Shaquil Barrett certainly now has enough money to buy all the LOUDMOUTH mouthguards that he desires. In fact, given the contract that he signed in March 2021 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if it wasn't for his custom LOUDMOUTH, he needs to be wearing the Money Green Lip Protector mouthguard from this point onward.
Barrett – now a two-time Super Bowl Champions after the Bucs took down the Chiefs at the end of the 2020 season – put pen to paper on a four-year deal with $36 million of that fully guaranteed. The total value of the deal could be up to $72 million if he meets all the terms of the contract. Not bad for a player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2014.
Barrett has had an interesting journey to reach the mega contract he now owns. Lightly recruited out of Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland, Barrett first signed to play at Nebraska-Omaha in 2010. There are many reasons for a career at a college to go sideways, but one of the less common reasons would be the school shuttering the program after your freshman season, which is exactly what happened to Barrett. Thankfully, with a year of college film to his name, Barrett was able to find a school without too much trouble.
That school was Colorado State, and Barrett was able to play immediately because sitting out for a year after a transfer does not count if the reason for the transfer is the loss of the program. Barrett played in 38 games in all for the Rams – starting 35 of them – putting together a dominant resume for an outside linebacker. His totals included 246 tackles in three years, 18 sacks, 32.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, and seven forced fumbles. His senior season was epic, as Barrett was named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year when he ranked fifth in the country with 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss.
Despite that production, Barrett went undrafted and had a choice to sign as a free agent with either the Denver Broncos or Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver made the most sense – especially given where he was just graduating from – and that was where he chose to sign/ After spending his first season in the league on the practice squad, Barrett made something of an impact the next season where the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder notched 5.5 sacks as a situational pass rushing specialist.
The Broncos were expecting big things, but they just never really came. Barrett next hit that 5.5 sack mark again in Denver and his career totals in five years there were only 15 starts and 14 total sacks. Barrett could easily have faded out of the league at this point – already having overachieved as a UDFA – but the one year contract he signed with the Buccaneers in 2019 would result in a springboard no one really saw coming.
It is rare for a pass rusher to finally show their true ability as a six-year veteran. The Buccaneers put their trust in Barrett, however, and the change of scheme and role – he started more games in his first year in Tampa than in five in Denver – paid immediate dividends. Barrett was the NFL’s sack leader in 2019 when he had an astonishing 19.5 sacks on the season. Barrett signed a one-year deal as the Buccaneers’ franchise player and he was a steady contributor in 2020 with 57 tackles, eight sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles on the year. This included a sack of Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl as the Buccaneers’ defensive front – powered by Barrett – was too much for the Kansas City offensive line to handle.
Barrett has already broken out as a star and his ability to go on sack streaks – at nine sacks in the first four games of the 2019 season he co-holds an NFL record through the first four-weeks – make him a player worth watching on every snap.