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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs great Ronde Barber hasn't closed door on returning



Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, who becomes a free agent next month and has been pondering retirement, said he remains noncommittal on next season.

But don't think the 36-year-old has closed the door on returning for a 16th season.

“Things have to play themselves out like they did last year,” Barber said Saturday night at former teammate Shelton Quarles’ charity event at the Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach. “We’ll have a meeting of the minds like we did last year and if I fit in, we’ll go from there.”

That would suggest Barber wants to play in 2012. When asked if that was the case, Barber said, “I’m not leaning one way or the other. I’m not allowing myself to lean one way or the other. I’m pretty sure where I stand, but I haven’t allowed myself to commit.

“It means, I don’t know. I don’t know is the best I can tell you. It could be either (outcome).”

Barber agreed last year with general manager Mark Dominik to approach his remaining seasons on a year-to-year basis, playing 2011 on a one-year deal. The coaching change that led to the dismissal of Barber’s close friend, Raheem Morris, could impact his decision. The Bucs' defense is likely to change schematically and there remain many unknowns. The club is yet to hire a defensive coordinator.

Barber recently met with Greg Schiano, but only briefly.

“He seems like a very convicted guy,” Barber said. “I think that’s what we were looking for with the hire. . . He seems like he has a plan from the little bit I talked him. I imagine, once he gets his staff assembled, he’ll get going pretty quickly.”

Meanwhile, has Barber gotten over that 4-12 debacle that was 2011?

“I haven’t thought about it to be honest with you,” he said. “I buried it with the last game of the season. I went into fan mode on this season pretty quickly, which is the easiest way. You learn from it pretty quickly when you think about the taste in your mouth. But the team will grow. Nobody wants to be as bad as we were. I think they’ll take something from that.”

[Last modified: Sunday, February 12, 2012 12:10am]


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