NFL Free Agency: The Latest Tiki Barber Rumors and Speculation

Corey CohnCorrespondent IIIJuly 1, 2011

NFL Free Agency: The Latest Tiki Barber Rumors and Speculation

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    Well, if we might not have football next season, the least we can do is discuss all the guys who are planning on playing anyway!

    Okay, that's not the least we can do.  But we can talk about Tiki Barber.

    The great New York Giants running back, who retired—perhaps prematurely—at the end of the 2006 postseason, has stated his intentions to return to the NFL in the yet-to-be-determined 2011 season.  He officially filed his papers in March to come out of retirement.

    But will he find a job?  Does he still have the skills to make it in professional football?  Will anyone miss him doing his NBC gig?

    Let's see what the latest news has to offer.   

Apparently, Teams Are "Interested"

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    Tiki Barber must know something we don't, because when he and his agent filed for his return to the NFL, his agent said, "There are interested parties."

    We have not heard explicitly who those parties are, though the murkiness could have to do with the ongoing NFL lockout, which prohibits contact between teams and players. 

    Of course, the statement might not have had anything to do with teams hoping to sign Barber.  Maybe the agent was referring to actual parties.  You know, like a coming-out-of-retirement party, or a good-luck party or a "what-are-you-thinking?!?" party.

Don't Expect a Happy Reunion

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    Anyone hoping to see Tiki Barber running for Big Blue again can set their sights somewhere else.  In a recent interview with Newsday, Barber recounts a conversation he had with New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese. 

    Barber said that Reese told him there would be interest in his return, but ultimately "it's not a real feasibility." 

    This shouldn't come as a huge shocker.  Regardless of whatever faith the Giants have in Barber's ability to play football, the running back was the center of many distractions during his time in New York. 

    He criticized head coach Tom Coughlin, called out then-teammate Michael Strahan for being greedy during the latter's contract negotiations and questioned quarterback Eli Manning's leadership skills.  To be fair, that last one came after Barber had retired.  

    Still, when you're stuck wondering whether Barber's touchdown total would be outnumbered by his tabloid appearances, it's not difficult to understand why a Big Apple rendezvous will not be in the cards for Barber. 

Trading Big Blue for Big Ben?

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    Barber does have at least one team on his radar, however: the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

    Sports Illustrated's Peter King explains in detail why the match might be fruitful.  Of particular note, he mentions the Steelers' veteran makeup and Barber's relationship with head coach Mike Tomlin.

    But I think we all know why it would be a good idea for Barber to suit up in black and gold.  Yup, for the inevitable playoff game against the Jets. 

    Barber playing in New York, facing LaDainian Tomlinson—it'll be like the clock turned back to 2003. 

Battle of the Big Mouths

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    Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp, two guys not known for holding their opinions, recently shared their thoughts on the idea of Tiki Barber taking another crack at the NFL.

    They didn't think too highly of the notion. 

    Sapp chided Barber mostly for his locker room antics, which Strahan, of course, supported.  Strahan also added, however, that Barber has football chops and could be a productive on-field asset for any team. 

    Personally, I don't really get why neither of these guys, who retired a year after Barber, seem to recognize that five years have gone by since Tiki last took a snap.   Doesn't that make any difference?

Whatever Happens, You Probably Won't See Him on TV Again

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    Hey, at least he tried something new.

    But, as the consensus dictates, Tiki Barber's run on television was unsuccessful.  The criticism recently hit a peak when WFAN (660 AM) sports radio host Mike Francesa interviewed Barber and told him directly how bad of a job he did.

    Barber, understandably, defended himself, saying he isn't sure what he could have done differently to make for a better result.

    For many who agree with Francesa, Barber's return to the NFL will be welcome simply for the fact that he won't be an analyst anymore.  Perhaps that's the silver lining in all of this.