Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/21/12
The Iron Man is will show his mettle for at least one more year. Ronde Barber, a fixture of the Tampa Bay Bucs secondary since the late 1990s, will return for his 16th season, the club announced Wednesday. Thats good news for a secondary that was burned for a league-worst 30 touchdowns last year. The 36-year-old cornerback currently holds the longest active streak for starts in the NFL with 199. In fact, he has started every game for the Bucs since Week 10 of the 1999 season and his streak represents the longest by a cornerback in NFL history. "Coach Schiano, Mark Dominik, and the Glazer family have been terrific throughout this process, Barber said in a statement. I'm really excited about the direction of the team, the moves we've made, and I can't wait to get back to work." Judging from his performance last season, during the Bucs dismal 4-12 showing, Barber should still have plenty left in the tank. He started all 16 games in 2011 and finished with the fourth-most tackles on the team (77), amassed five tackles for loss, picked off three passes, defensed 11 more and notched a sack, fumble recovery and forced fumble (one of only two Bucs to post a statistics in all of those categories). In addition, Barber was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the ninth time in his career. Not a bad payoff for the 5-10, 184-pounder selected in Round Three of the 1997 draft out of Virginia. Barber will have a chance to enhance his already impressive body of work, while adding continuity to the defensive backfield in the new Schiano regime. Heading into 2012, the five-time Pro Bowlers 224 consecutive games played is tied for the second-longest streak by a defensive player in the NFL since 1970. He has 43 career interceptions and 27 sacks, making him the only player in NFL history to have 40 or more interceptions and 25 or more sacks in a career. His 1,337 tackles rank second in team history behind only former linebacker Derrick Brooks and his 11 touchdowns on fumbleinterceptions returns stands at fifth in NFL history. Barber is also the only defensive back in the NFL since the 1970 merger to start all of his teams games for 12 straight seasons. Details of his deal were not known, though Barbers one-year deal in 2011 was worth 4-million. He will likely compete for the right corner position with recently acquired free agent Eric Wright, the former Cleveland Brown and Detroit Lion who signed a deal worth 37.5-million over five years. The status of left corner Aqib Talib is still up in the air. Hell soon be going trial in Texas trial for an incident last year involving charges for assault with a deadly weapon. If the trial goes his way, and no suspensions are imposed, he would further fortify the battered Buc secondary.
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