Early Monday morning, Adam Schefter reported that Shaq Barrett would be receiving the franchise tag.
Barrett Gets Franchise Tagged
This did not come as a shock, as many news outlets speculated as such. But with Shaq Barrett receiving the franchise tag, what does this mean for Jameis Winston’s future? Can a long term deal still be achieved? We’ll answer these questions and analyze the impact of the move.
The topic that everyone wants to discuss, Jameis Winston. Some say that with the franchise tag no longer an option, Winston’s time in Tampa Bay is beginning to look bleak. I wouldn’t go that far just yet.
With the signing of the CBA on Sunday, NFL teams cannot use both the transition and franchise tag in the same offseason. This eliminates one option for the Buccaneers, but that doesn’t mean a long term deal can’t be reached.
I’ve said all along that Bruce Arians and the front office gave Winston a number, and challenged him to beat it in free agency. This is a massive risk, and if Winston finds a suitor willing to pay him, his time in Tampa Bay could be over, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
One important question to cover is how does the franchise tag impact the Buccaneers 2020 salary cap? For starters, the franchise tag pays the average salary of the top five earners at the position. So if the top five quarterbacks average to a yearly salary of $30 million, that is the price of the franchise tag.
Fortunately for the Buccaneers, inside linebackers and edge rushers are lumped into one category. Historically, inside linebackers make significantly less money than their edge rushing counterparts. In fact, Shaq Barrett will only receive $15 million with the franchise tag because of this wrinkle.
For reference, the top pass rusher is currently Khalil Mack, with a yearly salary of $23.5 million. Tampa Bay is getting a massive discount.
So with the franchise tag set, the Buccaneers currently have about $66 million left in cap space according to Spotrac. This number should be just enough to bring back the defensive line, and sign a quarterback, whoever that may be.
There are two types of franchise tag options in the NFL, exclusive, and non-exclusive. The exclusive tag is fairly straightforward, it acts as a contract, and that player cannot negotiate with another team.
In terms of Shaq Barrett, the Buccaneers elected to use the non-exclusive franchise tag. This means that other teams can negotiate a contract, but the Buccaneers have the opportunity to match it.
If Shaq Barrett elects to sign with a new team, the buccaneers would receive two first round picks. This is an interesting wrinkle, as the Buccaneers would be highly compensated if Barrett were to leave town. I expect the two to agree on a long term deal at some point, but if Barrett signs elsewhere, at least Tampa Bay will receive high draft capital.
Long Term Deal
Now don’t get things confused, the franchise tag does not mean Shaq Barrett still couldn’t receive a deal this offseason.
The CBA states that teams have until July 15th to agree on a deal with any player who is tagged before it becomes permanent that upcoming season.
The Buccaneers likely want to take the wait and see approach with Barrett. The front office can let the smoke clear from free agency, and see where they stand salary cap wise. If enough money is left over, I expect a deal to be made before the summer.
The Buccaneers have stated they want Barrett for the long term, the franchise tag is just a place holder until a contract can be agreed upon.
Franchise tagging Shaq Barrett is a smart move by the Buccaneers. You lock in a top pass rusher at a bargain price and extend the negotiating period. Even if a deal isn’t reached this offseason, Shaq Barrett can prove he’s worth top edge rusher money with a repeat of 2019.