Flash forward to Sunday, as the 27-year-old edge rusher gobbled sack No. 16.5 of the season, which leads the NFL and tied Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record.
Barrett's relentless production has him poised to cash in this offseason.
After the Bucs' 38-17 win over Detroit, coach Bruce Arians was asked about Barrett's status as a pending free agent.
The Bucs certainly will want to keep Barrett around. It could cost a pretty penny, though, with few top-level edge rushers ever hitting the open market. The franchise tag could be an option for Tampa to keep Barrett at least one more season, but that could hinge on their decision with Jameis Winston and the quarterback position. The Bucs have 19 pending unrestricted free agents, complicating matters.
Barrett, in his first full year as a starter after mostly spending time as a rotational player in Denver for five seasons, has been a marvel, constantly bedeviling blockers with an array of speed/strength moves. He owns the quickness to bend the edge, yet the power to bull through bigger tackles.
"I love that he said that," Barrett said when asked about Arians' comments. "I want to be there. That's my goal. It just worked out perfectly for me. I can't be more blessed. It's God's plan. I wouldn't have been here if it was my plan. I'm just happy the Bucs gave me a chance. I made the most out of that chance. ... I'm just happy. I'm grateful and very appreciative."
With two games left, Barrett is now aiming to sit alone with the franchise record.
"Sapp did a lot in the NFL, for the Bucs," he said. "[He] helped me out at the pass-rush summit, taught me a couple moves and how to do some stuff, so it's amazing to be etched in stone next to him. But I said my goal is to be solo so that's what I'm going for next week."