Tampa Bay didn't use the franchise tag to do it this time around, but Shaquil Barrett isn't going anywhere.
The edge rusher has agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal to remain with the Buccaneers, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Barrett was the No. 2 available player in NFL.com's top 101 free agents list.
Barrett followed up a stunning breakout 2019 campaign with similar production in 2020, but did finish with 11.5 fewer sacks than his league-leading 19.5 recorded in 2019. Unlike 2019, Barrett made his money when it counted most -- the postseason -- recording four sacks between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LV and helping Tampa's defense realize its full potential en route to a title.
By the time the clock hit triple zeroes in Tampa, the football world knew Barrett would get paid -- the only question would be who would be doing the compensating?
The answer came Monday just after the league's negotiation window officially opened, with Barrett securing a future Bucs fans wished for but many saw as unlikely. After all, with a reduced cap and multiple Buccaneers set to get paid, how could general manager Jason Licht possibly keep all of them?
Creative accounting and a collective understanding that a pursuit of another title helps, no doubt. Barrett's deal pays him a base of $17 million per year, with escalators that can get him to $18 million per year based on 15 sacks and making the postseason, Rapoport reported, and his 2021 cap hit stands at just $5.6 million. At an average annual value of $18 million per season, Barrett's new deal places him outside of the top four highest-paid edge rushers -- Khalil Mack ($23.5M), Demarcus Lawrence ($21M), Frank Clark ($20.8M) and Von Miller ($19.083M) -- and he lands in a tie with Detroit's Trey Flowers for fifth.
Barrett's signing completes a trifecta of key players staying in Tampa following the franchise's second Super Bowl victory in its history, following in the footsteps of the 2021 franchise tag recipient Chris Godwin and veteran linebacker Lavonte David. Tom Brady's contract extension, which freed up over $19 million in immediate cap space, was also significantly helpful in making the retention of the aforementioned Buccaneers possible.
The uncertainty of the offseason wasn't new to Barrett, who wasn't sure he'd be back in Tampa for 2020 before he was franchise tagged, and only landed in Tampa because he'd fizzled out of Denver. This time, he's receiving more long-term security, a nice pay bump (from $15.82 million to $18 million), and a chance to pursue a second straight championship.