Opting Out Was Never an Option for Shaq Barrett

Luke Easterling

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many NFL players are making the difficult decision to opt out of the 2020 season due to health and safety concerns for themselves and their families.

For Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, there was never a question that he would be playing this season.

The NFL's reigning sack leader told his wife that if the NFL was going to play a season in 2020, he would be there to defend his title.

“Nah, I told her if there’s some football being played that I’m going to play," Barrett said during a video conference call Monday. "I’m a competitor. I love football and that’s the way that I feed my family. That’s the way that we have the life we have now, so there was pretty much no option for us to opt out as long as we were doing it the safest way possible. I feel as though we are doing it the safest way possible.”

Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Bucs in free agency last offseason, and proved to be the best signing in the entire league, leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks in his first year as a full-time starter after four seasons as a rotational player with the Denver Broncos.

While the Bucs couldn't come to an agreement with Barrett on a long-term extension this offseason (negotiations that were made more difficult by the current pandemic, Barrett said), the team placed the franchise tag on their prized pass rusher, locking him in for at least the 2020 season at over $15 million.

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