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New Dolphins pass rusher Shaq Barrett aims to make Buccaneers 'mad they let me go' 

Much of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' free agency period has been spent retaining talent.

Baker Mayfield is back, and so too are Mike Evans and Antoine Winfield Jr.

However, among those who got away is Shaq Barrett. Barrett spent five seasons in Tampa, racking up 45 sacks and serving a lead role for a Super Bowl-winning squad.

Having stayed in Florida by signing with the Miami Dolphins, Barrett is now set to prove he's got a full tank left, along with making the Bucs regret releasing him.

"I still got a lot to prove," Barrett said at an introductory news conference on Monday, via team transcript. "Especially getting cut from another team. That adds another whole fuel to the fire right there. The Dolphins are going to be happy they signed me. Tampa is going to be mad they let me go because this year that I'm planning on having and the success that we're about to have as a team is going to be amazing."

Barrett established himself among the premier pass rushers in the league upon joining the Bucs in 2019 after four seasons in Denver. He was twice a Pro Bowler, once a single-season league leader in sacks and once a Super Bowl winner during his five-year stay in Tampa.

The 31-year-old is now looking to prove he's still got the ability to provide some punch to a pass rush.

Standout defensive tackle Christian Wilkins signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, while pass rushers Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb -- a former Broncos teammate of Barrett -- are coming back from season-ending injuries. Thus, the Dolphins are hoping Barrett is able to return to the form of a few seasons back.

Barrett's two Pro Bowl seasons -- 2019 and 2021 -- saw him reach double-digit sacks. He led the league with 19.5 in 2019 and tallied 10 two years later.

"It was just amazing," Barrett said of his 19.5-sack campaign. "Everything just aligned. The stars were aligned and it was just good to be on a team where the coaches pretty much just let me just go out and play football and knowing the scheme, I didn't have to think too much. I was just able to read and react, so to be able to just have that trust from my coaches, trust from my teammates to go out there and get the job done just made it an amazing year and I'm excited to try to get back to that or get close to that."

Just how much Barrett can and will be asked to contribute is in question, but he's not lightening up on his goal-making.

"Every year I will never reach my goals obviously because my goals are 23 sacks," he said. "I want to break the record every year. I want to be the best, one of the best pass rushers to do it and I think getting the sack record would solidify that fact or make you part of the argument for it, so that's what I be trying to go for every year. But I need to still be happy about not reaching that goal and still having 10 sacks, 12 sacks, or whatever amount of sacks I might have. But yeah, I always set the goals really lofty."

In 16 games last season, Barrett was able to rack up just 4.5 sacks, though he still garnered a 75.3 overall grade from PFF and an 84.5 pass-rushing mark. Nonetheless, Barrett's lack of production, combined with the Bucs' financial situation and his $14.1 million cap number, made for an unsurprising conclusion to his Tampa tenure.

"Depending on if we're going to be a Super Bowl contender and I played good, then there was a chance I was going to stay, but if I played like the season I had, I knew they had to pay people and I was going to be a potential cut, so I was preparing my family for pretty much the whole year, honestly," Barrett said. "And then like once it happened, it wasn't a surprise at all because I was making the money I was making then, but then my numbers weren't supporting the fee that I was being paid, so I understood that part of the business, so it wasn't too hard. But moving my family, that's usually the hard part. But only going down the road, we're going to be able to keep our house in Tampa and then they're going to come travel down here every other week, so we're going to make it work. That's the best part about it, not having to really relocate the whole family."

There's no relocation, but a chance for Barrett to reset and reaffirm his status as a premier pass rusher.

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