While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t have the sort of disastrous offseason some experts thought they might, the work is far from over.
Training camp is beginning means players are going to be battling for roster spots, and the Bucs have experienced the type of offseason where nobody should be deemed a safe bet. There are guys who certainly won’t be released, but the first season of the post-Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay will be an important one in figuring out what the team looks like moving forward.
For their part, the Bucs coaching staff and front office have been adamant that the team will be competitive this season. Any talk of tanking has been countered with moves that suggest everyone at One Bucs Place believes the team can win a Super Bowl if things go their way.
From re-signing Jamel Dean and Lavonte David, to bringing in Baker Mayfield to revive his career and the Bucs offense, there’s not indication out of Tampa Bay that this team is going belly-up before they’re forced to do so.
That’s what makes this year’s training camp battles so much more important. The roster is being viewed through a competitive lens, rather than one of rebuilding, which is why it’s a little bizarre to see some of the choices experts are making for the Bucs as the summer months roll around.
Shaq Barrett listed as potential cap causality for Buccaneers
CBS Sports recently went over outstanding offseason needs across the league, and noted that Shaq Barrett could end up being a cap casualty for the Bucs this summer.
"Briefly one of the game’s most dominant edge rushers, Barrett is now 30 coming off an injury-shortened season, and due a whopping $21.3M in 2023, just as Tampa Bay appears to be bracing for a down year post-Tom Brady. Few clubs are likely to absorb his contract via trade, but the Bucs could save $14.6M by sending him to the open market. A handful of contenders would surely sniff around at that point, considering the former All-Pro as a rotational pass rusher."- CBS Sports
This isn’t the first time Barrett’s name has come up in regards to losing his roster spot, and it likely won’t be the last. That doesn’t mean it makes sense, even if Barrett seems like an easy target for this kind of thing.
Barrett tore his Achilles in Week 8 and missed the remainder of the season, but he’s otherwise been a stellar piece of Todd Bowles defense. While he’s an aging veteran, not much outside of his injury last season suggests that he’s declining to the point of needing to be discarded. Tampa Bay drafted some interesting pieces for the future in YaYa Diaby and Jose Ramirez, both of whom could succeed Barrett down the road, but that’s not a good enough reason to move on from an All-Pro caliber player.
Should Barrett turns in another down year, then it’s worth having a discussion about whether he has a future in Tampa Bay. Until then the Bucs need Barrett to get back to who he was in 2021 more than they need his money off the team’s books.
If the Bucs are as serious about being competitive as they’ve made it seem, they’re going to need Barrett on the roster and in the lineup.