Barber, who can become a free agent, previously said he hadn’t reached any decision. As defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan spoke to the media Tuesday, he said most personnel decisions won’t be made until after the coaches and front-office staff return next week from the scouting combine.
“I haven’t hardly reached out to any of the guys other than some of the guys I’ve bumped into at the facility here the last couple of days,’’ Sheridan said. “Right now, we’re concentrating on getting ready for the combine coming up. When we come back free agency will be a priority. At that time, I know [general manager] Mark [Dominik] and [coach] Greg [Schiano] and I will start talking about defensive needs and our current roster and where the needs are and how we’ll address free agency. But a lot of that stuff has not been talked about in the short time that I’ve been here. Our biggest sense of urgency now is to get ready to go down to Indianapolis and try to make the best use of the four or five days while we’re in town there to evaluate the draft prospects.’’
But it’s likely the Bucs will need to know Barber’s future soon after the combine. The decision on that isn’t entirely up to the Bucs. Barber, who will turn 37 in April, could elect to retire. If Barber wants to continue playing, the Bucs face a complicated decision.
Barber is an icon in Tampa Bay and the last real link to the Super Bowl team. The Bucs haven’t always handled endings well and didn’t score many points with their fans when they released linebacker Derrick Brooks in 2009. But, even though the Bucs are building with youth, it’s possible they could make an exception and re-sign Barber. Aqib Talib, the other starting cornerback from last season, is facing a March trial on an assault charge. Talib faces the possibility of prison time and discipline by the NFL. The Bucs might want to keep Barber around to help them through the transition.