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Last six games could decide Barber’s fate

Posted Nov 22, 2011 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Nov 22, 2011 at 02:38 PM

By IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—In six weeks, Ronde Barber faces another big decision.

Tampa Bay’s 36-year-old cornerback is finishing up his 15th NFL season and it’s been another good one for the savvy ironman. Barber has remained healthy and you can make a persuasive argument that he has been the most effective defensive back on the Buccaneers through their 4-6 start.

Now, it’s the finish that could play a pivotal role in determining whether Barber wants to return to the league’s youngest roster.

Barber was invigorated by Tampa Bay’s 10-6 record last year under Coach Raheem Morris, who has a special bond with No. 20. If the Bucs have some success the rest of the way, starting Sunday in Nashville, Barber may be inclined to come back and work with all those youngry kids.

But if the Bucs finish with only five or six wins, Barber could decide it’s time to move on.

He has quite a body of work behind him and not much left to prove between the lines. Barber doesn’t strike me as a guy happy to just pick up another big paycheck in 2012, unless he thinks the Bucs can compete with the league’s better teams.

If the future of Morris and GM Mark Dominik are linked to Tampa Bay’s finish, you could make the same argument about Ronde Barber, who hasn’t won a postseason game since that glorious 2003 afternoon in San Diego when all seemed possible for Buc supporters.

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