The NFL salary cap is expected to drop for the first time since 2011. It’s expected to go down by more than $20 million due to COVID-19, and both teams will have no choice but to make some difficult decisions following the big game.
Buccaneers defensive end Shaq Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019, played under the franchise tag in 2020. He earned $15.9 million for the year. Barrett has 11 sacks this season – playoffs included – and he brought down Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers three times in the NFC Championship.
“I’m not expecting that I would be going anywhere else,” said Barrett, who rented a home the last two years and wants to “start laying roots” in Tampa.
Other players on the Bucs expected to hit the open market include wide receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, linebacker Lavonte David, running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Tampa Bay is expected to have $30 million to play with, so the Bucs will definitely be resigning some key players from their team, and they may even add other pending free agents in the offseason.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, are an estimated $20 million over the projected cap. They have decisions to make with running back Le’Veon Bell, wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, and safety Daniel Sorensen.
Watkins, who has missed 14 games in three years with the Chiefs, took a pay cut to remain with the team in 2020, but it is unknown if he’d be willing to do that again moving forward.
“I want to win,” Watkins said. “Early in my career, I was not like that. I always wanted the ball. I still want the ball, but I understand now it is team goals. The three years I have been here, we have had the opportunities to play in the Super Bowl, and that is what it is about.
“I could have been on any other team and getting 1,000 yards and losing. Here, I am on a great team and winning. I might not have the stats and 10,000 yards and Hall of Fame, but, man, I could have two rings or three rings or four rings.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.