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Bucs tag Shaq Barrett after leading NFL in sacks

Bruce Arians vowed to make sure Shaq Barrett wouldn't leave Tampa in free agency -- and he was right.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are franchise tagging Barrett, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the Buccaneers' plans. The team confirmed the move Monday afternoon.

Ranked as the No. 5 free agent in the 2020 class by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, Barrett came out of relative anonymity to lead the league in sacks with 19.5 in 2019, blazing past his combined career total of 14 and totaling eight quarterback takedowns in just his first three games. Barrett did so on a one-year deal that barely registered a blip on the average NFL enthusiast's radar after his first five years in Denver saw him contribute in spots, but not enough to retain him on a new contract.

Barrett delivered and will see a fantastic return on his bet on himself, going from playing for $5 million to what will be around $20 million, according to the average of the top five NFL salaries at his position. Quadrupling your money is a pretty good deal if you can get it.

Barrett's importance to Arians' offense was greater than quarterback, which shouldn't be all that surprising, considering Jameis Winston's 30-30 club founding in 2019 in the final year of his rookie contract and a strong free-agent class at the position. Tagging Barrett keeps the edge rusher around, a key retention after likely bidding Jason Pierre-Paul adieu this week, and preserves Tampa's chance to strike a long-term deal with the surprise contributor.

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