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Wednesday July 28th, 2021 2:53AM

Shaq Barrett stays with Bucs on 4-year, $72 million deal

By The Associated Press
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Linebacker Shaquil Barrett has agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are aren’t wasting time doing whatever’s necessary to retain key components of their Super Bowl-winning roster.

Barrett has been one of the NFL’s top pass rushers over the past two seasons and earned $15.8 million in 2020, when he played under the franchise tag after leading the league with 19½ sacks in 2019.

The 28-year-old’s new deal — facilitated by Tom Brady signing an extension that cleared $19 million in salary cap space — includes $36 million guaranteed, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed Monday.

It’s the fourth move general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians have made in a week to ensure key players on the verge of becoming unrestricted free agents would not wind up testing their worth on the open market.

The team placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin and signed linebacker Lavonte David to a salary-cap friendly, two-year deal worth up to $25 million before Brady agreed to an extension that will keep the seven-time Super Bowl champion under contract through 2022.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, wide receiver Antonio Brown, running back Leonard Fournette and kicker Ryan Succop are among other players the Bucs would like to retain.

Re-signing Barrett, however, was by far the top priority this winter. He followed his 2019 breakthrough season with eight regular-season sacks in 2020 last season and four more during Tampa Bay’s postseason run — three in the NFC championship game and one in the Super Bowl.

Barrett spent the first five seasons of his career primarily as a backup with the Denver Broncos. He signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Tampa Bay in free agency in 2019 and has 27½ sacks in 31 regular-season games since joining the Bucs.

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