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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Ronde Barber's return gives Bucs stability

By Pat Yasinskas

Let’s take a moment to weigh in on one NFC South item that doesn’t deserve to get lost in the shuffle of the New Orleans Saints punishment for their bounty program.

Barber
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced that they’ve agreed to contract terms with veteran cornerback Ronde Barber on a one-year deal that means Barber will play his 16th season with the team.

This is significant on several levels. First off, even though he'll be 37 next month, Barber still can play. He weighed retirement, but the Bucs wanted him back, mainly because they need him. Although they did sign free-agent cornerback Eric Wright, there’s uncertainty elsewhere at the position. Starter Aqib Talib has an April trial in Texas on an assault charge. Talib could face prison time or a suspension by the NFL. With Barber and Wright, the Bucs are guaranteed of having two quality corners. They also have some young corners and could add more in the draft.

So there’s some stability at the position, but more importantly, Barber’s return assures some stability in the locker room. Although Barber isn’t known as a classic vocal leader, he’s a good guy to have in the locker room. He conducts himself very professionally and it’s likely some of that will rub off on some of the young players and help them develop into leaders.

Finally, I think this move is significant for coach Greg Schiano as he adjusts to the NFL. He's got a veteran guy that's been to Pro Bowls and that's nice to have around. This is a better start to the Schiano era than the start predecessor Raheem Morris got off to in 2009. Soon after being named the coach, Morris and the Bucs parted ways with iconic linebacker Derrick Brooks and that created a huge leadership void in the locker room.