3 Buccaneers that need to step up for the rest of the season

Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Shaquil Barrett

Shaquil Barrett is coming off of the biggest contract of his career on the franchise tag in Tampa Bay, but his production will need to improve quickly if he hopes to see more money like that in the future.

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Tampa Bay took a very cautious approach to bringing Barrett back, which was apparently the wise decision. After leading the league in sacks for most of the 2019 season and finishing as the sack leader, Barrett only has four sacks through nine games this season.

While sacks don’t tell the whole story, Barrett’s other stats don’t bode well for a long-term extension either.

Barrett finished the 2019 season with an impressive 37 quarterback hits, which indicates pressure on the quarterback that doesn’t show in the sack category. If a player has a ton of sacks but few quarterback hits, that stat can rationally be written away as a fluke. High conversions of sacks but low pressures is challenging to maintain, so Barrett was seen as a sure thing moving forward.

Unfortunately, Barrett only has seven quarterback hits so far this season, and finishing close to where he was last season is now out of the question.

Barrett’s best bet is to put on a show for the rest of the year and take one more year on a prove-it deal. Offenses have to give him far more attention now, so it was a given that his production would drop off to some degree.

Barrett is playing for his future now, and this should lead to a reliable uptick in production. If Shaq can close out the season on a decent pace, the Buccaneers should be able to bring pressure against any offensive line in the league, and the Bucs will keep a franchise pass-rusher.