Shaq Barrett reveals the team he really wanted to sign with in free agency

It turns out the Dolphins weren't his first -- or even third -- choice in free agency.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Free agency was surprsingly busy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially when compared to how things went last year.

Rather than spending big money on new players, the Bucs focused on bringing back guys who they think can help them run things back while also building on all of the momentum and success the team experienced.

Not everyone is returning, though.

Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans returned on deals that add up to around $150 million, while Antoine Winfield Jr. is set for a massive extension before the season starts. Guys like Lavonte David, Chase Edmonds, and others were brought back as well, which means a few guys needed to be sacraficed to make space.

Shaq Barrett was the most painful cap casualty. Tampa Bay released him ahead of the legal tampering window opening to maximize the time he had to find a new team, something that led him to sign with the Miami Dolphins.

As it turns out, that wasn't the first place he had in mind after hearing the Bucs were moving on.

Shaq Barrett reveals the team he really wanted to sign with in free agency

Barrett continued his welcome tour in Miami but made some interesting comments when it came to how he ended up with the Dolphins. It turns out there was another AFC East team he was hoping to join in free agency.

His first, second, and third choice -- as Barrett puts it -- was joining Robert Saleh's New York Jets defense.

Barrett was a massively important piece of Tampa Bay's Super Bowl back in 2020, using what he learned while winning a ring with Denver five years prior to help lead a young defense to glory. It resulted in a nice new contract for him, and the impact of his time with the Bucs is going to be felt long after he's gone.

Yaya Diaby, who is already on the rise as one of the next great Bucs linebackers, cited Barrett as a mentor and posted a touching tribute to him after he was released. Barrett's leadership extends beyond just the relationship and to the locker room as a whole, which is likely why the Dolphins wanted him so badly.

Imagining him with Saleh in New York is devastating as it's hard to imagine Barrett not being able to tap back into what made him special with the Bucs. He's already vowed to make Tampa Bay sorry for letting him go, which would have been immediate upon learning he signed with the Jets.

Going down to Miami is a pretty great fit for Barrett as well, and it's going to be tough for Bucs fans not to pull for him making good on his promise given how well-liked he remains in Tampa Bay.

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