The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a long list of key free agents, but were confident they could keep the core of their team together for another season.
Their plan is coming together. Chris Godwin is staying on the franchise tag, Lavonte David agreed to an extension last week and on Monday, just as the so-called legal tampering period was to begin, pass rusher Shaq Barrett told NFL reporter Josina Anderson he was going back to Tampa Bay. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported it was a four-year deal worth up to $72 million with $36 million guaranteed.
That's huge news for the Buccaneers, who are coming off a Super Bowl win and want to chase another one.
Shaq Barrett's return big for Bucs
Barrett was a key signing for the Buccaneers in 2019. The Denver Broncos had Barrett in a backup role but didn't understand how good he was because they allowed him to go to Tampa Bay on a small one-year deal. Barrett became one of the best edge rushers in the NFL and was given the franchise tag in 2020.
The franchise tag wasn't an option for Barrett this year because the team used it on Godwin. Barrett, who has 27.5 sacks the past two seasons, is just 28 years old and could have scored a huge contract on the open market. Pass rushers like Barrett don't hit free agency often.
The allure of staying with the Buccaneers was strong. Barrett returns to team with Jason Pierre-Paul as one of the best pass-rush duos in the NFL.
Buccaneers have other key free agents
The Buccaneers still have players like Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown about to hit free agency. Their plan to retain their top players is working so far.
They're paying a lot to retain Godwin, David and Barrett, so there won't be a lot of salary-cap space left over for anyone else. But Tampa Bay will keep trying to re-sign as many of its key players as possible.
The Buccaneers have one championship with this group, and think they're capable of another.
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