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Barber might be willing, but return to NFL won't be easy

Someone hasn't told Tiki Barber, soon to be 36, that running backs are a tad passé once they hit 30 years of age. Or, that taking off for four seasons and trying to come back is pretty much a right held exclusively by boxers, coaches and the Olympics.

The news that he plans to come out of retirement -- and that the Giants didn't hesitate to relinquish his rights -- is surprising on one hand (that he's coming out of retirement) and not quite as much on the other (the Giants don't want him).

Barber says his twin brother Ronde gave him motivation to return because Ronde is still playing at a high level. Ronde never took off and, as a corner, he's not getting ram-rodded by 280-pound defensive linemen every play, either. We'll see if those are Tiki's sole motives, but I'm not going to knock the guy for trying.

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I also don't think he would put himself out there like this if his agent or someone hasn't taken the temperature of teams to see if there's interest. That said, there might not be football in 2011, first of all. If there is, you better believe this draft class and free agents DeAngelo Williams, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Reggie Bush and even Mewelde Moore might get a call before Barber.

Barber is a low-risk, potential-reward investment, but he's also been out of football since the ink on the expiring collective bargaining agreement was still moist.

Sure, the absence could have alleviated some of the pounding his body has taken, but it's also kept him away from the game itself, and some of the new blood, like Clay Matthews, he might have to wrangle with. Barber's minimum salary also won't be overly minimal because he's 10 seasons in -- and that could be a deterrent depending on how money is re-allocated to veterans should a rookie wage scale be implemented (likely) into the new collective bargaining agreement.

I would say that a team like Arizona might give him a shot, but they've gone the "seasoned" running back route with Edgerrin James and Emmitt Smith already. The Vikings could be a possible fit because they certainly could use a back with his skill set. The Rams, Texans, Colts and Dolphins could all be teams to give Barber a look. It couldn't hurt. He retired following the 2006 season while he still had game (1,662 yards, 58 receptions).

Then again, he retired when Brett Favre was still a Packer, Chad's last name was still Johnson and the Giants were still the most popular team in New York.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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