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Who Needs A Barber?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 9, 2011 – 9:53 am

Ordinarily you’d think a story on the vikings.com Blog about a retired NFL player coming out of retirement would include the name Brett Favre. But not this time. Well, this entry includes Favre’s name but the discussion does not center on him.

Instead it centers on RB Tiki Barber, who retired after the 2006 season but has recently filed paper work to return to the NFL. The Giants released a statement saying they’ll release him from their retired/reserve list, indicating they intend to release his rights all together and allow him to become a free agent.

So, that begs the question: Where will he land?

I haven’t spoken with any Vikings brass and to my knowledge no one from the organization has disclosed an opinion on Barber’s chances of landing in Minnesota. My early thought is that he’s not a great fit here, but that can always change. As I thought more about it, there were 11 teams that came to mind as candidates to take a serious look at him. After drilling down further, I’ve eliminated 7 of those teams.

The 4 remaining teams are: Detroit, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

This is just me speculating and it provides fun discussion during a relatively slow time. Before we get to the teams, bear in mind the limitations associated with Barber. He’s going to turn 36 before the season starts, he doesn’t represent a realistic option as the feature or #1 RB and he probably has no special teams value. So he’s going to take up a roster spot but at the same time his contributions will be limited.

Let’s take a look at those 4 teams…

Detroit Lions
Obviously the Lions have a talented young RB in Jahvid Best, be we all know that teams need multiple backs on their roster. The RBs currently on the Lions roster are Aaron Brown, Ian Johnson, Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith. The uncertain climate caused by the CBA makes it difficult to gauge which of these RBs will return to Detroit for 2011, but either way I think Barber represents a potential upgrade at the position.

Pittsburgh Steelers
As is the case with the Lions, the Steelers have a young, talented feature back in Rashard Mendenhall. Pittsburgh also has a talented cast of complementary backs in Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman as well as youngsters Jonathan Dwyer and James Johnson. Even still, I wouldn’t put it past the Steelers organization to take a look at Barber and perhaps find a role for him. The way the Jerome Bettis era ended in the Steel City makes me realize that the franchise knows how to handle a situation such as Barber’s and perhaps an organization that is known for making all the right moves will deem giving Barber a flier the right move.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The obvious connection here is that Tiki’s twin brother Ronde plays for the Bucs. But there’s potential for a logical fit, too. LeGarrette Blount showed some promise last season plus Cadillac Williams is still there, but neither of those guys make it impossible for Barber to find a niche in Tampa. Kareem Huggins and Kregg Lampkin are also there, as is Earnest Graham. But again, none of those names make anyone think a job is unattainable. Keep an eye on this one, if not for the lone reason that Ronde is there.

Washington Redskins
The Redskins just dumped a veteran RB in Clinton Portis, so perhaps they have no interest in acquiring another one in Barber. But head coach Mike Shanahan knows offense and I wouldn’t put it past him to think he can squeeze the last little bit out of Barber. The biggest hurdle to Washington adding Barber, assuming they’d have an interest in him (big assumption), is that the RB stable is probably at capacity and there are actually talented players in that stable. Andre Brown, James Davis, Shawnbrey McNeal, Chad Simpson, Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams and Darrel Young are already on the roster, and I’m not sure that Barber represents enough of an upgrade over most of those names to displace a youthful runner with a bigger upside.

What do you all think?


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