TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers pass-rusher Shaq Barrett has notified the NFL that he has officially accepted his franchise tender, but he is filing a grievance with the NFLPA to be tagged as a defensive end and not a linebacker, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Barrett, 27, registered a league-leading 19.5 sacks in his first season with the Bucs, playing on a one-year deal for $4 million.
The franchise tag amount is calculated by taking the average of the top five players' cap percentages for the current season, or 120% of the player's previous salary -- whichever is higher. If Barrett is tagged as a linebacker, he'd earn $15.8 million for 2020. If he is tagged as a defensive end, he'd earn $2 million more -- $17.78 million -- due to new contracts inked by DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, Trey Flowers, Yannick Ngakoue and Cam Jordan all last year.
The NFL does not distinguish between inside and outside linebackers when determining franchise tag amounts, meaning it does not make a distinction between linebackers serving as pass-rushers -- whose primary job is getting to the quarterback, and perceived to be higher value -- and those dropping into coverage.
The highest-paid outside linebacker, Khalil Mack, signed a new deal with the Chicago Bears in 2018, and the second-highest paid outside linebacker, Von Miller, signed his current deal in 2016. The third and fourth highest-paid linebackers, Bobby Wagner and C.J. Mosley, did sign new deals in 2019, along with Za'Darius Smith, but multiple players -- Barrett, Matt Judon and Bud Dupree -- are still awaiting new contracts.
The Bucs could try to argue that Barrett is more of a 3-4 outside linebacker given the number of snaps he plays standing up rushing the quarterback versus having his hand in the dirt. Or they could follow what the Baltimore Ravens did with Judon this offseason, by coming up with a compromise -- $16.8 million -- since Judon plays a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role. If Barrett and the Bucs cannot find a solution, a neutral arbitrator will make the call.