Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Are the Bucs interested in Tiki Barber? If so, why?

Former Giants running back Tiki Barber appears still very determined to make a return to the NFL after four seasons on the sidelines, and now he's naming names when it comes to teams he'd like to play for.

As you might imagine, the Bucs are on his "short list", according to USA Today, which conducted a lengthy interview with Barber about his comeback effort. Also mentioned are the Steelers.

“We’re not looking to turn this into an auction,” Barber's agent Mark Lepselter told USA Today. “There are only a handful of coaches he would want to play for."

Barber's interest in the Bucs is obvious; his brother, cornerback Ronde, has spent his whole career with the team. But what's less clear is whether the Bucs have an actual interest in Tiki. And if so, um, why?

Adding a player like Tiki doesn't fit the profile of a Mark Dominik transaction. The Bucs general manager has skillfully lowered the median age of the team from one of the oldest clubs in the NFL to the youngest. He's stocked the backfield with players like LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Huggins, who is returning from a season-ending knee injury.

And the Bucs are a team that has gone out of its way to avoid distractions, which Barber could potentially become. Perhaps he's learned a lesson about what not to say in the locker room after many of his statements in New York proved divisive. But Giants quarterback Eli Manning's recent statement that Plaxico Burress -- another controversial former Giant -- would be more quickly accepted by teammates, is telling.

Furthermore, although Tiki was a superb player, one of the best to don a Giants uniform, returning to football at 36-years old after a four-year absence is more than a tall order: Actually, it's unprecedented. With a potentially abbreviated training camp and no offseason work, adding Tiki would seem like an experiment with a very low chance of success.

It would make for a very intriguing story if Tiki does indeed attempt this comeback. It would be even better if he actually succeeds. But doing so with the Bucs just seems like a very odd fit.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 8:33am]

    

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