Buccaneers' Shaq Barrett, whom John Elway let walk for $1 million, on pace for 40 sacks

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Columnist

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a home loss to the New York Giants and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones on Sunday, though it wasn’t for lack of effort: Jameis Winston had a solid day, receiver Mike Evans had a fantastic day and linebacker Shaq Barrett did everything he could to rattle Jones.

Barrett, a free agent earlier this year who received little interest, agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with Tampa Bay and so far he’s been the steal of the offseason.

Four-sack game vs. Giants

Tampa Bay linebacker Shaquil Barrett has 8.0 sacks through the first three games of the season. (Getty Images)

The 26-year-old Barrett was undrafted out of Colorado State in 2014 and signed with the Denver Broncos.

Barrett spent five years with Denver, but never became a full-time starter; once the Broncos drafted linebacker Bradley Chubb last year, it seemed clear Barrett’s days might be numbered.

And they were — he played in just 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last year, though he still managed to record three sacks and seven quarterback hits.

So Barrett was allowed to walk in 2019.

On Sunday, he had a four-sack game against the Giants, tying Tampa Bay’s single-game franchise record; Marcus Jones in 1990 and Simeon Rice in 2003 also registered four-sack games.

NFL Research tweeted that Barrett had 14 pressures in 36 pass-rushes against New York, the second-most in a game for a defensive player since 2016; the Buffalo Bills’ Jerry Hughes had 15 pressures on 38 pass rushes in Week 3 last year.

Record-tying eight sacks

More impressively, Barrett now has 8.0 sacks in just three games, tying Mark Gastineau (1984) for the most sacks in the first three games of a season. He’s on pace for a 42-sack season, which of course would be a record.

On Sunday Barrett expressed disappointment that his career day came in a loss, but he has to be taking a bit of happiness in the fact that while he has 8 sacks, the Broncos as a team have zero.

"He's just wearing out left tackles," Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said on Sunday.

His big day against New York also netted Barrett a $250,000 bonus, which he was set to earn for getting 8 sacks this season; he can earn another $250,000 if he totals 10 sacks, which seems like a given at this juncture.

More from Yahoo Sports: