Oh brother: Twin Tiki says Ronde wants to play in '13
Ronde Barber wants to play for the Bucs next season and likely told them that in a meeting with club officials Thursday, according to his twin brother.
Former Giants running back Tiki Barber said Ronde is hoping to return for a 17th season. Barber is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.
"You know, he does (want to play),'' Tiki Barber told former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland, who hosts an afternoon radio show on 98.7 FM. "And there’s been some rhetoric around his motivation. ‘He’s too beat up; he can’t do it anymore.’ But I’ve talked to him multiple times over the last month and a half and it’s been the same. He’s told me this is the best he’s felt after a season in many years.
"Obviously, (in 2011) he broke his forearm at the end of the year and there was some question on whether he would come back or Mark Dominik would want him back with the new coaching staff. But his veteran presence has been so valuable to that secondary....(Bucs) fans know, there’s a bunch of knuckleheads, mainly because of youth on that secondary. They need a veteran presence, so I think there is a desire to have Ronde back.''
Tiki said Ronde was scheduled to meet with the Bucs Thursday. Last season, Ronde made a seamless switch from cornerback to safety and had 91 tackles, a sack, forced fumbed and four interceptions.
The Bucs have not indicated what, if any, role Barber might play in 2013. He will be 38 in April. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the league last season and must address the cornerback position either through the draft, free agency or both. The Bucs may also believe safety Mark Barron, the team's first-round pick from Alabama, might be better suited to play closer to the line of scrimmage in multiple-receiver sets, a role Barber has perfected during his stellar career.
Tiki said Ronde also has been exploring opportunities in case he decides to retire.
It's a delicate situation for the Bucs, who have never been very good at parting with iconic players such as Warren Sapp, John Lynch or Derrick Brooks.