TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Cornerback Ronde Barber #20 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recovers a first quarter fumble against the Atlanta Falcons September 25, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced the return of cornerback Ronde Barber for a sixteenth season in the NFL on a one-year contract. Barber has started every game for the Buccaneers since week 10 of the 1999 season and holds the longest active streak of starts in the NFL with 199. That marks an NFL record for cornerbacks as well.
That record may come to an end this season, however, as Ronde Barber's skills have clearly declined to the point where he may not be an effective starter anymore. With the addition of Eric Wright and the presence of Aqib Talib on the roster (for now), Barber is just the third-best cornerback on the team. If the team does not lose Aqib Talib, Barber is likely to move to a role as a slot corner exclusively.
The Bucs have bought themselves some time at the cornerback with the return of Ronde Barber, but they must find a long-term starting cornerback soon. Aqib Talib's future in the NFL is uncertain, and his contract runs out after the 2012 season. The only quality cornerback the Bucs have signed for the long term is Eric Wright, and there are even some questions about his quality. Even with the return of Ronde Barber, the Bucs are not set at the cornerback position.