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Ronde Barber to retire from Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronde Barber entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick and a backup. He spent much of his career in the shadow of his twin brother, Tiki. He leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as one of the signature players in franchise history.

Barber is calling it a career after 16 seasons, he told Jay Glazer of Fox Sports on Wednesday. Barber made five Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pros.

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Ronde Barber through the years

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"I've had a better run than I ever could've dreamed of having," Barber said.

The Bucs were open to re-signing Barber, but it was clear he'd have a reduced role after the signing of safety Dashon Goldson following the drafting of Mark Barron last year.

Barber will be remembered for his toughness, versatility and durability. He holds the record for most consecutive starts by a defensive back (215) and is the only cornerback to record at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career. Only Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson scored more defensive touchdowns.

Tony Dungy's "Tampa 2" defense was one of the most dominant trends of the last decade. In many ways, Barber was the defining "Tampa 2" cornerback. He could tackle, cover and blitz, and he had great instincts to make big plays. He could play inside and out.

Barber will be an interesting case for the Hall of Fame Committee someday, and we believe he'll have a shot at enshrinement. But that's a debate for another day. There is no debating Barber's place as the rock of the Tampa Bay franchise over the last two decades, a player who outlasted his talented twin brother by six full NFL seasons.

That shows it wasn't all about the gene pool. Tiki Barber played with as much heart as any player in his generation.

UPDATE: Barber officially will announce his retirement during a press conference scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. PST.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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