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The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: How did the Bucs keep Shaq Barrett?

Answer: Shaquil Barrett has been re-signed by the Buccaneers on a four-year, $72 million deal that includes $36 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That’s an average of $18 million per year, but the deal is actually worth $17 million per season with escalators pushing the contract to $18 million if Barrett gets 15 sacks in a season and the team makes the playoffs. Even more important is that Barrett’s 2021 cap value is only $5.6 million, which helps the team’s efforts to re-sign tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Josina Anderson received a text message from Barrett at noon stating he was coming back to Tampa Bay, and his contract details were made available soon thereafter. Barrett commented on a Tom Brady Instagram post recently, clearly showing he would like to stay in Tampa Bay.

While his sack numbers were down from the 19.5 sacks he had as a Pro Bowler in 2019, Barrett did record eight sacks in the regular season and was second in the NFL in quarterback pressures in 2020. He added four more sacks in the postseason, including a monster three-sack game against the Packers.

When the dust settled, I think the Buccaneers understood the value of Barrett to the team’s Super Bowl run and how hard it is to replace a player of Barrett’s caliber, and they found a way to reach an agreement. And if you have paid attention to the way the Bucs have structured deals with Brady and linebacker Lavonte David, it appeared as if they were setting things up to be able to being Barrett back, which they ultimately did.

UPDATED 1:30 p.m. ET – Barrett’s deal calls for $1.25 million base salary in 2021 and an $18.75 million signing bonus that is prorated over five years. Barrett’s contract has a voidable fifth year.

Question: Aren’t you a little worried the Bucs are ditching their salary cap diligence a bit too freely of late? It looks like like a few players are going to be eating up an awfully large chunk of the next couple of years salary cap just to make a little bit more room this year. I know the meme is to “keep the band together,” but at what point does it become reckless?  Having watched the 2002 crew disband due to salary cap issues, I really don’t want to see all our best players disappear again in two years because we mortgaged the future.

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: I also remember the post-Super Bowl purge that took place in the years following Tampa Bay’s first Super Bowl win after the 2002 season. Yet I don’t think this is a repeat of that. First and foremost, director of football operations Mike Greenberg could teach classes to many other GMs on how to navigate the salary cap and how to stay out of trouble. Greenberg’s knowledge and ability to fit the pieces together, with an eye to the future, is head and shoulders over former general managers Rich McKay and Bruce Allen.

I see where they might be some concern with the voidable years with the Lavonte David and Tom Brady deals, but even if David never plays another down after two more seasons, his dead cap is minimal with only approximately $6 million spread out the following three seasons. Brady’s hit will be higher if he retires after the 2022 season, but there are also ways to reduce that number between now and then by converting some of it to different bonuses as well. And with the salary cap set to explode for 2022 with a new TV contract that could double the current one, the Bucs will be in solid shape moving forward.

Question: Who are the three or four players who lead this team with their attitudes? How hard would it be to disrupt that chemistry if the Bucs draft a real bad apple?

Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic really did reporters a big disservice this year as we has zero in-person contact with players and coaches. Even when attending home games, all media sessions were conducted virtually and no reporters were allowed in the locker room at One Buccaneer Place or at Raymond James Stadium. We missed the opportunity to have those one-on-one’s with players during open locker room or Pewter Report events that we often had players or from office members attend. Those were prime opportunities to really get behind the scenes of the football team and gauge the pulse of the locker room. So as far as the players who were the leaders in 2020, it is hard to give an accurate answer, just because we didn’t get to witness it first hand.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Still I don’t think anyone needed to be in the locker room to know that Tom Brady had a huge impact on this team from a leadership standpoint and with his attitude. It rubbed off on a lot of players and no one wanted to be the guy to disappoint Brady. It all started there and trickled down. Jason Pierre-Paul was a player we saw lead the previous couple seasons but as great as he has been, he just couldn’t will the Bucs to wins the way Brady did.

As far as disrupting chemistry from a rookie, that just isn’t going to happen. Aside from Brady there are players like Mike Evans, Ryan Jensen, Rob Gronkowski, Devin White and Lavonte David who just wouldn’t allow that to occur. And besides the leadership and examples set from those players I mentioned, general manager Jason Licht and his staff won’t bring in players that they even suspect could be a bad apple.

They don’t need to gamble and take a chance on someone like that. That’s an advantage to be being a Super Bowl winning team – there aren’t a lot of holes to fill. And the front office can be pickier in who they choose. I suspect anyone who they have an inkling might have an attitude issue gets removed from their draft board entirely.

Question: Could there be a surprise or two in free agency? Either a player who does not come back, or a player that would be a “wow” signing? With the cap the way it is, I could see either or both happening.

Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: I think there is always a chance of a surprise player. I didn’t foresee running back Leonard Fournette coming aboard last season, and was floored when the Buccaneers took a chance on Antonio Brown. So always expect the unexpected. With the salary cap being lower there will be some really good, bigger named players floating around without a team over the next month, but that same salary cap issue will likely keep the Bucs from making many – if any – “wow” moves initially.

Right now, at least this first week of free agency, the main focus will be on retaining as many of their own free agents as possible, then begin looking for pieces that fit the locker room and the salary cap. But I wouldn’t be shocked if by the time the season kicks off in September that we don’t see a couple new faces on the roster that come out of nowhere.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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6 months ago

With the cap being what it is, very curious to see if agents/players are more willing to take less earlier than usual this year before teams use up what limited cap space they have. Expecting a lot of one-year deals where we may see one or two “wow” Buc signings just based on the parameters this year.

Reply to  FLBoy84
6 months ago

Can’t believe we have Brady, Shaq, and David for about 18M in cap hit total this year

6 months ago

I don’t think the Bucs are ruining anything with the Cap. They have been so good for so many years that it allowed them to be creative at a time where we actually finally have the potential to reach another 2-3 Super Bowls. The creativeness they have done doesn’t destroy our future or anything and worst case will just have to deal with a little dead money in future years where it will be even easier to handle anyways. Now is the time to lock down who we need to as long as it doesn’t ruin our future and they… Read more »

Reply to  Spitfire
6 months ago

I agree. I love what the current people are doing and have been doing in recent years.
It is always good to have someone spell out some of these issues for us all. Also, I am sure there are interested younger fans who don’t really know much about what happened after 2002.

Reply to  SenileSenior
6 months ago

What happened in 2002/2003 is that the Bucs lost so many premium Draft picks trading for Key Johnson and Jon Gruden and were unable to re-stock the roster when the stars on the team were aging. The “window of opportunity” was open from 1997 to 2002, but sadly Dungy wasn’t able to get the most out of Sam Wyche’s team. Gruden took a team that was nearer to the end of the line than people thought.

6 months ago

Good stuff this week! Just the kind of questions I want answers about.

6 months ago

I appreciated the answer about the potential salary cap Issues in the future. I remember after the other Super Bowl that we were in salary cap Hill for a couple of years. Like Mark said, our current staff seems a whole lot more competent and aware of that situation then before

6 months ago

Saw a stat on a different website that showed Barrett averaging a sack a game when Vea is in the lineup but only a sack every two games when he is out. Pretty amazing isn’t it..

6 months ago

F the salary cap, I want to win now!!

Reply to  surferdudes
6 months ago

I agree with that sentiment. It’s all about the QB in the NFL. If Brady were 25 I think you would see Licht building the team a bit differently. When Brady retires we may not have a shot regardless of how well the cap is managed so now is the time to push all the chips in.

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