Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett leads the NFL with eight sacks through three games, and is on a ridiculous pace that would shatter the league’s single season sack record of 22.5, which was set by Michael Strahan in 2001.
Are you ready for this?
Barrett is on pace to actually hit 42 sacks this year – thanks to his current average of 2.6 sacks per game.
Hitting 42 sacks in a season would nearly double Strahan’s NFL record, which is absurd.
Can Barrett do it?
History suggests he won’t – nor will he even come close – as the NFL has only had 11 players even reach 20 sacks in a single season in league history. And none of those players has even reached 23 sacks in a year, which is an average of 1.4375 sacks per game.
20-sack Players In NFL History
22.5 sacks – NY Giants DE Michael Strahan – 2001
22 sacks – Kansas City OLB Justin Houston – 2014
22 sacks – Minnesota DE Jared Allen – 2011
22 sacks – NY Jets DE Mark Gastineau – 1984
21 sacks – Minnesota DE Chris Doleman – 1989
21 sacks – Philadelphia DE Reggie White – 1987
20.5 sacks – LA Rams DT Aaron Donald – 2018
20.5 sacks – Houston DE J.J. Watt – 2014
20.5 sacks – Houston DE J.J. Watt – 2012
20.5 sacks – NY Giants OLB Lawrence Taylor – 1986
20 sacks – Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware – 2008
20 sacks – Kansas City OLB Derrick Thomas – 1990
It sounds funny to even say it out loud, but Barrett only needs 15 sacks in the last 13 games to break Strahan’s sack record of 22.5. It would be funny to comprehend that – if he didn’t rip off eight sacks in the first three weeks of the 2019 season in startling fashion.
That’s what makes this mental exercise worth investing in.
It’s not about Barrett posting a far-fetched 42 sacks. It’s about if he can get to 23 sacks and make NFL history.
It’s about if Barrett can join the league’s elite 20-sack club. That’s only 12 sacks away with 13 games left.
Can Barrett get to 17 sacks and break Warren Sapp’s franchise record of 16.5 in 2000? That’s only 8.5 sacks away with 13 games left.
Jason Pierre-Paul hit 12.5 sacks in his first season in Tampa Bay last year. Barrett only needs five sacks the rest of the way to eclipse that mark.
No member of the 20-sack club has ever recorded a sack in every game over an entire season before, so it’s unwise to suggest that Barrett will be able to do that over the next 13 games. But the good news is that in back-to-back games he has shown the ability to record multiple-sack games. The best pass rushers in NFL history have that trait.
It’s going to take another multiple-sack game or two to not just get Barrett into double-digit sack territory, but also position him to break team and NFL records. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has been sacked six times in three games thus far, including twice by Cleveland on Sunday. Can Barrett extend his sack streak to four games this Sunday in L.A.?
Let’s reflect on what Barrett has done thus far in his first three games in red and pewter.
After recording his first sack of the season in a Week 1 loss to San Francisco, Barrett recorded a career-high three sacks in Tampa Bay’s upset win at Carolina just five days later, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In Sunday’s 32-31 loss to the New York Giants, Barrett established a new personal best with four sacks of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, while forcing two fumbles in the process.
“I don’t think anybody could totally realize it would happen, but you saw things on tape and he was going to get opportunities, so he’s made the best of them,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians on Barrett’s hot start. “He’s getting some quick sacks – he’s whipping guys fast – and that’s all him. He’s got a good delay move – he’s got a nice toolbox of moves, and as teams get used to him, I think he’s got a few more he hasn’t even used yet.
“He’s studied other guys and he’s got his own moves, but you need to have three or four if you’re going to be elite and he’s shown it.”
By hitting eight sacks, Barrett earned a $250,000 performance bonus on Sunday, and he has the chance to hit another $250,000 bonus with just two more when he reaches 10 sacks.
And while Barrett is piling up the sacks, general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg would be wise to try to sign the 26-year old pass rusher to a long-term contract extension sooner rather than later. It will only be get expensive the longer the Bucs wait.
Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Bucs this offseason after spending his first five years in Denver, where he recorded 14.5 sacks during that span. Barrett’s signing is turning out to be an absolute steal for Licht and the Buccaneers.
Despite Denver having Pro Bowlers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the Broncos are looking like fools for not re-signing Barrett this offseason, considering the fact that Denver has zero sacks through three games.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay ranks tied for eighth in the league with nine sacks.
Barrett has eight of them – so far.
And he’s just getting started.