Winding road of Connor Barth's NFL journey leads him back to Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. -- Connor Barth slipped on a black shirt that read "TAMPA BAY," eager to begin a new chapter in a familiar home.

This was early Wednesday afternoon in the locker room at One Buc Place, a day after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed the veteran kicker. Barth has lived a journey with many twists since he finished the 2012 season as Tampa Bay's answer at the position. He's eager for a fresh start.

"I think it's pretty normal for a kicker," Barth said of his path. "It's very rare these days that you're going to stick with one team. So you've kind of got to look at it as a business. You're kind of a consultant. There's what, 32 jobs? It's just a blessing to be able to play wherever, no matter where it is. To be able to be one of the 32 guys again, it's pretty cool."

There's a back-to-the-future feel with Barth's return. The North Carolina product hit 84 percent of his field goal tries and made all 110 extra points in his first stint with the Bucs from 2009-12. His best year came in 2011, when he made 26 of 28 field goals, setting a franchise record for percentage (92.9).

But in July 2013, Barth tore his right Achilles while playing in a charity basketball game in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Bucs placed him on injured reserve, and in August 2014 he was cut when Tampa Bay chose to go with then-rookie kicker Patrick Murray to start the season.

Barth joined the Denver Broncos five games last year, going 15-for-16 on field goal tries and making all 15 of his extra points. But the team released him on Aug. 26 because he failed to produce touchbacks consistently. A day later, the Bucs brought him back to compete for the kicking job, but he was released on Sept. 5 after rookie Kyle Brindza won the position.

Barth, 29 said he stayed in shape at his North Carolina home with a trainer's help this fall as he waited for his next NFL opportunity. "I've got this 300-pound tire," Barth said. "I've been flipping that down my street a little bit. Neighbor's been a little weird about that, but it has been fun."

He also participated in beach workouts, kicked at his old high school in Wilmington and received guidance from kicking coach Dan Orner in Charlotte. "Just staying sharp," he said. "And mentally, [I was] just staying sharp. So just waiting for a call."

That call came after Brindza went just 6-for-12 on field goal tries and 6-for-8 on extra points this season, including a miserable 2-for-7 showing on field goal attempts the past two weeks. On Sunday, Barth tweeted that he was available for the right price.

"It's all fun," Barth said of the tweet. "You guys know me. I'm a light-spirited guy. I was just sitting around with my dad watching football, and we were just having some fun. It was just a fun thing. I'm just really excited to be here."

The Bucs will share the excitement if he proves to be a dependable answer to their uncertain kicking situation. Barth's path has taken many unexpected turns throughout the past two years, his future uncertain.

But it has led to a familiar destination, with a chance for renewal ahead.