Does Vita Vea Make Shaq?

March 1st, 2021

Bucs NT Vita Vea.

Some of Joe’s favorite Bucs players of all time just happen to be playing on the Bucs’ front-seven on defense currently.

Joe isn’t sure how any Bucs fan doesn’t like Bucs sack king Shaq Barrett, brute Vita Vea, ornery (on the field) Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, who has the heart of a lion.

But it seems some Bucs fans are at least dismissive of Shaq or think he’s grossly overrated if not easily replaceable. In fact, Joe has read in the comments on this here website people scoffing about keeping Shaq claiming he is nothing unless Vea lines up at nose tackle.

Joe cannot and could not believe his eyes. What are these folks trying to say, the Bucs are better off without Shaq? The Bucs could get just as much production from Anthony Nelson as Shaq?

What the hell?!

So Joe started doing research. This notion that Vea makes Shaq is pure nonsense. Now does Vea make Shaq (and JPP) better? Of course! But this idea that Shaq is somehow a lesser player or is expendable and should thank Vea for his production is just not based in reality of any sort.

So Joe went to Joe did research on regular season stats alone. Remember Vea was lost for the regular season in the fifth game of the year against the Bears and did not return until the NFC Championship game at Green Bay.

Shaq played in 10 of the final 11 Bucs regular season games (he had to sit out the final game of the regular season thanks to The Sickness — a precautionary measure). In those 10 games, Shaq had five of his eight regular season sacks. Again, those are games in which Vea did not play.

Additionally, Shaq was sixth overall in the NFL in quarterback pressures (which includes hurries, knockdowns and sacks). Shaq had 42.

(The top five? T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Aaron Donald, Chris Jones and Carl Lawson.)

As far as quarterback hurries, Shaq led the NFL with New England’s Chase Winovich with 24.

Does that sound like a pass rusher who needed a nose tackle to be a good player?

Let Joe be crystal clear: This is not a knock on Vea in any way shape or form. What this article documents is the narrative that Vea makes Shaq and therefore Shaq is disposable as a key free agent for the Bucs and is not needed.

This notion is just ca-ca.

Of course, in the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl, Vea’s part-time return helped Shaq totally blow up. There’s no doubt about that.

Without Shaq, Joe isn’t sure if the Bucs even make the Super Bowl.

49 Responses to “Does Vita Vea Make Shaq?”

  1. Steven007 Says:

    The answer to your question is no. But it helps obviously. Just like it would help any other pass rusher. And that’s kind of the point. I like Shaq. He’s obviously a very good player. I’m not sure yet if he’s elite aside from his first year here. He sure was in the playoffs and Super bowl. Would love to keep him. Break the bank? I don’t think that happens here.

  2. rrsrq Says:

    Shaq gets the sacks with VV because the QB has no where to go, but the pressure is the same. QBs can buy more time when you don’t have to step into the back of your center or guard.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Am I missing something here….Is Vita Vea still on the team……did he have a career ending injury…..was he traded…..did he quit?

    No…I don’t think so……so Shaq without Vea isn’t an issue.

    Here’s the question….how good will JPP be without Shaq?

    I rarely agree with Joe’s player choices….but this time I’m 100% in agreement that Shaq is top priority.

  4. Duemig from HELL Says:

    Its not either, or….or black & white like u people like to spew. It’s a combo just like the o-line

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    Shaq and JPP both had a 5 game streak of NO SACKS going to end the regular season and into the beginning of the playoffs.

    As soon as Vea came back into the lineup – bam 5 sacks between them.

    The difference in push up the middle when VV is in there is very obvious.

    Is Shaq a difference maker? Absolutely.

    Considering the other players on that line (if we bring Suh back) – is it reasonable to assume that we could get 90% of Barrett’s production from another talented FA at half the cost of the $20M Shaq will demand?

    I think it is.

    There will be a # of talented FAs looking for work this year that would be happy to play for the Bucs at a Discount.

    Shaq on the other hand wants to – “break the bank” – see the difference?

    Would be nice if the Bucs truly could bring “everybody” from the Super Bowl roster back – we shall see though. That $20M per is hard to swallow when money is so tight – especially on a longer term deal which Barrett absolutely wants and expects (and deserves)…

  6. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I think we are all going to be surprised with who gets signed, extended and traded.
    I just have that feeling that the whole “keep the band together” thing is subterfuge.

    Who is gonna stay? Who is gonna go?

    I have no friggin clue.

  7. The Daily Coroner Says:

    10 games without Vita Vea. Shaq sacks – 5.
    2 play off games (NFC championship and Super Bowl) with Vita Vea – 4 sacks!
    Think you did under estimate Vea’s influence on sack totals. He crushes the pocket such the Rodgers and Mahomes could not step up.
    Win with defense. IMO Shaq needs to be back to get to the Big Dance again.

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe, you’re like a dog with a bone. Best to let it go when surrounded by a pack of wolves.

    Shaq’s integral to the Front-7. THAT’S what’s most important IMO. It works; they all feed off each other beautifully; don’t fix what’s not broke.

    In 2020, we paid Shaq $15.8 mil, LVD $10.8 mil, Suh $8.0 mil. The other 4 are under contract for this year: Vea made $4.0 mil in 2020, JPP made $12.8 mil; White made $6.8 mil and Gholston made $4.8 mil. Those last 4 will be making $4.7 mil, $12.5 mil, $8.2 mil and $5.5 mil respectively (an INCREASE of $2.5 mil for the 4 together in 2021).

    Good chance IMO that we can keep the defense together for very close to the same amount we spent in 2020, PROVIDING that the salary CAP stays the same ($198 mil) which I still think that it will. To do that, we’d need long-term contracts for LVD (averaging $10-$11 mil per year), for Shaq (averaging $15-$16 mil per year), for Suh (averaging probably $7-$8 mil per year) and restructure Gholston. Our ‘crunch’ will come next year when Vea, JPP, Davis & Whitehead all come due for new contracts (as well as several high $$$ guys on the offense).

  9. Evo2706 Says:

    I think its at least safe to say with vea and suh pushing the pocket back into the QB’s lap. It helps Shaq make more impact/splash plays. Which stands out more to regular fans.

  10. Bucsfanman Says:

    “6th overall in pressures,” #1 in QB hurries, this is what I saw. The sack #s weren’t there but he darn sure was making his presence known with or without Vea.
    If you didn’t observe this, you weren’t watching the games.
    You don’t let PROVEN and PRODUCTIVE young pass-rushers walk out the door. OR, have we not learned a single thing from previous blunders?!

  11. webster Says:

    7 games vita played, barrett had 7 sacks. 10 games vita didnt play, barrett had 5 sacks. Im not a sacks total trumps all kind of guy but vita’s impact is apparehent. As someone mentioned, vita doesnt allow qbs to step up in the pocket which helps the ends get sacks. There is a reason the ends who played with sapp PRIOR to rice were also double digit sack guys ie chidi, marcus jones etc. Sapp consistently collapsed the pocket. Not a knock on mccoy but he did not consistently collapse the pocket and therefore no double digit sack d-ends. Its quite simple really.

  12. LJS4th Says:

    All are better when the starting line plays together!!! Give them all credit as I team and working together!!! Keep the defense together!! Sign them all we have depth on the Offense!!!!

  13. jaybuc Says:

    Vea helps by drawing double teams and when single teamed pushes the pocket. To be clear, i want Shaq back.

    But Vea makes the whole line better. (as does Suh) As far as the Packers and Chiefs games: Shaq “should” of had big games. Both Starting Left tackles were out. Granted the Packers moved Billy Turner from the Right side to the the Left Tackle spot. But if you watched the packers at all, Turner is good for 3-5 plays where his feet look like they are stuck in the mud.

    Vea and Suh make a huge difference. No place for QB’s to set up to buy that extra second. Although I want Shaq back (not if it breaks the bank), there are a handful of other players that can get pressure on QB’s that are Free Agents. Hendrickson of the Saints for one.

  14. Rick Says:

    If Shaq is so good, we should franchise him and trade him for two first rounders, draft a rookie to replace him and sign a veteran.

  15. Adrnagy Says:

    Shaq is a good player. He’s not in the level of von Miller,Khalil Mack,Aaron Donald.
    Shaq cannot dominate without vea , or jpp. He’s just not elite. So thank you.

    He’s not a priority imo. For $20m yr. and he still needs jpp , vea , suh and sack leader of the team white. hahahaha. Nope.
    Bucs don’t sign David first is a slap in the face to all the Bucs players.

  16. Colonel Angus Says:

    They’re great together, so let’s keep that going.

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:


    Are you feeling ok?

    You’re actually making sense.

  18. NDOGSDAD Says:

    There we have it the gms here know everything

  19. Tc Says:

    Well it must of been a coincidence that when vea started playing in the playofffs, shaq’s production started going way up. If you take away the playoffs he was a good player to average with only 8 sacks. They play as a team to get their production

  20. geno711 Says:

    I agree with Arnady that Shaq has not proven as good as Von Miller, Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald in his career.

    The key is moving forward for this team. Is there a more important signee than Shaq Barrett? For me no. David is 2nd most important signee and Suh is 3rd.

    I have seen fans suggesting somehow that Anthony Nelson will be ready to replace him. I have seen fans saying there is a free agent that can replace him – name him. I have seen fans saying that we can get one in the draft – which player – can play that many snaps and be that effective with quarterback hits, quarterback sacks, and quarterback pressures. Can primarily play left defensive end/outside LB. Can also be good against that run as well.

    Lots of ways to win in the NFL – so if we do not re-sign Shaq – we can still win.

    I think the best chance for us to do well in the playoffs next year is to have all of Vea, Suh, JPP, Shaq, David, and White on the team.

    Keep the defense together.

  21. pewter941 Says:

    Yes. Im wondering you can probably put alot of players in his position and get a big impact. Because of Suh JPP and Vea.

  22. Robert Says:

    yes he does. Shaq disappeared all year without VV.

  23. Steven007 Says:

    Nelson doesn’t have the slipperiness Shaq has. A replacement would have to go the free agent route. The problem with that is, even if Miller or someone like Judon (who I like) could be an adequate replacement, the problem remains the same. Price. Any free agent worth his salt will be expensive at that position. Shaq is proven in the system and therefore would be the preference. But I’m telling you, it all comes down to dollar s and how he fits in the budget with all the other guys we need to sign.

  24. 813bucboi Says:

    who cares!!!!

    they all need each other…plain and simple….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  25. D-Rome Says:

    Agreed Joe. Shaq’s importance cannot be overstated enough.

  26. pewter941 Says:

    It matters when you are trying to resign everyone and you cant because everyone wants to break the bank.

  27. Joe Says:

    Shaq disappeared all year without VV.

    smh. Glad to see someone read the story.

    (Stats prove that is BS.)

  28. Robert Says:

    @ joe……..but, but jw threw for 5000. stats are for losers lol. He may have been working, but he was hardly a difference maker or “visibly disruptive.

  29. pewter941 Says:

    I know what my eyes saw, the Defense looked good in the beginning of the year, there was a lull in the middle, and It was on fire towards the end. And everyone was saying that Shaq disappeared.

  30. Op Says:


    Please tell me which free agents are out there that can do 90% of what Shaq can do, and at half the price. The truth is, THERE AREN’T. Any pass rusher worth a damn is going to cost a bunch of money and we already know what we have in Shaq. Taking a risk in a vet free agent is extremely risky and something I hope the team doesn’t do. DON’T cheap out in offensive and defensive lineman, as simple as that.

  31. August 1976 Buc Says:

    We all see that Bowels brings pressure with the linebackers. Of course they get more pressure when the d line plays better, that is how Todd schemes his defense. To say they could easily replace one of the best pass rushers in the game is hogwash. We all saw Shaq was a game changer in the biggest games of the year. We also see how Shaq fits well with the defense. To try and bring in an injured Vonn Miller to replace him, noway no thanks. No time to try and fix something that is not broken, but is a well oiled machine of a front 7. It is all about how the Defensive front 7 works together. Teamwork makes the dream work. GO BUCS!!!!

  32. Cobraboy Says:

    Seems Barrett is The New Johnny Football to one of the Joes.

  33. Chris K Says:

    Vea may not make Shaq, because obviously Shaq is a hell of a player, but Vea absolutely helps everyone on the D line when he’s out there. Shaq earned a contract and to be paid. The question becomes how and at what expense to the rest of the team.

  34. Cobraboy Says:

    Vita Vea’s second half of the Super Bowl:
    -Played 17 of 44 snaps
    -3 over C, 9 over C-G, 2 over G-T, 1 over T, and 2 as wide DE.
    -Singled 10 times, doubled 6 times, tripled 1 time
    -9 Wins
    -4 Big Wins

    I noticed draws, running plays and sprint outs went away from him. The QB never step up into the pocket when Vea played G-to-G.

    I noticed Nunes-Roches & McLendon: they were active, but often got flat stoned by one or more. Vea never once got stoned.

  35. Cobraboy Says:

    Yes, I have a major bias for Big Ugly interior linemen. That is where football is won and lost.

    The rest sells tickets and appeals to casual fans.

  36. JA Says:

    August 1976—

    “We all see that Bowels brings pressure …”

    As one who suffers from ulcerative colitis, I am in full agreement with that statement.

  37. pewter941 Says:

    I love Shaq, if there is a way for us to keep everyone that would be great. Do you know who’s production has been great and consistent the last 4 years despite what qb receivers oline or rb has been on the field?

  38. August 1976 Buc Says:

    lol JA T Bowles Bowels. That would be some serious pressure bro. Maybe just how Mahome boy also felt running for 497 yards.

  39. BillyBucFan Says:

    Watt signed with the Cardinals.
    Shaq is not worth 18-20 Period.

  40. D-Rome Says:

    I don’t understand how this is a debate. We as fans waited for over a decade for this organization to improve the edge rushing. When the Bucs made an actual effort to improve the edge rushing the team defense improved.

    Now, it seems like half the fan base thinks the Bucs can easily pick up another guy off of free agency that will be productive, as if productive edge rushers are a dime a dozen. It seems that’s what Jason Licht did with Shaq Barrett initially but if you look at his numbers in limited action, and then extrapolate that out to a full work load (i.e. playing 80%+ snaps) you would see that he was highly productive in Denver as a part time player. That kind of production is very hard to find.

  41. PoundTheRock Says:

    The question is are you going to pay Shaq premium money for just above average production in 2020?? I want to keep Barrett but at what cost?

    As stated before about VV.
    C’mon Joe…You complained after bye week that JPP was no where to be found and was in witness protection. Even in the podcast all year you downplayed VV absence when injured. IMO he is incredibly important in Bowles scheme, and you could argue he is the most important player on the D.

    You can’t argue that when he is in the game, he controls the middle of the LoS, swallowing up blocks in run game and crushing the interior of the pocket on pass plays.

    NT’s don’t accumulate many stats, however it allows Shaq, JPP, White, David etc. to be freed up to make plays…it is hard to quantify. If you look at the 5 sacks against the Packers, VV was on the field for 4 of those sacks. Go back and watch the tape.

    There is no coincidence that when he returned, so did the fierce pass rush. I also know both Packers and Chiefs had OT issues. However, think about it, if he doesn’t return, do Bucs have to blitz more to get pressure on Rodgers and Mahomes? If they blitz more do they get beat more one on one in secondary?

    Joe, I think you downplayed VV’s importance.

  42. Pickgrin Says:

    Op Says:
    Please tell me which free agents are out there that can do 90% of what Shaq can do, and at half the price.

    Yea – I can’t really. Kinda had Watt in the back of my mind but I see he just signed with AZ – 2 years for $31M.

    Its more of a concept that seems like it should be valid.

    Would Barrett’s tape and #s look nearly as good as they do – if he wasn’t playing along side Suh, Vea and Pierre-Paul? Not likely.

    If another team signs Barrett for $20M – are they going to be disappointed with his “results” for that price lined up next to inferior talent? More than likely….

    Is there a reasonable expectation that the right free agent or perhaps even a talented 1st Rd draft pick – could play well and have a good % of Barrett’s “impact” on the field – yet cost a good bit less $ – allowing LVD and Suh to return as well?

    Thats the big question.

    I lean towards paying to make sure LVD, Suh and Godwin are here in 2021 – then figure out who will make an impact for you off the edge opposite JPP – and at what price.

    As opposed to committing to Barrett for $20M – and then only having enough left over for 1 of the other 3 crucial pieces to this team.

    Hard decisions under a static at best or likely shrinking salary cap # – are exactly that. HARD

    Hate the idea that the Bucs would be forced to “lose” ANY member of the Super Bowl roster because of $ and salary cap restraints.

    A lot will depend on the final salary cap allowance #.

    If its closer to the $180M # – there’s just no way to keep everyone you would like to on a talented team like this.

    Lots of other teams will be in the same position as well though – and I like the Bucs chances of finding a few key contributors for a good price in that type of a free agency climate.

  43. PoundTheRock Says:

    The importance of VV…

    As per PFF

    Weeks 1-7
    1st in Overall Defense
    2nd Pass Defense
    1st Run Defense

    After week 7 until before NFC Championship Game
    14th Overall Defense
    14th in Pass Defense
    6th in Run Defence

    Joe, who was the missing piece?
    The proof is in the numbers, it is pretty evident…as Lovie would say, “It’s as simple as that” 😉

  44. Bucs-Hoops Says:

    Great read Joe- not that I throw ca-ca thinking he is “expendable”, I absolutely think his value- due to the supporting cast, ESPECIALLY V- is easier replaced (to his level, maybe not, but close?) than the value lost by other FA’s and their potential replacement.
    Real reason for writing- have you ever considered a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” type feature on comments (much like PFT)? It takes a particular type of ca-ca throwing to get involved with back-and-forth commenting that goes on- of which I have no interest. It would be beneficial (for us as readers, for you to gauge readers opinions) to easily “agree” or “disagree” with other fans in the comments. Just a thought… Love the site, been a long-time reader, and a Bucs fan even before I watched Barry Sanders run rampant in the Sombrero in ’94 (I was 13!)

  45. Robert Says:


  46. buxszntkt Says:

    Joe you poor misguided ignorant slut ! (from now on it will be Joe, ypmis, your moniker, lol)
    Stats can always be chosen to prove a point. We know what we saw. Vea definitely helped Shaq get more penetration in the backfield. We are not saying Shaq is not critical , well, some of us anyway. We are just saying Vea greatly assists Shaq, and Shaq is very good. I don’t believe Shaq is Elite , he isn’t the Von Miller of the Peyton Manning years but he is as good as or a bit better than anyone we could possibly obtain in FA, and he is in sync with JPP. The chemistry of the front 7 is perfect now, cannot mess with any of it.
    (of course if you obliterate my post I will have to stop)

  47. Darin Says:

    Lol. Easy to say when we’ll never know. I think u meant Brady not Shaq.

  48. Capt.Tim Says:

    Shaq is a monster talent.
    Vea is a monster talent
    JPP is a Monster talent
    White and David are monster talents.
    Suh is a monster talent.

    Thats how you win Superbowls.
    You have more guys that can win against their guys.
    The more great players, the less they can double team.
    Its just that easy.

  49. unbelievable Says:

    It’s funny how Joe dismissed pressures all season long, but now says they’re important