The Tampa Bay Buccaneers intend to use Ronde Barber at free safety this year according to Mark Dominik. During a podcast with Steve Wyche, Dominik made references to the team being able to pull Barber “back from safety” if Aqib Talib is not with the team. The move would ensure the Bucs make a severe upgrade to their 21st ranked pass defense from last season. The Bucs allowed 30 passing scores last year and a whopping 50 plays of 20+ yards through the air. After drafting Mark Barron, the Bucs would have a safety net in coverage should the move take place. With Barron likely to be very active in the box and used as a 4th linebacker at times, the need for reliability behind him is paramount. Using Barron’s athleticism is useless if teams are able to torch the Bucs deep. As with the drafting of Barron, this move makes complete sense and could have huge impact on game day.
The only drawback here is that it’s all a dream until Talib’s trial is over with. Should Talib avoid jail time and be acquitted, it would be plausible to see this secondary rank among the best in the league. Otherwise, there is much to be desired in E.J. Biggers or Myron Lewis becoming true #2 corners. There is still hope in keeping Barber at safety even if Talib does not return. Anthony Gaitor, Ahmad Black and new recruits Keith Tandy and Leonard Johnson. Both Tandy and Johnson show promise as possible year one starters if you listen to the praise Greg Schiano has heaped on them. Moving Barber to safety would ease the growing pains either are likely to suffer this season. Both Biggers and Lewis could make big advances under Ron Cooper and would also have Barber as their safety blanket as well. In the end, moving Barber to safety could strengthen the secondary even if they are weak at corner.