Today marks the start of what could be a very busy week for the Buccaneers. With the March 12 start of free agency only a week away the deadline is fast approaching for the Bucs to make some very important decisions.
The most important may involve veteran safety Ronde Barber. If they havenít done so already the Bucs will likely meet with Barber this week to try to reach an agreement on the direction each would like to go in 2013.
The decision is no different than the one the Barber and Bucs have had to make each of the last two or three years, but neither side has ever gone this deep into the calendar before stating their intentions.
That could be a sign Barber has yet to decide whether to retire or play a 17th season or it could be a sign the Bucs are ready to move on or are waiting to see if Barber will accept a non-starting role.
Either is a possibility. The Bucs drafted Mark Barron seventh overall last April primarily to fill the role Barber wound up playing, which is that of the attacking safety working primarily inside the tackle box.
But the Bucs still consider Barberís leadership, skill and work ethic exemplary. And while there is concern that at 38 he may hit the proverbial wall at some point soon, they believe he still retains plenty of value.
So, should Barber be willing to accept a lesser role he will almost certainly be back for another year. If not this could be the week he announces his retirement or decides to make a break for another organization.
Another decision that could be made this week regards cornerback Eric Wright, whom the Bucs have lost some faith in after an inconsistent 2012 season in which he missed time because of injuries and a four-game suspension for Adderall use.
If Wright is willing to accept a reduction in pay from the $7.75 million heís slated to earn in 2013 he could be back for another year, but a lot may depend on how the Bucs view the class of free agent cornerbacks.
If the Bucs believe they can get an upgrade for equal or lesser value they may decide to cut ties altogether with Wright, who lost the guarantee on his 2013 salary when he was slapped with the suspension.
There is also a decision to make regarding strongside linebacker Quincy Black, whose entire football future was cast into doubt when he suffered nerve damage in his neck and shoulder during the Bucs victory over San Diego last year.
The Bucs could hold on and hope Black eventually recovers but with a 2013 salary or $5.5 million it will make more business sense to let him go and spend that money on a more certain option.
The good news for Black is that even if he is let go he immediately becomes eligible for a $1 million insurance payout and would be eligible for another $500,000 insurance payout a year from now should he not return by then.