The news came across a few hours ago that Pittsburgh has emerged as a possible landing spot for the soon-to-be no-longer-retired running back, Tiki Barber. Now I warn this is coming from the New York Post and midway through the article Mark Lepselte, Tiki\’s agent, said he has not spoken to any teams about Barber. That would include the Steelers as well.
The first questions would be, is there any room for Tiki with the Steelers and would he even fit? The Steelers currently have Rashard Mendenhall entrenched as the starter and he certainly is not going anywhere. He is all set to carry the ball another 300 times in 2011. 3rd down specialist Mewelde Moore is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but it is not out of the question that the Steelers could bring him back if the price were right. Including the playoffs, Moore only was on the field for just less than 300 snaps. That works out to about 16 a game. In addition to Mendenhall and Moore, Isaac Redman also turned the corner in 2010 and saw nearly 225 snaps on offense last season. Redman has improved his conditioning and blocking as well and showed he can be used out of the backfield has a pass catcher if needed. In just 52 carries, Redman averaged 4.8 yards. Not bad for spot duty. Not to be forgotten is Jonathan Dwyer, the late round 2010 draft pick out of Georgia Tech, only saw action on the gameday roster once last season against the Browns in week 17 and has a handful of things to work on this offseason. Mainly his blitz pickup blocking and his recognition. There is no doubt he can run the ball, it is the other little things that he must master in order to be active on gameday.
Back to Barber now. He was highly critical of the Giants organization, his quarterback, and other players and coaches on his way out the door to retirement. That sort of thing will not sit well with Mike Tomlin or the other Steelers brass. Former Giants linebacker and Barber teammate Antonio Pierce said a few days ago that Barber would probably not be a very good locker room presence wherever he ends up. That is certainly not what you want to hear as a Steelers fan. Another issue would be the money. The minimum salary for a 10-year veteran in the NFL is just over $860,000 and Barber would likely want some incentives as well that could push it even higher. The Steelers could just re-sign Moore for near the same price and know exactly what they are getting.
Last but not least, Barber certainly would not play on special teams and we still do not know what shape he will turn up in either. As it stands right now, Tiki looks very high risk with very little reward at the age of 35. The Steelers are usually pretty keen on these types of free agent signings of players with tread on them and I just do not see Barber as a fit. Let Barber head on down to South Florida and play with his twin brother Ronde Barber instead. In my opinion Barber is not a solid guy and certainly not Steelers material. I wouldn\’t want him in black and gold and you shouldn\’t either.
UPDATE: Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette has since reported via Twitter that despite the reports by the New York Post, the Steelers have no interest in Barber. That should end that speculation.