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Rich Bisaccia's departure leaves Tampa Bay Buccaneers without special Super Bowl link

TAMPA — Raheem Morris is the only one left.

All of the members of the Super Bowl champion Bucs' coaching staff under Jon Gruden are gone after special teams coach Rich Bisaccia took the same position with the Chargers.

In 2002, Morris was a defensive quality control coach under the likes of Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli, Mike Tomlin and Joe Barry. (The offensive quality control coach was Jeremy Bates, Seattle's offensive coordinator.)

Bisaccia had nine seasons in Tampa Bay and turned down an offer to return to the Bucs.

Morris felt so highly of Bisaccia that he named him assistant head coach. And his impact wasn't felt just on fourth down.

Bisaccia was one of the most respected coaches in the building, whose Saturday night pregame speeches were legendary. If you were a rookie, Bisaccia was going to get your NFL career started on special teams and was going to be the most demanding coach.

Veterans such as Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber and Shelton Quarles routinely volunteered to play special teams long after they were Pro Bowl players. So why did Bisaccia leave for what appears to be a lateral move?

Part of it was contractual. Bucs officials say he wanted more years on his contract than the other assistants were offered. Change of scenery and a new challenge might be other reasons. When you spend that many years in one place, you can feel taken for granted.

But how about winning?

The Bucs won a Super Bowl in 2002 under Gruden. Since then, they have gone eight years without winning a playoff game and have not appeared in the postseason since 2007.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a winning organization and work with Norv Turner," Bisaccia said. "There's a real opportunity here to win it all. I've worked with Jon Gruden, and now I have the opportunity to work with Norv Turner. These are two of the best coaching minds in football. I'm really looking forward to it."

Help me, Ronde: CB Ronde Barber said he would like to decide on his future within a few weeks after the end of the season. The 35-year-old will be a free agent and could walk away with a 14-year career that ranks him among the best cornerbacks to play the game.

What Barber needs answered first is whether the Bucs still see him as part of their future. The team wants to continue to build with youth, which means players such as CBs Aqib Talib, Myron Lewis and E.J. Biggers.

There's no question Morris believes Barber could play another several years if his role were reduced to playing in the slot on passing downs. It's not all about money, but there is a financial component involved. Veterans don't play this long without a grueling offseason workout program, and there is a price attached to that commitment.

But GM Mark Dominik might have provided a hint what the Bucs were thinking when he lauded Barber for the way he finished the season. Veteran players generally decline in December, and Barber excelled.

"I think that'll be a good private conversation with myself and Ronde and his agent," Dominik said. "If we want to talk about how Josh Freeman played at the end of this season, I think you could say the same about how Ronde Barber played at the end of the season. For the many years he's got in the National Football League and to play at that level and to feel like he knew what (Saints QB) Drew Brees was already going to do on a majority of the plays was phenomenal. I was really impressed with the way he finished his 2010 season."

JJ to 49ers?: Trades cannot be made until the NFL labor dispute is resolved, but the first call 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh should make is to the Bucs to trade for QB Josh Johnson.

Harbaugh coached Johnson at San Diego, so he's familiar with his system. That's important because the potential lockout could limit first-year coaches from installing their offensive and defensive systems.

Johnson is from Oakland and will be a free agent in 2012. For the right draft pick, the Bucs probably wouldn't stand in the way of him becoming a starting NFL quarterback.

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

Rich Bisaccia's departure leaves Tampa Bay Buccaneers without special Super Bowl link 01/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 7:19pm]

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