The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
Today, let’s look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
Barrett, age 28, has taken a rather unusual career path thus far. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he spent his first five years as a reserve pass rusher for the Denver Broncos. He finally got his chance to start with the Buccaneers in 2019, and broke out with a star-making season. That year, he notched 19.5 sacks and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Barrett followed that up with a solid, if less spectacular, eight-sack performance this past season. Always productive in a limited role with Denver, the Colorado State product has shown in Tampa Bay that he’s a legitimate starting outside linebacker that can give serious juice to a team’s pass rush.
Durability is no concern with Barrett. After spending the majority of his rookie season on the Broncos’ practice squad, he’s only missed a combined four games over the last six years.
New York finished with a top-ten defense this past season. With a stout defensive line, a deep group of safeties, and high-end starters at both cornerback (James Bradberry) and linebacker (Blake Martinez), this unit has a solid chance to be strong again next year. The one missing element that could move them from good to great, however, is a consistent edge rush.
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Rushing off the edge, of course, is Barrett’s specialty. He’s a natural outside linebacker, so he would slide neatly into coordinator Patrick Graham’s 3-4 scheme. Barrett will probably never approach his mammoth 2019 production again. If he can still threaten double-digit sack totals on an annual basis, he’d give opposing offenses one more thing to worry about and take attention away from Big Blue’s stable of interior rushers.
Spotrac estimates Barrett’s market value at $19.7 million annually, which would put him just below Frank Clark as the sixth-highest paid edge rusher in the NFL. Given his age, his brief track record of elite play, and the probable shrinking salary cap, there’s a decent chance he’ll have to settle for something less.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Probably not. Barrett will want to get paid like a star pass rusher, but he’s only truly been that for one year. History suggests that 2019 season is likely an outlier. It would take a real leap of faith to sign him to a big-money, multiyear deal. Of course, if a market doesn’t materialize for him, and New York can ink him to an affordable short-term contract, then why not? But the last thing the Giants should want is overpay an aging player for past performance.