The 2019 NFL season could be called the year of “Nobody saw that one coming.” From injured quarterbacks to controversial calls, ESPN outlined the biggest surprises of the year. Here we look at one player having an incredibly surprising season and the team that foolishly let him go, the Denver Broncos.
Shaquil Barrett’s promising start
Shaquil Barrett played college football at Colorado State from 2011-13. He started in 35 of 38 games and received “Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year” honors as a senior. The 6-foot-2 outside linebacker was a natural to be chosen in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, Barrett’s dream of becoming a pro football player seemed lost when he went undrafted. Six days after the draft, the Denver Broncos signed Barrett to the practice squad.
After spending 16 weeks there, he moved to the main roster for the Week 7 game against the 49ers. The young athlete joined the roster again for the Broncos’ AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Colts. However, he did not play.
The Broncos win the Super Bowl with Barrett in tow
The 2015 season looked promising for Barrett as he finished the preseason with the most sacks of any Broncos player. The linebacker played in all 16 games of the regular season — with six starts — as well three postseason games.
During the regular season Barrett recorded five sacks, 41 tackles, four defended passes and forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and nine special teams tackles. He went on to play in Super Bowl L, where the Broncos outplayed the Carolina Panthers and won 24-10.
After two more years with the Broncos, Barrett was cut in 2018. On March 15, 2019, Barrett signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
During the Week 2 game against the Panthers, he racked up three sacks on Cam Newton, a career-best at the time. The Buccaneers went on to win 20-14. For his achievement, Barrett received the NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Barrett is the ‘NFC Defensive Player of the Month’
In a hard-fought loss of 32-31 against the Giants in Week 3, Barrett upped his career-best record with four sacks and two forced fumbles. This tied the franchise records held by Marcus Jones and Simeon Rice. Barrett became the first player in Bucs history to record three sacks in two games in a row.
In Week 4 against the Rams, the 27-year-old recorded one sack, and an interception, the first of his career. He also forced a fumble recovered by Ndamukong Suh and returned for a Bucs touchdown that added to a 55-40 win. Barrett became the NFC Defensive Player of the Month of September.
Barrett’s sack record keeps climbing
Week 5 and 6 were unremarkable for Barrett, and Week 7 was a bye. Barrett was back in Week 8 against the Titans, packing his stats with four tackles and a sack with a forced fumble. This brought his sack total for the season to 10.
Jumping ahead to the Week 13 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Barrett sacked Nick Foles twice. One stripped the ball from Foles, then Barrett’s teammate, Devin White picked it up and returned it for a touchdown.
Week 14 against the Colts resulted in seven tackles and a sack, and Week 15 against the Lions resulted in five tackles and a sack, which tied the Buccaneers franchise sack record with Warren Sapp.
Barrett’s outstanding sack record and other feats on the field earned him a trip to the 2020 Pro Bowl. Way to go, Barrett.