Ronde Barber has been to five Pro Bowls, earned three Associated Press first-team All-Pro nods, broken the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' single-season and career records for interceptions and fashioned himself into the first 40-interception/25-sack player in NFL history…all over the course of 16 unparalleled seasons.
The Buccaneers want him to come back for a 17th.
As was the case a year ago, Barber is taking his time to make a measured decision between retiring and coming back for another NFL season. Last year, he chose to return and made a successful transition from cornerback to safety, earning Pro Bowl alternate status at his new position.
Since Barber is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, his return to the Buccaneers in 2013 would also require the team to want him back for another year. Of course, there was little mystery as to where the Bucs stood on that issue, and General Manager Mark Dominik and Head Coach Greg Schiano removed any remaining doubt this past week.
Dominik released this statement on Saturday, three days before the start of free agency:
"Coach Schiano and I met with Ronde this past week and expressed our desire for him to return to play another season with the Buccaneers. He asked us for some time to make his decision and we certainly respect that."