Those clearly are the two leading scenarios, but let me throw out one more that is purely hypothetical.
What if Barber wants to continue playing, but doesn’t particularly like the role (and maybe even the money) the Bucs are offering him? Could Barber, who has played his entire career in Tampa Bay, end up playing for another team?
Again, it may be a long shot that Barber, an unrestricted free agent, would consider going elsewhere. But there’s one situation out there that makes a lot of sense. In some ways, it could make more sense than Tampa Bay.
With last week’s signing of safety Dashon Goldson, it became pretty obvious Barber’s not going to be the starting free safety he was last season. And it’s probably safe to assume he’s not going to transition back to being a starting cornerback. With the Bucs, Barber is probably looking at a role as either the third safety or the nickel cornerback.
What if he wants to continue starting?
Remember, Barber is a guy with a lot of pride. And there’s one logical landing spot for him.
The Washington Redskins are desperate for a starting free safety. They have very little salary-cap room, but might be able to coax Barber into playing for the veteran minimum (or close to it) in exchange for a chance to remain a starter. And let’s keep in mind the Redskins were a playoff team last season and look like a contender to be one next season. It’s been a while since Barber’s been on a playoff team, and that could make this scenario tempting.
There are a few other tidbits that could make Washington tempting. Former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is Washington’s secondary coach. Washington general manager Bruce Allen held the same role in Tampa Bay during a good chunk of Barber’s career. Oh, and Washington coach Mike Shanahan already took one icon (John Lynch) out of Tampa Bay back when he was coaching Denver.
Again, I still think chances are good Barber will either return to the Bucs or retire. But, with each day there's no word from Barber or the Bucs, the more I think this hypothetical Washington scenario is at least worth pondering.