The Reggie Bush to the Steelers rumors were back in motion last week and thanks to Peter King this morning, so are the rumors about retired Giants running back Tiki Barber landing in Pittsburgh. King claims that because head coach Mike Tomlin is close to twin Ronde Barber after coaching him in Tampa from 2001 to 2005, that Tomlin would not be afraid to take a chance on Tiki. King says Tiki would “fit right in” as he put it.
I have made my feelings known about a Tiki landing with the Steelers the first time the rumor surfaced and I still stand by opinion that he is not a fit in Pittsburgh. The Steelers certainly could be in need of a 3rd down/change of pace type back depending on what happens with unrestricted free agent Mewelde Moore, but Barber is just not the fit in Pittsburgh that King thinks he is.
Barber has not been shy about cracking his former Giants teammates over the head following his retirement and according to Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, Barber is not a good teammate. Do the Steelers really want that type of personality in the lockerroom? I would guess not.
Let\’s point out the other obvious Barber drawback as well. He has not played in 4 seasons. Making a comeback at 36 years old only has down side written on it in my opinion. Will he still be willing to stick his head down and pick up a blitzing linebacker or will be just be a one dimensional pass catching running back?
As the lockout drags on, the time the Steelers have to prepare for the season gets shorter as well. Even if Barber were signed to a one year veteran minimum of around 1 million, the Steelers do not have a lot of time to kick his tires to see what tread is left on them. By bringing him in that late, they certainly will be taking away key reps from the other young backs on the roster as well, most notably those of Isaac Redman, 7th round draft pick Baron Batch and second year running back Jonathan Dwyer. In addition there likely will be an undrafted 3rd down type back signed to compete whenever the lockout is over. With no mini camps or OTA sessions being held prior to training camp, they would have to be pretty sure that Barber is the guy once they sign him.
Tomlin and the Steelers are not into doing favors and that is exactly what a signing of Barber would be. I would be more apt to see them re-sign Moore, who was adequate in the 3rd role last season and hope that Batch can win the job out right when and if training camp gets underway. Depending on how the new free agency eligibility rules play out with the new CBA, there also will likely be a few other younger, less expensive type role playing running backs available when free agency begins that the Steelers can consider signing that do not come with the risk and headaches that Barber likely would bring to Pittsburgh. If I am the Steelers, I say thanks, but no thanks to Tiki. Twin brother Ronde will just have to get over it.