NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Carl Nassib has a new number with one of his old teams, and the outside linebacker couldn’t be happier playing with Shaq Barrett again even if their Tampa Bay reunion came Wednesday in a different city.
“Shaq was killing it today,” Nassib said. “I mean he’s an All-Pro guy, and I’m excited to keep learning from him and to get a chance to work with him again is pretty fun.”
The Buccaneers signed Nassib, who became the NFL’s first active player to come out as gay in 2021, in time for a joint practice Wednesday with the Tennessee Titans. Nassib flew to Nashville to join a team he played for in 2018 and 2019.
Nassib had 12 1/2 sacks over 29 games with the Bucs, the best stretch of his six-year career. Barrett led the NFL with 19 1/2 sacks in 2019. Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said that connection was one of the reasons they decided to bring Nassib back.
“We have a good relationship with him,” Bowles said. “We thought he could still play. We thought he’d be great because he brings a lot of versatility to what we do, and he knows the system. So knowing the system, having the ability to still play and have a camaraderie with the guys was important for us.”
Nassib had been waiting to sign with a team since he wrapped up a two-season stint with the Raiders, including playing 13 games last season. He wasn’t surprised at the wait before signing.
“I was being selective, and this was a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Nassib said.
Nassib wore No. 94 with Cleveland, his first stint with Tampa Bay and the past two seasons with the Raiders. He started talking with the Bucs a couple of days ago with outside linebacker Cam Gill dealing with a Lisfranc injury from the Bucs’ preseason opener, and now he’s wearing No. 93 because it was available.
He hadn’t gotten a playbook before hitting the field Wednesday for the first of two joint practices before Saturday night’s exhibition with Tennessee (0-1).
Little has changed with the Bucs since Nassib’s last game with them.
“I still got my same friends, still have the same coaches from when I was here,” Nassib said.
One big change from when he last wore a Bucs’ uniform is that Nassib came out as gay in June 2021 in an Instagram post because representation and being visible matters. Nassib said the response has been nothing but a blessing since then.
“I’ve gotten the most support from family, friends, teammates, and I’m really, really happy,” Nassib said.
“And it’s a new year, and I’m excited to be a football player again. I’m excited to just go out there show what I can do and help the team anyway that I can.”