NFL

Bucs, Barron agree to 4-year deal

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mark Barron
Mark Barron is expected to be a starter at safety as a rookie.
Sports Xchange Len Pasquarelli
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Safety Mark Barron, the seventh overall choice in this year’s draft, has agreed to a four-year, $14.65 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Sports Xchange has confirmed through team sources and a source close to the player.

The deal for the former Alabama standout, who is expected to be a starter as a rookie, is fully guaranteed. It includes a signing bonus of $8,961,092 and base salaries of $390,000 (2012), $1.047 million (2013), $1.705 million (2014) and $2.362 million (2015). Notably, the contract does not include so-called “offset language,” which would provide the Bucs salary and salary-cap relief in the event that Barron was released during the contract and signed by another NFL team.

Earlier in the day, The Sports Xchange confirmed local reports that Barron and the Bucs were close to a deal. The major hang-up to the deal, for which total value had all but been determined, was the payout schedule for the signing bonus.

The Bucs have spent a considerable amount this year in free agency — principally for wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright — and apparently were attempting to stretch out the bonus payments. It is not yet known how that issue was resolved.

The top-rated safety on virtually every draft board in April, Barron compiled 149 tackles, 12 interceptions and 34 passes defensed for the Crimson Tide. Barron is regarded as a typical Nick Saban-coached defender, very smart and with excellent football instincts. Despite his solid numbers, some scouts felt he was better playing close to the line of scrimmage than in coverage.

BLAST OFF

Demaryius Thomas is just one player ready for a breakout season in 2012.

For that reason, he could line up at strong safety for the Bucs, who are expected to switch former cornerback Ronde Barber to free safety.

The deal for Barron leaves 10 first-round choices without contracts.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano confirmed reports that Barron and defensive tackle Brian Price brawled in a team meeting room during offseason workouts in June.

“What happens inside our meetings and that stuff, I like to keep amongst the team,” Schiano said. “Somehow it got out. I’m not thrilled about that, but I’d rather keep that inside.”

Price and Barron haven’t crossed paths since the fight, which Schiano confirmed for the first time Thursday. When Price and the veterans report to training camp July 27, Schiano expects most of his roster to be healthy and happy.

“We all make mistakes,” Schiano said. “Be men about it and let’s go. . . . We have to put our own personal preferences and whatever disagreements we have aside to what’s best for the club.”

Tagged: Buccaneers, Brian Price, Mark Barron

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