Buccaneers' Updated Salary Cap After Shaquil Barrett, Rob Gronkowski Contracts

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) reacts after a play during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
Steve Luciano/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are reportedly retaining two key pieces from their Super Bowl run.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday the Bucs and linebacker Shaquil Barrett to a four-year, $72 million contract before he could become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday. The deal includes $36 million in guaranteed money. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network noted it carries a team-friendly $5.6 million salary-cap hit for 2021.

Schefter also reported tight end Rob Gronkowski agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract. According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, $8 million is guaranteed and the remaining $2 million is triggered by various incentives.

The Bucs entered the day with $14 million in cap space, according to ESPN's Jenna Laine.

Tampa Bay entered the offseason with more than two dozen free agents, and a vast majority of them were unrestricted, which made it virtually impossible to keep together the entire roster that helped the franchise capture the Super Bowl LV title last month.

Quarterback Tom Brady reworked his contract with an extension featuring voidable years, which created an additional $19 million in cap space for 2021, per Schefter.

That at least gave the front office a chance to keep some of its more prominent free agents, and Barrett was a key defensive cornerstone atop the list of players to retain.

The 28-year-old Colorado State product led the NFL in sacks with 19.5 in 2019, which was his first season in Tampa after four years with the Denver Broncos. He finished with eight sacks in 2020, but he took down the quarterback four times in the team's four playoff games.

In all, he's registered 266 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 12 passes defended, and an interception across 92 career regular-season games.

Barrett's return should ensure the Buccaneers once again feature one of the NFL's top linebacker groups in 2021 as he's joined by Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White and Lavonte David. It's a key part of a defense that ranked sixth in yards allowed during the 2020 campaign.

"Returning to Tampa Bay is definitely option A," Barrett told ESPN's Josina Anderson earlier Monday before the legal tampering period opened for free agents.

Getting the deal done quickly should help the Bucs' front office to other areas of the roster, but the resources are limited given the need to have some financial flexibility to sign draft picks in a few months.

That said, Tampa should once again benefit from veteran players who may be willing to sign below their market value in order to chase a Super Bowl ring with the defending champions.