Buccaneers to reportedly use franchise tag on Shaquil Barrett, not Jameis Winston

The 2020 offseason is shaping up as one that will bring major change to the NFL. One of the teams likely to experience a good deal of it is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who enter with nearly $85 million in cap room, third-most in the league, and have a couple of very high-profile free agents, including their starting quarterback. 

Jameis Winston is coming off a 33-touchdown, 30-interception season in his first year under head coach Bruce Arians. Those figures display both his immense talent and high upside, and also the obvious drawbacks of having him as your starter. (And that’s before we get to his myriad off-field concerns.) It’s not difficult to see why a team would want to pay him big money, and it’s not difficult to see why a team would be reluctant to hand him a long-term deal. 

For those reasons, it’s been considered likely that Winston would be a candidate for the franchise tag. But a report from PewterReport.com paints a different picture, with edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, not Winston, being the recipient of the Bucs’ tag.

Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Buccaneers last offseason, then broke out with the best season of his career. He recorded a league-high 19.5 sacks, as well as 37 quarterback hits and 19 tackles for loss. He’s hitting free agency again at 27 years old, and should be headed into the prime of his career. 

With so many other quarterback options potentially available this offseason (Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, several first-round prospects in the draft, etc.), it’s arguable that Winston would not be the top choice for plenty of teams, and Winston’s market could be more tepid than imagined. That would mean the Bucs have a chance to keep Winston at a lower cost even if they tag Barrett, or they could let him walk and replace him with one of those more desirable options. 

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