The front office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with their fans, coaching staff, players, including myself, wanted Ronde Barber to return for a 17th season.
After being with the team for as long as he has, it is pretty hard to picture this secondary without seeing that familiar #20 on the back of the jersey, along with ‘Barber’ stitched above it. But with the moves that the Buccaneers made this off-season and Barber already contemplating retirement, I was sure he was going to come back for one more season in hopes of another Super Bowl title.
“I’m not ready to make a decision on it. I’m pretty sure it will play itself out when the time comes.” - Barber on retirement from December.
Who knows if he would have started, but if he would have returned, he would have added more depth to this defense as he has played a few positions for this team, as he played corner for 15 seasons and free safety in his last. It would have been likely the team would have given Barber another spot on the roster, but would it have been a spot on the field? With the moves they have made, signing Dashon Goldson, trading for Darrelle Revis, reconstructed the deal with Eric Wright and then drafted corner-back Jonathan Banks in the 2nd round of the draft, competition going into camp and pre-season will be tough for anybody who is looking to start in this secondary.
So what would Ronde have done if he were to come back? He talked to Eric Kuselias from Pro Football Talk saying
“We had some discussions about what my role might be but I went into last year under the same circumstances. I knew they were going to make some moves in free agency. They were going to go get a a corner-back that they thought was going to be a starter and that my role was going to change and it would work itself out and they were very open about it and they were the same way this year. So I would’ve came back I’m not sure where I would’ve fit into that puzzle when we signed two pretty outstanding players, (Dashon) Goldson at safety and (Darrelle) Revis at corner.”
I would have liked to see Ronde Barber return for a 17th season, but in a way, I am glad he decided to call it a career. He had 16 wonderful seasons in this league and I would hate to see a possible hall of fame player sitting on the sidelines. Although I’m sure he would have had some playing time, but after all he has done for this team, he would have deserved a starting position on this team. I understand that teams need to get younger, but Ronde had at least another good productive season in him.
Mark Barron, who is the teams #1 pick from last season, is entering his second season at safety, where he would be next to Dashon Goldson who will start at free safety this season. So with the additions this team has made, it left very little room for Ronde Barber to fit in Tampa Bay’s plans.
“Eric Wright signed another deal to come back or restructured his deal to be back with us so I’m not sure where I would’ve fit in. It would have played itself out and I’m sure I would’ve decided to continue to play I would’ve been happy with whatever role that I would’ve landed in but as it stands nobody has to worry about that decision. It was time for me to move on. It was a personal decision, there were a lot of factors that weighed into it but I’m happy to be going on to what’s next for me.”
Now that his decision is made, what does Ronde Barber do now? I’m sure he will be a color commentator for NFL on FOX, even Tampa Bay pre-season games. The options for Ronde are endless, offers were probably thrown his way as soon as he announced he was retiring from the NFL, just like his brother Tiki. So now that he has officially begun his life after football, even though last season was the last time we would see Ronde play this game, I am hopeful this isn’t the last time we have seen Ronde’s face in this league.
“Over the last 16 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes. We’ve seen a new stadium go up. The uniforms have changed. Coaches, we’ve seen different players come and go. We’ve seen change upon change upon change. But over the years, there has been one constant here in Tampa. A true professional in every sense. What I consider the definition of greatness on and off the field. When we talk about Buccaneer Men, I say if you could put a picture on the wall and say, ‘True Buccaneer Man’, it would be Ronde Barber.” - Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazier on Ronde Barber.
Either as a coach, color commentator, even side-line reporter, we all know Ronde Barber is not completely done with the National Football League. Removed his game day uniform, time to put on a game day dress suit and get ready to report or call games. Ronde even said himself yesterday that his next step is to likely start a career in broadcasting and has no intention on leaving Tampa Bay.
“I love football, but football is not who I am. I’m ready to move on, ready to do what’s next. I’m not going anywhere, I’ve got nowhere else to go.” – Ronde Barber
I agree with Joel Glazier, Ronde Barber is a True Buccaneer Man through and through. Can’t wait to see where he ends up next, this time as a rookie in broadcasting.