The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' secondary lost their leader this offseason. After 16 seasons, Barber, the last link to the Buccaneers' Super Bowl title, hung up his cleats.
The leadership role Barber played on this team while wearing pewter and red was more valuable than anything he could have done for the team.
The Bucs are hoping players who learned from him will step up this season.
To combat the loss of such an integral part of the organization, the Bucs traded the 13th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft for Darrelle Revis.
And while he was making headlines by coming to Florida, the team still had their 2012 first round pick Mark Barron on the roster, ready to improve on a rookie campaign that showed promise, but did not reach the level the coaching staff knows he can reach.
Barron, an All-American from Alabama (where else?) had 88 tackles on the season and one interception. Expect 2013 to be a season where we see more of Barron in action and making plays similar to his predecessor, Barber.
Barron and Revis could help the Bucs have one of the more surprising secondaries in the league this season. Former 49ers defensive back Dashon Goldson will also lend a hand to the Bucs' secondary.
All three will be counted on because the Buccaneers gave up 4,758 passing yards - an average of 297.4 per game. That is not a good sign for any defense trying to make the playoffs.
Barron was known for his hard-hitting style and coverage skills, a Rod Woodson type of player. Now, the Bucs have depth and experience and a player eager to make his mark. The Bucs hope the veterans will help Barron solidify himself as one of the best in the conference and the NFL.
If so, he could join Revis and Goldson in the Pro Bowl. And if that happens, the playoffs may be a legitimate goal for this franchise.
An improved back line means an improved defense. And an improved defense means an improved Barron.