Give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers credit for at least using tact this time around in determining the future of a franchise icon.
General manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano reportedly have told veteran cornerback Ronde Barber they would like him back for a 16th season. Barber reportedly told Dominik and Schiano he’d like a little more time to make a decision. Presumably, Barber is weighing a return to the Bucs against retirement. But he also can become an unrestricted free agent and it’s at least possible he might want to continue his career somewhere else. Barber was particularly close to former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris, who now is the defensive backs coach in Washington.
But the Bucs have done their part in making it known they want Barber back. As long as they’ve offered Barber a decent salary, they’re not going to come off looking bad, no matter how things turn out.
That wasn’t the case in 2009, when Dominik and Morris categorically told linebacker Derrick Brooks they didn’t want him anymore. The move upset Brooks and outraged the fan base. The Bucs were beginning a youth movement at the time and, in hindsight, would have been wise to keep Brooks to help ease the transition.
Although Barber is not the vocal locker room leader Brooks was, he does have some value as a leader. He might not be the mentoring type, but other players can watch how he prepares himself and his professionalism and take lessons. That would help a franchise that’s still deep in a youth movement and now will be adjusting to a new coaching staff.