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Deal puts Barber in the fold
All-Pro cornerback is expected to sign a five-year extension that could net him as much as $24-million.
By RICK STROUD
Published August 1, 2006
LAKE BUENA VISTA - Ronde Barber will get his wish - and quite a few dollars - to finish his career in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs' All-Pro cornerback is expected to sign a five-year extension that could be worth as much as $24-million.
Barber, 31, would have become a free agent at the end of this season. But barring a last-minute glitch, he is expected to sign a deal that will guarantee him as much as $12-million over the next two years.
Agent Ethan Lock and Bucs general manager Bruce Allen were hammering out the details of the agreement Monday night, and Barber could sign the contract today.
"As before, we are close," Barber said in a text message Monday night. "But I have no contract in writing as of now. Hopefully, I will real soon."
One of the most popular players to suit up for the Bucs, Barber is the only cornerback in NFL history to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in a career. He needs just four more picks to eclipse Donnie Abraham's franchise career mark of 31.
While the salaries of defensive backs skyrocketed over the past few years, Barber was the loyal soldier who played out his current deal and never complained.
He was optimistic an agreement on an extension might be reached before the start of training camp, but the Bucs were busy getting their rookie draft picks signed in time for camp.
Recently, Barber reiterated his desire to finish his career in Tampa Bay.
"Obviously, I made it pretty evident throughout the years, even back to my other contract six years ago," Barber said. "It's just a great place to be, a great organization. I love my teammates, I love my coaches, even the new one we're starting to get to know. I think any player that has had any level of success with any team, they want to stay with that organization. And I definitely do."
Of course, Barber is fully aware how unusual it is for a player to spend his entire career with one team. He watched as defensive stars such as Warren Sapp and John Lynch were forced to leave the Bucs via free agency.
For a while, it appeared Barber, a three-time Pro Bowl player, might follow them out of town. But the Bucs recognized his importance to their Tampa 2 defense. Since becoming a starter in 1998, the Bucs have finished ranked in the top 10 in total defense every season.
If he never played another snap, Barber would have accounted for arguably the most critical play in Bucs history. He intercepted Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in the NFC Championship Game in 2003 and returned it for a touchdown.
That sent the Bucs to Super Bowl XXXVII, where they beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21.
The Bucs defense finished No. 1 in the NFL last season, and Barber is confident his team can make another run at a Super Bowl ring.
"We know what we're working for," Barber said. "I know what I'm working for and I want to be be and be a part of it."