By Jeff Berlinicke
It happened all too early and all too often last season, the disastrous 5-11
campaign that kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs for the second
The Bucs would be in the game, trying to let their defense keep it close until
the offense could conjure something, and then there would be a breakdown in the
The Bucs kept the pressure up front all season but the defensive backfield would
give up the big play.
One thing is for sure, though. You can't blame the corners.
Incumbents Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber held up their end of the bargain all
season and both are back for 2005, albeit a year older.
Barber is one of the best in the business and, even if he isn't pleased with his
contract situation, Barber is a fixture who won't be going anywhere, salary
headaches or not. At 30, Barber has a lot of football left in him while Kelly on
the other side is only 29 and healthy for the first time since last training
During the off-season, there was talk that barber might be a salary cap
casualty, but it was never seriously considered. Barber is the ultimate team
player, constantly reworking his contract for the good of the organization while
quietly getting the job done and representing the Bucs at the Pro Bowl.
Barber had three interceptions last season, and made 111 tackles, once again
ranking among the league leaders. He and Kelly have combined for 39
interceptions as a tandem.
Kelly, on the other side, is one of the more underrated Bucs. He struggled with
injuries last season and is usually lost behind Barber in the headlines, but his
steady play has been a constant with the Bucs since the Super Bowl year of 2002.
The Bucs also signed veteran Juran Bolden to play nickelback, where he played 13
games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.
The Bucs stayed put in the draft at defensive back, and will struggle in case of
any injuries, but the position is strong and safe. That's important because the
safety position is a mess.
Cornerstones Are In Place For Bucs
Bucs Blitz Top Stories
Wackiest moments from 2017 Pro BowlThe 2017 Pro Bowl was filled with the NFL's best, and also included some memorable and enjoyable moments.
Scout NFL Network01/30/2017
5 Veteran QBs Who Make Sense For DenverThe Broncos might bring in a veteran quarterback in 2017. Publisher Chad Jensen breaks down five veteran signal-callers who could make sense.
Mile High Huddle02/18/2017
The Case For Jay Cutler In DenverAll signs point to the Bears parting ways with quarterback Jay Cutler. Is there any reason the Broncos should consider him as a veteran option?
Mile High Huddle02/16/2017
Jets impending free agents, who to keep?The Jets have 13 players set to be free agents this offseason, but are any of them worth keeping?
Steelers in Free Agency: OffenseThe business side of football begins today, so Dale Lolley takes a look at some potential free agent fits for the Steelers.
Steel City Insider02/15/2017