Running back Peyton Barber played in one Iron Bowl for Auburn. Nine of his new teammates with the Washington Redskins were on the Alabama roster for that game — a 29-13 victory for the Crimson Tide over the Tigers in 2015.
“Oh man, I was thinking about that the other day,” Barber said about joining the NFL team with the most Alabama alumni. “I think it’ll be fun, especially when the Iron Bowl time rolls around.”
After spending his first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Barber is joining Washington as an unrestricted free agent for a two-year, $3 million contract that includes $600,000 in guaranteed money.
“It’s definitely a huge culture shock, but at the end of the day this is nothing new to me,” Barber said during an interview for the Redskins’ official website. “I’ve done this all my life, so change is good sometimes – you know? – so I’m ready and excited for what’s to come.”
Washington’s roster includes defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, outside linebacker Authentic Ryan Anderson Jersey, inside linebacker Authentic Reuben Foster Jersey, inside linebacker Authentic Shaun Dion Hamilton Jersey, tight end Hale Hentges, defensive lineman Daron Payne, center Ross Pierschbacher, wide receiver Authentic Cam Sims Jersey and safety Authentic Maurice Smith Jersey. They were on the opposite side of the field from Barber at the 2015 Iron Bowl. Redskins safety Authentic Landon Collins Jersey also is an Alabama alumnus, but he already had reached the NFL in 2015.
In 2019, Barber started the first seven games of the season before Ronald Jones took over as Tampa Bay’s No. 1 running back. Barber ran for 470 yards and six touchdowns on 154 carries and caught 16 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown last season.
Adrian Peterson led Washington with 898 yards and five touchdowns on 211 rushing attempts in 2019, when the Redskins’ 3-13 record was the worst in the NFC.
Washington expects to have running backs Derrius Guice, who played in five games in 2019, and Bryce Love, who missed the entire season, back from injury for 2020. The Redskins also brought former Central-Phenix City standout J.D. McKissic into their running-backs room via free agency.
Peterson will enter the 2020 season at 35 years old with 14,216 rushing yards, the fifth-most in NFL history.
“I’m excited,” Barber said about playing with Peterson. “I’ve never gotten the chance to really meet him in person. Every time we’ve played them, I’ve kind of been a little star-struck and gotten kind of nervous to go up and talk to him, so I’m excited to learn from him, pick his brain.”
Despite being held to 29 yards on eight carries in the 2015 Iron Bowl, Barber ran for 1,047 yards and 13 touchdowns for Auburn that season. But Barber left the Tigers with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
He entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie and was cut by the Buccaneers at the end of his first preseason. Tampa Bay re-signed Barber for its practice squad, and before the first game of the season, he’d been promoted to the active roster.
Barber stayed there throughout 2016, even getting a starting assignment because of injuries. Barber had 55 rushing attempts for 223 yards and one touchdown – a 44-yard run on his 10th NFL carry. He also caught five passes for 28 yards in 2016.
In his second NFL season, Barber got the chance to play down the stretch for the Buccaneers and produced 335 yards and one touchdown on 78 carries and 83 yards on 12 receptions in the final five games of 2017. He’d played 69 snaps and carried the ball 28 times in the first 11 games of the season. In Game 12, he ran for 102 yards on 23 carries for his first 100-yard game in the NFL and caught four passes for 41 yards against the Green Bay Packers.
In his third NFL season, Barber served as the Buccaneers’ No. 1 running back. He started every game and ran for 871 yards (10th in the NFC) and five touchdowns on 234 carries in 2018. He also caught 20 passes for 92 yards and one TD.
When Barber came out of the lineup for Jones in 2019, it ended a streak of 26 consecutive starts in the Tampa Bay backfield.
“I just feel like with Tampa, not to say anything bad or anything against them because I loved my time while I was here, but I wasn’t utilized enough,” Barber said. “Like I said, I’m looking forward to what’s to come. I feel like I’m an every-down back. I can catch the ball, I can block, I can run. Anything you need me to do, I can pretty much do, and I’m durable.”
Normally, Barber would be preparing to open Washington’s offseason program on April 6. But that portion of the NFL’s calendar is on hold during the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s been pretty hard to find fields to train at, but we’re making due with what we got,” Barber said of his preparations for the 2020 season. “… I’m still down here in Tampa, so I’m really just going out, finding parks that we can train at and really just keeping my body in shape and keep my head space right.”