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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Ronde Barber's deal will prevent another ugly split from Bucs



There have been a handful of truly great Buccaneers come and go in the past decade or so, each of them playing a significant role in bringing Tampa Bay its only Super Bowl championship in 2002.

But the elation of winning that title never seemed to prevent ugly breakups at the end of their Tampa Bay tenures.

Whether it's John Lynch, Warren Sapp or Derrick Brooks -- and to a lesser extent Mike Alstott -- none seemed to end their careers here in the way they would have wanted. Whether the fault lied with the team, the player or both, none of those Tampa Bay icons left in an ideal fashion.

Which brings us to Ronde Barber.

The 5-time Pro Bowl cornerback on Tuesday signed a 1-year contract extension that, as much as anything, will allow him to have more control over how and when his career ends. If he has a great season and decides to play some more, the Bucs likely would be happy to have him. If his play declines at 36-years old, then he seems ready to admit that and move on. If nothing else, Barber has learned from those who came before him and acted accordingly.

"If you sign a two-year deal, you have those issues," Barber said. "Do they let you go if my skill diminishes or what not? But I don’t see it that way. I'm still going strong. In the next year, we'll make another decision, same as I've made for the past couple of seasons. But from here on out, it's going to be a mutually-beneficial decision."

This way, Barber gets what he wants, and the Bucs get what they want. Both will have a say in whether Barber comes back or doesn't. Barber and general manager Mark Dominik talked this out over a recent dinner and came to an agreement on how to proceed.

Fair or not, the team has gained a reputation among many of its fans for tossing aside its most revered players. The most recent and vivid example was the decision by Dominik and coach Raheem Morris to release Brooks shortly after the pair was hired in 2009. From a football standpoint, this reporter found it hard to argue with the decision. But from a public-relations perspective, it was one of the most unpopular moves in franchise history. Don't think Dominik and the Bucs have forgotten all the fallout that resulted.

The NFL is far from a perfect world, where even arguably the best player in club history can be released without warning. But the way the Bucs and Barber have gone about handling this is pretty much the perfect way to approach a situation that otherwise could get dicey.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 11:27am]


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