Ronde Barber retires after 16 seasons
16 years later, Barber found himself a free agent deciding between two things - to play as a backup for the only franchise he's ever known, or to hang 'em up and begin his post-football life. As many cornerbacks do in the late stages of their careers, Barber made the transition from cornerback to safety in 2012. The 37-year-old proved that he still has plenty left in the tank, as he racked up 92 tackles (third on team), 13 passes defended (team-high), four interceptions (team-high), and a sack.
However, the Bucs' pass defense struggled as a whole in 2012, and they have since brought in the league's premier cover safety - Dashon Goldson - to improve it. Also having acquired several cornerbacks by trading for Darrelle Revis, drafting Johnthan Banks, and retaining Eric Wright, Barber would play nothing more than a minor reserve role if he continued his career in Tampa. The Bucs were interested in bringing Barber back, but after mulling it over for a couple months, Barber ultimately decided to retire.
Barber wraps up his career as a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and one-time Super Bowl champion. He holds the defensive back record for consecutive starts with 215. A perennial playmaker for the Bucs' defense, Barber racked up 28.0 sacks and 47 interceptions over the course of his career - he is the only player in NFL history to record 25+ sacks and 40+ interceptions. He also forced 15 fumbles, recovered 12, and defended 166 passes since it became a recorded stat in 2001. To top it all off, Barber scored 12 defensive touchdowns, and added one more on a punt return in 1998. He was arguably the third best player of his draft class behind only Jason Taylor and Tony Gonzalez.
Barber's leadership, toughness, and ability to create turnovers are among his best qualities, and they are likely to result in his eventual induction into the Hall of Fame.