Have you ever wondered what the greatest teams of all time would look like? Well look no further because throughout the offseason we will be going team by team, assembling the greatest teams of all time! It’s time to fire the cannons because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are up next on our list! The Buccaneers are like a good rollercoaster, tons of ups and downs and never knowing what will come next. Currently the Buccaneers are regarded as the worst team in the NFC South, but there was a time when they were on top and many of the players on this list come from that era. Hopefully new head coach Bruce Arians will be able to bring Buccaneers fans the type of success they have been yearning for! Let’s get into it!
Quarterbacks: A true work in progress is what you would call the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback list! New head coach, Bruce Arians, should help Jameis Winston find success again like his college days. At the top of this list though we must talk about Brad Johnson. Johnson was the quarterback for the Super Bowl team back in 2002, joining the Buccaneers in 2001 to reunite with Tony Dungy. Winston absolutely has the skill set to become the great Buccaneers quarterback of all time, hiring Arians was the first move in going that direction. Someone that equally must be included on this list despite many losing seasons is Vinny Testaverde.
Running Backs: A position that even nowadays the Buccaneers are having trouble with is running back. James Wilder is regarded as the top running back in Buccaneers franchise history. Close to 6,000 career rushing yards with the Buccaneers, two of the top four single-season rushing marks in franchise history, and a Pro Bowl selection in 1984. Another running back that fans of the Buccaneers loved was Warrick Dunn. Dunn is one of a select few running backs to have rushed for 10,000-plus yards and record 500-plus receptions in his career.
Wide Receivers: I’m sure you didn’t think this would turn into a “why you should draft Mike Evans” article, but it somehow has! Of course, Evans hasn’t been on the team for as long as some would like to be considered one of the greats, but his body of work speaks volumes. Posting four-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons is something nobody else in Tampa Bay history has accomplished. Evans will certainly continue this type of production for years to come no matter who the quarterback is. The wide receivers that follow Evans are Mark Carrier who was the former leader in receiving yards for the Buccaneers and Kevin House who was formerly second all time.
Offensive Line: When you hear “Tampa Bay Buccaneers” your first thoughts are probably all about the defense, but there are some great offensive lineman that anchored the team for many seasons. Our first standout is Paul Gruber who played 12 seasons with the Buccaneers. Gruber played in 183 games. That is a mark of 183 out of a total 192 total games. The consistency doesn’t stop with Tony Mayberry who played in 10 seasons with the Buccaneers and started every single game in his career. Last but not least we have got to highlight Donald Penn who started his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Penn held down the left tackle position loyally without missing a game. Penn is not one of the flashiest players, but also got the job done for the Buccaneers even when the games weren’t going in their favor.
Defensive Line: In this group we have the Buccaneers first ever draft pick, Lee Roy Selmon. His career was cut short due to a back injury, but in his nine seasons with the Buccaneers his impact was felt. Selmon recorded a total 78.5 sacks, and added in 28.5 forced fumbles. Another larger than life player on the defensive line is Warren Sapp, who also spent nine seasons with the Buccaneers. From 1997 until 2003, Sapp made the Pro Bowl every season, including six various seasons earning All-Pro honors. Additionally, Sapp won the defensive player of the year award in 1999. Lastly, we must mention Simeon Rice who was acquired from the Arizona Cardinals. Rice tallied 67.5 sacks in five seasons with the Buccaneers and three Pro Bowls selections.
Linebackers: Derrick Brooks headlines this group and the entire franchise overall. Brooks spent his entire 14-season NFL career with the Buccaneers, setting numerous franchise records in the process. The two biggest records being his 1,200 total tackles and 24 forced fumbles. In 2002, Brooks recorded his best season winning Defensive Player of the Year, being honored as an All-Pro and winning his first Super Bowl. Another big piece in revitalizing the Buccaneers on defense was Hardy Nickerson. Nickerson joined team in 1993 and immediately started every single game. Nickerson amassed 5 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro’s with the Buccaneers.
Secondary: At the top of the rankings for this group you’ve got to include Ronde Barber who arguably helped bring the Buccaneers to the playoffs seven times in 11 years. Barber is the interception leader in Tampa Bay history by a large margin, recording 47 interceptions in 16 seasons, 8 of them returned for a touchdown. Another huge piece of the Buccaneers success in the early 2000’s was John Lynch. Lynch was one of the smartest NFL players and for the safety position that is crucial, this intelligence is even shown now as he is the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Throughout his career, Lynch went to 9 Pro Bowls, honored with 3 All-Pro’s and won a Super Bowl in 2002.