The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be well-advised to keep star edge rusher Shaquil Barrett on the franchise tag for 2020.
Shaq Barrett wants a generational payday. He should. And the Buccaneers should make him earn it for one more season.
Barrett, 27, signed last offseason with the Buccaneers on a one-year deal following four seasons with the Denver Broncos. After notching a total of 14.5 sacks with Denver, Barrett exploded with the Buccaneers, totaling a league-leading 19.5 sacks in 2019.
Now, Barrett sits on the franchise tag, worth $15.8 million. However, Barrett is yet to sign the tag, giving him the ability to hold out of training camp. This is especially pertinent this summer, considering the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement says a player under contract can’t hold out for even one day without losing an accrued year towards free agency.
Of course, if Barrett doesn’t sign the tag, he isn’t under contract. On Wednesday, he told reporters he remains unsure whether he’ll do so in the coming days and weeks.
What should the Buccaneers do with Shaq Barrett?
For Tampa Bay, the choice seems fairly simple. If Barrett wants be paid as one of the elite pass-rushers in the league — as he was in 2020 — make him play another dominant 16+ games and then tag him again before paying out an enormous sum. If Barrett reverts to an average player, either sign him relatively cheap in 2021 or let him walk for a potential compensatory pick.
Of course, the other scenario is paying Barrett on a short-term deal worth close to $20 million annually, putting him on par with Frank Clark and DeMarcus Lawrence.
However, while those players got approximately 60 percent of their deals guaranteed, Tampa Bay could give itself some insurance by giving Barrett a significantly lesser percentage in guarantees, allowing the Bucs to get out of the deal if he doesn’t perform.
In this case, Barrett would need to keep producing to earn his long-term cash, but also gets life-changing money right now.