Shaquil Barrett had three sacks against Aaron Rodgers? That should do it.
In almost every mock draft that comes out, the Buccaneers are usually tied to a pass rusher in the first round. If Shaquil Barrett’s current postseason is any indication of the future, the Bucs will have two above-average pass rushers locked up for 2021, making most of these mock drafts extremely outdated.
Eight sacks during the regular season was a stark drop-off from the league-leading numbers that Barrett posted during 2019. Barrett saw his impressive stats from 2019 deplete by more than half in most instances, but this was expected.
Any player who leads the league in sacks will draw a hefty amount of attention from the offensive game plan. Barrett saw far more double teams than ever before, but the entire Buccaneer defense benefitted from the added focus on one player.
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According to ESPN, the Bucs finished the 2020 regular season tied for the fourth-best pass rush win rate in the NFL. Barrett saw his stats drop off, but the entire pass rush took massive strides forward when other players faced weaker blocking.
With the entire Buccaneer defense improving and a dominant three-sack performance against Aaron Rodgers in the game to go to the Super Bowl, Barrett has proven that he deserves to make top-tier money.
You sign a franchise pass rusher to make the rest of your team great during the regular season and to take the game into their own hands in the playoffs. That is precisely what Shaquil Barrett accomplished on the franchise tag.
Media darling Khalil Mack had one more sack than Barrett in the regular season, the same numbers of tackles for loss, fewer tackles, and fewer quarterback hits than Barrett, yet he made the Pro Bowl, and no one in the league questions his salary. Box score watching clearly does not do a player justice in terms of impact and contract negotiation.
Shaquil Barrett put the Buccaneers on his back in NFCC
Regular season aside, the Buccaneers should give Barrett a massive deal based on his NFC Championship performance alone. Barrett’s three sacks against Rodgers are likely what prevented Green Bay from mounting a comeback, and most fans can appreciate rewarding a player who bears most of the responsibility for the current Super Bowl opportunity.
With the draft coming up in a few months, the Buccaneers have to ask themselves the following: can a rookie sack Aaron Rodgers three times in one game? Will a rookie draw double teams during the regular season to give William Gholston one of the highest pass-rush win rates in the NFL as an interior lineman? The answer to both of these questions is a firm no.
It may be difficult with the current cap situation, but the Buccaneers have no choice but to keep Barrett in Tampa Bay for as long as possible. The defense is far better when Barrett is on the field, and the Bucs can’t start playing it safe when a franchise pass-rusher fell in their lap.