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Tampa Bay Buccaneers tell Ronde Barber he'd be welcomed back

TAMPA — The Bucs have told Ronde Barber they want him back for a 16th season. He told them he needs a little more time to think about it.

That was the outcome of a meeting Friday between Barber, Bucs coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik.

"Ronde, Coach Schiano and I have had several meetings. He knows we'd like him back for a 16th season," Dominik said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. "We will respect his wish for a little more time to make his decision and look forward to speaking with him again soon."

Barber, who turns 37 next month and owns the NFL's longest starting streak at 199 games, will become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.

The five-time Pro Bowl cornerback was the team's most consistent defensive player last season with 79 tackles, a sack and three interceptions. He broke his arm in the first half of the season finale at Atlanta and had surgery but is not expected to miss any time this offseason should he decide to resume playing.

"We've had some candid conversations about my future," Barber said in a text to the Times. "And yes, he told me they want me back. (The Bucs) are, however, going to be players at the (cornerback) position in free agency/draft, but that doesn't affect my decision."

A year ago, Barber signed a one-year contract for $4 million. With starting cornerback Aqib Talib facing a trial this month in Texas on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, Tampa Bay hopes to clear up its picture at defensive back before the start of free agency Tuesday.

However, Barber said Friday that the Bucs have not given him a timetable to make his decision: "I'm under no pressure."

The Bucs are $67 million under the salary cap and are expected to make a run at signing either Titans free agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan or Chiefs free agent Brandon Carr. The Bucs also own the No. 5 overall pick in the draft and are in a prime position to possibly select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tell Ronde Barber he'd be welcomed back 03/09/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 9, 2012 9:46pm]

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