Per 1010 am CBS Sports radio host J.P. Peterson, Ronde Barber is expected to return to the Buccaneers this season. He cited a source close to Ronde Barber as giving him the information. After signing Eric Wright, Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, Barber has seen the most comprehensive free agency in Buccaneers history.
The Buccaneers have spent $30.2 million dollars of their cap space with the signings and are primed to make a run at the division title. If Ronde is to win another ring, this is his best chance since the Bucs 2002 season Super Bowl championship. If Barber does indeed return, the Bucs could go from one of the weakest secondaries to one of the best in the NFL. With the #5 pick in the 2012 draft, the Buccaneers have to opportunity to draft Morris Claiborne. He is considered to be the premiere corner back in the draft and would have a very comfortable transition since his coach in college, Ron Cooper, would be his coach at the professional level.
The possible return of Barber also opens up questions as to Aqib Talib’s future. The embattled corner is Texas trial in the coming weeks and if the Bucs do decide to draft Claiborne, his services will not be needed. Both Talib and Claiborne’s futures could be intertwined. If the Bucs cut Talib or if he is found guilty, it would signify the Buccaneers taking Claiborne in the draft. If he is acquitted and coach Schiano is serious about giving him another chance, then the Bucs are likely to look in another direction come the draft. Though Talib’s current involvement in a Tampa civil suit is likely a money grab, it very well could have soured the organization regardless of his Texas trial outcome.
The Buccaneers are serious about building for their future, so drafting Claiborne while allowing him to learn from Barber and Wright seems like the best scenario. It would ensure a Claiborne-Wright secondary for years to come while having icing on the cake for as long as Barber continues to play.
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