020 free agent.
  • The Bengals worked out some defensive backs on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Greg Mabin, Picasso Nelson and Deatrick Nichols joined corner/safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun in auditioning for the team, per the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Steelers auditioned tight end Alize Mack, according to Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (on Twitter). Vance McDonald was present Tuesday with his arm in a sling, pointing to Pittsburgh suddenly needing help at this position.

Contract Details: Ingram, Suggs, Kendricks

Here are the latest details from some agreed-upon contracts during the second wave of free agency. All links courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, unless otherwise noted.

Buccaneers To Sign Shaq Barrett

The Buccaneers have agreed to sign Shaquil Barrett, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. It’s a one-year deal for the Bucs and the former Broncos linebacker.

Barrett drew some interest on the open market and met with the Bengals on Thursday. Ultimately, he wound up in a warmer climate. The UDFA success story, though, did not land a long-term deal. He agreed to a one-year, $5MM Bucs contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Broncos discussed a new deal with Barrett, but he aimed for more playing time this offseason. At the end of last season, Barrett publicly declared he wanted to be a full-time starter in 2019.

“I want to start. I want to be a guy somewhere. I don’t want to just be a role player,” Barrett said. “I can’t do it. … Reserve role is done for me, unless that’s the only role I got after this year. But that’s not what I’m looking for going into free agency,” Barrett said at the time.

Barrett put himself on the map with 5.5 sacks in 2015. He hasn’t been able to replicate that production since, mostly due to lack of playing time, but the Broncos thought highly enough of him to put a second round tender on him last offseason.

While Barrett’s sack numbers are not eye-popping, he was one of the better run defenders at his position during his Denver years. He became a more reliable cog than former first-round pick Shane Ray, and this continued in the duo’s contract years — Barrett being the Broncos’ top off-the-bench option and Ray ending his season as a healthy scratch.

This move crystallizes the Broncos’ need for edge help off the bench, with the team’s run of depth at this position ending with this signing, the Bucs have a proven defender that could perhaps push for a starting role in Todd Bowles‘ 3-4 defense. Jason Pierre-Paul remains on the Bucs’ roster but has never functioned as a 3-4 outside linebacker, a role in which Barrett has played exclusively. Tampa Bay also released Vinny Curry earlier this offseason.

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Shaquil Barrett To Visit Bengals

The Bengals are looking for pass-rushing help. Cincinnati is hosting outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett on a visit later today, a source told Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com.

Barrett is testing the open market for the first time since entering the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2014. He signed with the Broncs originally, and has spent the last five years in Denver. The last we heard was that the Broncos “have had good conversations” with Barrett’s agent, so it certainly seems like he isn’t ruling out a return to Denver.

But Barrett has made it clear he’s looking for more playing time, and he might be able to find it in Cincinnati. At the end of last season, Barrett publicly declared he wanted to be a full-time starter in 2019.

“I want to start. I want to be a guy somewhere. I don’t want to just be a role player,” Barrett said. “I can’t do it. … Reserve role is done for me, unless that’s the only role I got after this year. But that’s not what I’m looking for going into free agency,” Barrett said at the time.

Barrett spent his rookie season on the Broncos’ practice squad, then burst onto the scene in 2015 with 5.5 sacks. He hasn’t been able to replicate that production since, mostly due to lack of playing time, but the Broncos thought highly enough of him to put a second round tender on him last offseason. With the Broncos’ staple of pass-rushers, Barrett was never going to be an every down player in Denver. Last year Barrett played right around 25% of the defensive snaps, and was also a key player on special teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Amos, Barrett, Paradis, James

Here’s the latest on the Broncos, with all links going to Troy Renck of Denver7’s Twitter:

Shaquil Barrett Seeking Starting Role

At full strength, the Broncos feature one of the deepest edge-rushing groups in the NFL. That appears set to change going into 2019.

Both Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray are headed for free agency. Ray has been a healthy scratch the past two games, and Barrett no longer has intentions of being a backup. The UDFA success story said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) he will be eyeing a team that will give him a starting role. With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb entrenched as Broncos starters, Barrett’s probably about to play his final game as a Bronco on Sunday.

I want to start. I want to be a guy somewhere. I don’t want to just be a role player,” Barrett said. “I can’t do it. … Reserve role is done for me, unless that’s the only role I got after this year. But that’s not what I’m looking for going into free agency.”

Barrett has never been a high-end sack artist, but then again, the Colorado State product has not enjoyed a consistent starting opportunity. A plus run defender, Barrett may still receive a chance to start in free agency. Pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark and Ziggy Ansah are slated for free agency. Only Ansah figures to be a lock to reach the market. Teams annually retain top-tier pass rushers, opening the door for players on Barrett’s level to cash in.

Brandon Graham, Trey Flowers, Brian Orakpo, Bruce Irvin, Preston Smith, Markus Golden and Clay Matthews do make 2019 an interesting year to need a pass rusher. Some of these players will reach free agency. Barrett has seven sacks over the past two years and did start nine games in 2017 but played behind DeMarcus Ware and now Chubb for full seasons as well. Denver slapped a second-round RFA tender on Barrett this year.

The Broncos have Barrett, Ray, Matt Paradis, Bradley Roby and Jared Veldheer among a deep group of UFAs-to-be. The only way it appears Barrett will cycle back to Denver is if his market underwhelms.

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Broncos’ Jeff Heuerman, Shaquil Barrett Suffer Injuries

The Broncos have climbed back into the AFC wild card race after consecutive wins, but their most recent victory saw key contributors go down.

Both Jeff Heuerman and Shaquil Barrett suffered injuries during the Broncos’ 24-17 win over the Steelers, and in the tight end’s case, that will mean an IR trip. Heuerman has broken ribs and a bruised lung and is out for the rest of the season, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). Vance Joseph confirmed Heuerman, whom Klis notes broke three ribs, is done for the year.

Barrett, used as an off-the-bench pass rusher, will be out for a few weeks because of a hip flexor issue, Klis adds.

While the Broncos have a deep group of edge defenders, they are now quite thin at tight end. Jake Butt is already on IR. Matt LaCosse, who scored his first touchdown Sunday, will be the next man up. Klis adds (via Twitter) the Broncos are expected to promote Temarrick Hemingway from their practice squad.

A fourth-year tight end out of Ohio State, Heuerman’s delivered his best season since arriving in Denver as a third-round pick. Injuries and inconsistency previously ailed Heuerman, but he’d become a steady option for Case Keenum since the trade of Demaryius Thomas. Heuerman caught 18 passes over the past three games and has 281 receiving yards this season. This, though, will be a tough blow for his value. A free agent-to-be, Heuerman only has 49 career catches for 564 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons.

The Broncos hope Barrett, also a contract-year player, will miss only two games, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. He was one of this year’s top restricted free agents, and the Broncos applied as second-round tender to their 2014 UDFA find. A plus run defender in a high-end pass-rushing group, Barrett has three sacks this season. Denver still has 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray as a key second-string edge rusher, and UDFA Jeff Holland resides on its practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.