In Bucs Throwback Thursday, I take a stroll down memory lane and offer up my own personal insight and anecdotes on days gone by in Tampa Bay football history. Let me know what you think of the Bucs Throwback Thursday column in the article comments.
Before offering up a new Bucs Throwback Thursday, I pay my respects to the late, great former sports editor of The Tampa Tribune, Tom McEwen, who often started his column “Breakfast Bonus” describing a large southern-style breakfast in detail before turning the column back to sports.
Over your breakfast of mullet from the waters of Cortez, Florida, smoked by the Gullett family with a recipe of spices handed down from Mr. Ben Gullett, three scrambled cage-free brown eggs, two large cathead biscuits with homemade guava jelly made by my aunt Lucille Jacobs, and washed down with cup of coffee cooked in a percolator on the stove , here is this week’s Throwback Thursday section.
NFL free agency arrives next week and it’s like an adult version of Christmas for football fans across the country.
Like the holiday, the anticipation starts a month or so prior to the actual March 18 date, and builds until Free Agency Eve when fans can hardly sleep the night before.
What will be under the free agency tree?
Will the presents resemble a pack of socks and Fruit of the Loom tighty whiteys that our Grandmas used to give us?
Or will it be the brand new Atari 2600 with Defender, Pitfall and Missile Command included?
Sometimes the presents are a hit. Sometimes you want to give them back. But make no mistake, free agency is rivaled only by the NFL Draft in terms of what fans dream of most during the long and sometimes frustrating NFL offseason.
Mark and Julia Cook – Photo by: Larry Cook
The Bucs have had more than their fair share of Underoos and pet rocks. They also had a few Evel Knievel Stunt Cycles under the proverbial free agency tree.
So let’s take a look at the Top 5 worst free agent signings in Bucs history. It’s all somewhat subjective, but since it’s my column, I get to choose.
Top Five Worst Free Agents In Bucs History
Table of Contents
5. CB Eric Wright
Wright, not to be confused with former NWA member “Easy-E” Eric Wright, had about as much of an impact as the late rapper would have had if he had played cornerback for the Bucs.
CB Eric Wright – Photo by: Getty Images
Wright was signed in 2013 to a five-year, $37.5 million contract and proceeded to last one season in Tampa Bay. For their money the Bucs got a whopping 37 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception. Hey, at least it was a pick-6 (no, Jameis Winston didn’t throw it).
The Bucs managed to actually trade Wright the following year to the 49ers, but Wright failed his physical and was promptly returned to Tampa Bay where he was released. Less than a month later, Wright ended up signing with the 49ers as a free agent but never played a down for San Francisco.
Derrick Ward – Photo by: Getty Images
4. RB Derrick Ward
Ward once complained to the Bucs equipment trainer about how he didn’t get as many pairs of socks as he did when he was with the Giants. True story. Well, according to Scott Reynolds.
Ward arrived in Tampa Bay in 2009 after signing a four-year, $17 million deal as a free agent, following a 2008 year in which he ran for 1,025 yards for New York and teamed up with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to form a trio of backs known to Giants fans as Earth Wind and Fire. The only problem was that Ward then proceeded to skip OTAs and enjoy his signing bonus, so he was behind his teammates when it came to learning the new offense.
Unfortunately after arriving in Tampa Bay, Ward just became fire – as in dumpster fire. Ward was released one year later following a dismal 409 rushing yards and one touchdown season.
Former Bucs DT Chris Baker – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
3. DT Chris Baker
Oh yes, Chris “Swaggy” Baker. More like Chris “Faker” Baker. Tampa Bay took a gamble, and boy did this one not produce the desired results. From humping a palm tree on Hard Knocks to jumping offsides in a critical late season game that cost the Buccaneers a good shot at a win, Baker was disaster.
Tampa Bay knew his penchant for laziness and an aloof attitude before signing him, but hoped veterans like Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David could corral the nonsense. Welp.
After swindling the Bucs to sign him to a three-year, $15.75 million, with $9 million guaranteed, “Swaggy” went on to produce just 33 tackles and half of a sack and was promptly released a month after the season ended. Bad player, bad locker room guy. Bad signing.
2. WR Alvin Harper
As a Bucs fan back in the day, I think this was my favorite free agent signing as far as my expectations went. I mean Harper was Robin to Michael Irvin’s Batman in Dallas. He was Starsky to Hutch. Or so I believed when it was announced the Buccaneers had signed the former Cowboys star.
Alvin Harper – Photo by: Getty Images
Unfortunately in Tampa Bay, Harper ended up being more Gilligan to the Skipper than anything else.
Harper played just two seasons and was hampered by injuries and inconsistency. After two seasons and just 25 games where he caught 65 passes for 922 yards and only three touchdowns Harper was cut.
But not before having part of his finger cut off when a team doctor was removing some tape. Ahh, it’s always been a Bucs life.
1. OT Anthony Collins
There aren’t any wanted poster in Tampa area post offices, but maybe there should be. Collins took the organization and the Glazers for a lot of money in his line season in Tampa Bay – Bonnie and Clyde style.
Former Bucs LT Anthony Collins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It wasn’t just the fact the Buccaneers wasted a lot of money and Collins was awful, but even more painful was the decision to replace long-time Bucs starter Donald Penn.
Oh, by the way, Penn was still in the NFL as of last year.
Does anyone even know where Collins is these days? Most likely sitting on his private island he bought with his $15 million guaranteed portion of his five-year $30 million contract he signed.
“I’ll take that in small, untraceable bills, please.”
So who did I miss Bucs fans? There are plenty more that could have been on the list but these are my personal Top 5 worst Bucs free agent signing.
And let’s hope that general manager Jason Licht doesn’t add to this list with new bad guys next week.
Former Channel 28 sports anchor Drew Soicher was never a fan of Bucs wide receiver Alvin Harper and here is a montage of Soicher absolutely roasting Harper on his sportscasts. This is hilarious!
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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