The Buccaneers at all times made it clear that they wanted cornerback Rondé Barber to return for a 17th season. And that they were in no hurry whatsoever for him to make a decision.
And then as Barber took his time to make a decision, the Buccaneers signed safety Dashon Goldson in free agency, traded for cornerback Darrelle Revis, reworked the contract of cornerback Eric Wright, and drafted cornerback Jonathan Banks in round two.
So in the aftermath of free agency and the draft, the message became more and more clear. Sure, the Bucs would have given Rondé a spot on the roster, but they wouldn’t necessarily have given him a spot on the field.
To his credit, Barber isn’t complaining. While he has said that he would have returned if the team had made a Favre-style pitch (our words, not Barber’s), Barber has not hinted at any concerns regarding the changes the Bucs made to the secondary while Barber was making up his mind.
“We had some discussions about what [my role] might be but I went into last year under the same circumstances,” Barber told Erik Kuselias on Thursday night’s edition of Pro Football Talk. “I knew they were going to make some moves in free agency. They were going to go get a cornerback that they thought was going to be a starter and that my role was going to change and it would work itself out and they were very open about it and they were the same way this year. So if I would’ve came back I’m not sure where I would’ve fit into that puzzle when we signed two pretty outstanding players, Goldson at safety and Revis at corner.
“Eric Wright signed another deal to come back or restructured his deal to be back with us so I’m not sure where I would’ve fit in. It would have played itself out and I’m sure if I would’ve decided to continue to play I would’ve been happy with whatever role that I would’ve landed in but as it stands nobody has to worry about that decision. It was time for me to move on. It was a personal decision, there were a lot of factors that weighed into it but I’m happy to be going on to what’s next for me.”
Barber also continued to take the high road on a separate topic. Twin brother Tiki remains confounded by the fact that people hate him but love Rondé.
“He asked me that question this morning,” Rondé said of Tiki. “I didn’t give a good answer this morning and I probably can’t give a good answer now but you know he played in a city that honestly loves to hate their athletes after their done. They want to prop you up and they also want to bring you down. I lived in a city that celebrates unconditionally their heroes. Tampa’s a small town or at least has a small town feel and when you become one of their icons; you’ll always be an icon. It’s not necessarily that way up there.”
That’s not entirely accurate, as Gantt pointed out on Thursday. The two brothers handle their business differently. Indeed, what would Tiki have done if instead of grandstanding his retirement in a way that undermined the Giants’ 2006 season he waited until the offseason to make a decision and meanwhile the Giants signed, traded for, and drafted three other running backs?
Tiki would have been, yes, flabbergasted.
He’ll likely be even more flabbergasted if Rondé ultimately thrives as a member of the media in his post-football life.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!