TAMPA, Fla. -- With a second-quarter takedown of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaq Barrett recorded sack No. 17.5 for the season, breaking the Bucs’ single-season sack record set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp in 2000.
“It means a lot. Sapp’s is a Hall of Famer and he had it for a while,” said Barrett, who finished the game with 3.0 sacks for 19.5 on the season, the most in the NFL. “I’m just happy to be able to have the opportunity to come down here and play. They gave me the opportunity to play and just to be able to take that record down means a lot. It’s a huge honor, it still hasn’t sunken in but it’s just amazing to be in the record books by myself.”
Barrett is the first-ever Bucs player to lead the league in sacks since they became an official statistic in 1982.
Barrett was thinking beyond the Bucs though. He wanted to top Chandler Jones for most sacks in the NFL in 2019. Heading into Sunday’s game, Jones had 19.0 while Barrett had 16.5. Jones didn't record a sack, so Barrett's total tops the league.
“I wanted to not be second place in the league in sacks no more. I wanted to try and finish with a boom, with a bang and it ended up working out that way,” Barrett said. “I didn’t come out here saying, ‘I’m going to get 3.0 sacks.’ I came out here saying, ‘I’m going to pass rush, put all my effort in it,’ and it came out and turned out into 3.0 sacks. It’s just an amazing feeling to be able to know I want to do it in my head and actually be able to do it without forcing it.”
Coach Bruce Arians joked, “Yeah, he made a lot of money.”
“That’s a big accomplishment. He got it,” Jason Pierre-Paul said. “I don’t know how long [Warren] Sapp had it for, but Shaq Barrett is the new sack leader here. I hope next year I’m here; I’ll break that (laughs).”
Heading into Sunday’s game, Sapp and Barrett were tied at 16.5. Barrett was greeted with a standing ovation from fans, who, up until last season, had not seen a double-digit sack player since 2005.
Sapp was on hand to witness the moment. He’d messaged Barrett two weeks ago when he tied Sapp’s record, telling him, “Your work’s not done. Go get it.”
Before this season, Barrett's career high was five sacks in 2015 when he was a rotational player with the Denver Broncos. He signed with the Bucs this offseason on a one-year, prove-it deal worth $4 million. Coach Bruce Arians has said that Barrett will return next season in some capacity.