Given his history with the organization, it’s more than reasonable to believe the Buccaneers would have continued to give Ronde Barber a job.
But without a clearly defined or significant role, it was easier for Barber to decide to retire yesterday.
Barber admitted as much to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, saying the Buccaneers’ offseason additions left little for him to contribute to the process.
“Now don’t get me wrong, if [GM] Mark [Dominik] and [coach] Greg [Schiano] would’ve said, ‘Hey, we absolutely need you to play, you played great last year, here’s X amount of dollars, come play, we need you…’ That wasn’t necessarily the case,” Barber said. “They’re reshaping that football team. You’re spending a quarter of a billion in free agents in two years, they’re definitely going in a new direction.
“But that wasn’t a factor. I’ve had that conversation with Mark the past couple of years about them needing to sign guys for the future and put players on this team again. Let’s be honest, we have a hard time drawing [fans] in this town, so those additions for us are almost essential.”
Over the last two offseasons, the Bucs made aggressive moves to replace Barber in the secondary, signing free agent cornerback Eric Wright and drafting safety Mark Barron last year, then signing safety Dashon Goldson, trading for cornerback Darrelle Revis and drafting Johnthan Banks this year.
That would have left him with a small role as a backup, and that was going to be hard to accept. Barber said if he had a starting job, he might have returned.
“Possibly. That would’ve made it a little bit harder of a decision, obviously,” Barber said. “But that wasn’t the case. They wanted me to play, I don’t doubt that at all. I had open lines of communication with Mark the past couple of years about continuing to play.
“At the end, it was me deciding I didn’t need football as much as I once did and it was time to venture into a new thing.”
That new thing will be on television, though he didn’t say where he planned to work or what he planned to do for them.
But in the end, a career that included 240 straight regular season games, 47 interceptions, 14 touchdowns on returns, over 1,000 tackles and a Super Bowl ring makes it easier to step into the next phase of his career.