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Shaquil Barrett has big goals — MVP of the league big

The Bucs outside linebacker is more driven after signing a four-year, $68 million contract.
Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the NFC Championship Game in January in Green Bay.
Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the NFC Championship Game in January in Green Bay. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 10
Updated Jun. 10

TAMPA — Shaquil Barrett finally earned his life-changing contract. Now he wants to prove he was worth it by becoming NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

If that happens, Barrett believes he would be in the running for league MVP.

You have to admire Barrett’s sense of responsibility and heightened expectations after he signed a four-year, $68 million contract in March. It included an $18.75 million signing bonus with $34.25 million guaranteed.

“I’m still super hungry and ready to show them that I’m worth every penny that I’m getting,” Barrett said Thursday. “I also want to show them that I’m the best at my position.

“I’m coming. I want to be Defensive Player of the Year and they might give me MVP because of my season, which should be MVP level. I’m coming, man. I won’t be denied this year, and I’m so excited to have this time off so when we get back I’m going to be ready to go. I think this year will be real big for me.”

Two years ago, Barrett signed a one-year. $4 million contract with the Bucs and led the league with 19.5 sacks to earn his first Pro Bowl appearance.

That earned Barrett the Bucs’ franchise player tag and a significant raise to nearly $15.828 million.

But Barrett’s production fell off dramatically as he recorded only eight sacks during the regular season in 2020.

He picked it up in the postseason, notching four more sacks. Barrett also had 42 quarterback pressures and 24 hurries.

“This upcoming year, I’m working on being consistent game in and game out,” Barrett said. “There were some games where I might have played good, but in my head I don’t think I played the way I’m supposed to play, so I want to go in and have the best season possible that you’ll ever see from a defensive end and linebacker.

“I’m coming. Even though we won a Super Bowl, I’m still kind of hungry. I want to show my supporters why they support me and show the doubters why they were wrong to doubt me.”

It may be hard for Barrett to duplicate his 19.5-sack effort from two years ago. But he feels he can improve his route to the quarterback.

“That 19.5 season I missed a lot of sacks that year, as well,” Barrett said. “I’ve been working on taking the right angles, knowing where my help us, knowing if I’m the quarterback, where my escapes are at because of where my help is. Just be more efficient in my angles to the ball and the quarterback so I can be making plays.”

Riley suffered Achilles injury

Free-agent safety Curtis Riley suffered an Achilles injury on the second day of mandatory minicamp Wednesday when he tangled with tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Kevin Minter on a play near the end zone.

“He’s got a slight Achilles tear when he jumped up and got that interception,” Arians said. “So, I’ll see how bad it is and if it needs to be operated or not.”

Riley was signed by the Bucs following a tryout during the team’s rookie minicamp. He has played for the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings.

Arians also said cornerback Jamel Dean suffered a bruised knee and also may be dealing with a minor sprain. That injury is not considered serious.

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