The Buccaneers want free safety Ronde Barber back for another season and made that clear with a public statement on Saturday. Barber, who will turn 38 in April, is still mulling over his option to return for a 17th NFL season or retire, and needs more time to make that decision.
The Buccaneers have made it clear that they want free safety Ronde Barber to return for a 17th season, and following a meeting with Barber head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, the team's G.M. reiterated that publicly in a statement on Saturday.
"Coach Schiano and I met with Ronde this past week and expressed our
desire for him to return to play another season with the Buccaneers," Dominik said. "He
asked us for some time to make his decision and we certainly respect
Barber, who will turn 38 on April 7, appreciates the team's interest, but needs more time to decide whether he wants to retire from the NFL or play one more season with Tampa Bay. He signed a one-year contract worth $3 million last year after signing a one-year $4 million contract prior to the 2011 season.
"They want me to play, but they have left it up to me like they have pretty much every year," Barber told the Tampa Bay Times at the DeBartolo Family Foundation All-Star Celebrity Gala. "I've got time, so I'm going to take my time."
Barber has played more seasons (16) than any other player in Tampa Bay history. If he returns for a 17th season, Barber will tie Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis for the second-most in NFL history for the most seasons with an original team. Kicker Jason Hanson holds the record for spending 21 years with the Detroit Lions.
After spending his first 15 years at cornerback, Barber seamlessly made the transition to free safety in 2012 and was a Pro Bowl alternate. Barber is a five-time Pro Bowler, a distinction that ties him for the third-most appearances in franchise history with former strong safety John Lynch and middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson, in addition to being a three-time All-Pro, which is one h of that honor than either Lynch or Nickerson received.
Should Barber return, his legend will continue to grow. He has played in more consecutive games (240) with more consecutive starts (215) than any other Buccaneer, and his consecutive start streak is the most by any current NFL player. Barber has 232 career starts, including 200 consecutive starts at cornerback, which is the most in NFL history.
Not only is Barber, the Bucs' all-time leading interceptor with 47 picks, he is also the second-leading tackler in Tampa Bay history with 1,428,
ranking behind only former linebacker Derrick Brooks, who notched 2,198 stops in his Buccaneers
career. Barber is the only player in NFL history to record at least 40 interceptions
and 25 sacks in his career. His 28 career sacks are the seventh-most in Buccaneers history.
With two more sacks and three more interceptions Barber would become the
only player in NFL history with an even 50 picks and 30 sacks.
Barber’s 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 2002 NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia sealed the team’s victory and paved the way for the Buccaneers to win the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl title, which came against Oakland a week later. Barber’s pick-six of Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is widely regarded as the top play in Tampa Bay history.
In 2012, Barber had 91 tackles, one sack and once again led the Buccaneers with four interceptions, including one which he returned for a touchdown against Kansas City. Barber has scored the most non-offensive touchdowns in Buccaneers history (12). His 12 regular season scores are tied for the third-most in NFL history. With one more defensive score, Barber will be tied for first all-time with former NFL defensive backs Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson.
Despite solid play from Barber, Tampa Bay's pass defense ranked last in the NFL, and surrendered 297.4 yards per game. While the Bucs want Barber, a long-time team captain, to return, what is uncertain is whether or not he would be guaranteed his starting job back or whether there would be an open competition between Barber, third-year free safety Ahmad Black, who had a breakout season last year with 31 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles, and Keith Tandy, a 2012 sixth-round draft pick that led the Bucs in tackles in the preseason.
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