Shaquil Barrett released: What it means for edge rusher, Buccaneers ahead of free agency

The Buc stops here.

Per reports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to move on from pass rusher Shaquil Barrett after five seasons with the team. Barrett was an integral piece to the Bucs' Super Bowl 55 win, when Tampa Bay downed the Kansas City Chiefs for Tom Brady's seventh and final Super Bowl ring.

The Buccaneers took a flyer on Barrett in 2019 after he spent the first four years of his career with the Broncos. Barrett, an undrafted free agent, made the most of that first season in Tampa Bay, exploding for 19.5 sacks that season, leading to the franchise tag. He would parlay that franchise tag into a four-year, $72 million pact with the Bucs.

Now, their time together has apparently reached its end. Here's where both sides go from here:

Shaquil Barrett landing spots

Barrett, 31, is coming off a season where he notched 56 total pressures and five sacks (per PFF), certainly a still-productive year, even coming off an Achilles tear. Barrett could fit a number of teams looking for edge rush help, but three stand out:

Denver Broncos

A reunion with the Broncos would make sense for Barrett, who is entering the Back 9 of his career. Denver's edge rush room has a decent amount of young talent. Having Barrett in the room could certainly add depth, but also a veteran leader for a blossoming group of rushers, namely Baron Browning. The Broncos are in a bit of a salary-cap bind, but a few cuts could put them in a much better cap situation prior to the start of free agency.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens graded out as one of the better pass-rushing teams in the league this past offseason, but with Jadeveon Clowney a free agent and the majority of their pressures coming from defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (also a free agent), the Ravens will look to free agent options to fit the room. Barrett, who was born in Baltimore, may look to head home. New defensive coordinator Zach Orr may also appreciate having another veteran presence in the room.

Washington Commanders

This past season, the Commanders completely disbanded their edge room; Washington shipped off both Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, and other pieces of their room are free agents. Washington's brass will certainly opt to target a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, and adding Barrett to a room that desperately needs warm bodies may help tide over the immediate need for edge rushers entering the draft.

What this means for the Buccaneers

Barrett was set to earn a reported $15.04 million roster bonus from Tampa Bay in March, but by cutting him, they save just $5 million against their salary cap. They also designated Barrett as a post-June 1 cut, meaning his dead cap will be spread out across two seasons instead of taking it all on this upcoming season.

It also means that the Buccaneers will have to find a way to replace Barrett's sack production as well as his pressure numbers. Edge rushers Yaya Diaby and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka combined for 60 pressures to Barrett's 56.

The Bucs currently hold the No. 26 overall selection in the 2024 NFL draft, but this year is light on true, Round 1, top-end pass rushers. Expect Tampa Bay to scour the free agent market for a cost-effective starter ahead of the draft: They have the 10th most cap space in the NFL, but are also rumored to want to pay Baker Mayfield a big-money extension. That may lop up their space relatively quickly.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shaquil Barrett released: What it means for edge rusher, Buccaneers