Bucs’ Shaquil Barrett ‘still up in the air’ about signing franchise tag


TAMPA — The Bucs insist that linebacker Shaquil Barrett is not a one-year wonder after he came out of nowhere to lead the NFL with 19½ sacks last season.

Now Barrett would like them to back up that statement with more than a one-year contract.

Barrett is one of five remaining NFL players who has yet to sign his franchise tag tender, worth $15.8 million to him for next season. He has until a July 15 deadline to agree on a multiyear extension. After that, Barrett can sign only a one-year contract, which can’t be extended until after the season.

Related: Bucs’ Shaquil Barrett: I can give my kids better opportunities

The Bucs used the nonexclusive franchise tag on Barrett, meaning he is free to negotiate with other teams but the Bucs would have the right to match any offer. If they decided not to match, they would receive two first-round draft picks, making it unlikely Barrett is going anywhere

The $15.8 million is a sizable bump from the one-year, $4 million deal Barrett signed last year as free agent coming from the Broncos. But after surpassing Warren Sapp’s season franchise sack record of 16½, set in 2000, Barrett knew he was in for a big payday from the Bucs.

Initially, Barrett said he would play under the one-year franchise player tag. But appearing on NFL Total Access on Wednesday on the NFL Network, he appeared to change course.

“It’s still up in the air right now,” said Barrett, “about 50-50.”

Not only did Barrett lead the NFL in sacks and shatter the Bucs’ season record last year, he also led the league with 37 quarterback hits and was third with six forced fumbles. His 68 quarterback pressures ranked third in the league.

Barrett, 27, spent five seasons with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent from Colorado State, signing in 2014. He had 14 career sacks with them.

In March, Barrett said he was hoping for a long-term deal from the Bucs but willing to play under the one-year franchise tender.

‘‘I’m going play off the tag (if) I got to, but I want that long-term deal,” Barrett said at the time. ‘’It’s all about security for me and my family. That’s all I’ve been fighting for my whole time in the NFL. Even the franchise tag, I’m still getting security, too. I just want a long contract and long-term security.”

The Bucs have gone all-in on trying to win a Super Bowl, getting a two-year window with quarterback Tom Brady signing in free agency this year. But along with Barrett, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also are on one-year deals.

Though the Bucs would like to lock up Barrett long term, it wouldn’t hurt them to see how he starts 2020 while playing under the franchise tag. The Bucs also want to sign receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Lavonte David to contract extensions.

Bengals receiver A.J. Green, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and Broncos safety Justin Simmons are the other players who have not signed their franchise player tenders.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com or (727) 709-5982. Follow @NFLSTROUD.



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