December 23, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber (20) walks off the field after the game against the St. Louis Rams at Raymond James Stadium. St. Louis Rams defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Free agent safety/cornerback and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ronde Barber will not return to play a 17th season in the NFL, as the future hall-of-famer has instead opted to retire. Barber, age 38, is still an effective free safety and slot corner, and Barber graded out as the league’s No. 11 safety by Pro Football Focus in 2012.
Given the Cincinnati Bengals lack of depth at the safety position, Barber would have been an ideal candidate to sign during training camp if the coaching staff became concerned with a crop of safeties that will likely feature Reggie Nelson and rookie Shawn Williams starting, and some combination of Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles, George Iloka, and/or Tony Dye backing them up. Barber could have been a great addition, as he has Super Bowl experience and could be another veteran presence on a team hoping to breakthrough and become Super Bowl contenders.
If this is the end, it’s been an amazing ride for Barber, and a fun one to watch for any football fan. He finishes his career as a five-time Pro Bowl selection with 47 interceptions, 205 passes defensed, 1,234 tackles, 28 sacks and 16 forced fumbles in 241 career games.