Pondering Ronde Barber's role

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
11:01
AM ET
Veteran defensive back Ronde Barber still hasn’t told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if he plans to return for another season.

[+] EnlargeRonde Barber
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsA third-round draft pick in 1997 by the Bucs, Ronde Barber has been a mainstay in Tampa.
Barber presumably is in the process of deciding if he wants to return to the rigors of football or if he wants to begin the easy life of retirement. But there might be one other factor at work here.

Barber might be looking at the role he would fill for the Bucs and deciding if he can be content with that.

The Bucs and Barber have met previously and the team has even gone so far as to publicly announce it wants Barber back. But only the Bucs and Barber know for sure what they’ve talked about when it comes to the role he would fill if he returns.

But it’s not too hard to read the tea leaves and get a general idea of what role the Bucs might have in mind for Barber.

He started at free safety last season, but that position no longer is open. The Bucs went out and signed Dashon Goldson to a big contract in free agency.

Prior to last season, Barber had been a cornerback and a very good one. But I don’t see the Bucs moving Barber back to a starting cornerback job. They’ll either trade for Darrelle Revis or draft a cornerback early and that guy will start opposite Eric Wright.

That means Barber would be looking at being a backup safety, a nickel cornerback or a combination of the two.

Barber is a guy with a lot of pride and those roles might not be all that appealing. Makes you wonder if Barber, who has spent his entire career with Tampa Bay would consider going somewhere else where he could start (the Washington Redskins?).

The Bucs have been patient with Barber, and that’s the least they can do for a guy that’s done so much for the franchise.

But, at some point in the next few weeks, Barber is going to have to make a decision. And he’s going to have to decide if he can be content with a reduced role.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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