Shaq Barrett is the first Buccaneers cap casualty of the offseason

Tampa Bay is moving on from the two-time Pro Bowler ahead of a $15M bonus being due.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

While the NFL salary cap might have gone up by a historic mark this offseason, that doesn't mean teams won't have tough decisions to make. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made one of those this week, deciding to release veteran pass rusher Shaq Barrett.

Barrett spent the last five years with the Bucs after coming over in free agency from the Denver Broncos in 2019. In that time he went to two Pro Bowls, helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl, and became an important piece on one of the league's best defenses.

His impact was felt on and off the field, from young players looking at him as a mentor who they will carry the torch from, to the work that he did to help make the comminity better. Releasing Barrett is a business decision, but it's not one that should be taken lightly.

Buccaneers release Shaq Barrett ahead of free agency

When the new league year starts next month, Barrett will be among the veterans looking for work. Ian Rapoport reported from the NFL Combine that the Bucs would be moving on from Barrett as part of the team's effort to clear some cap space.

The move is actually less about creating cap space and more about saving some cash. Barrett was due a $15 million bonus, but instead of paying it the Bucs will save it that money. Tampa Bay will ultimately save $5 million in cap space -- which is important -- but it allows the team to spread dead money from his deal across two seasons rather than accelerating it to this year, which is where the cash is saved versus the cap space.

Where that becomes key is in finding ways to re-sign Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans, something taht could be easier by sacraficing Barrett.

That's all financial mumbo jumbo, though. The Bucs are saying goodbye to someone who was a key figure in more than a few ways for the team over the years. Barrett played his way into a nice big contract after helping Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2020 and has been with the team through ups and downs both on and off the field.

Fans and players rallied around him with support after the tragic death of his two-year-old daughter, and were among the first to celebrate the announcement that he and his wife were expecting a child late last year.

Barrett was a solid rock in the locker room and made an impact in the community, and he's going to be missed on more than just Sundays in Tampa Bay.

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