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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.

Sue me.

Top Five Worst Free Agents In Bucs History

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

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

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

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

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.


VIDEO THROWBACK

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!

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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BucRy
1 year ago

Alterraun Verner Came to mind immediately for me.

BucRy
1 year ago

How could we forget Michael Johnson too.

tvalinth
1 year ago

Eric Rhett!

TysonsFury
1 year ago

Classic! Miss ol’ Tom. One of the best.

Buc76
1 year ago

The Alvin Harper stuff is good. What about Hurt Emmanuel? Some Rich Mckay doozies. Typical Bucs lore. The next one is going to be all the egg on our face with the Tom Brady thanks but no thanks followed by more debacles and a screwed up quarterback situation next year. Stay tuned.

BigSombrero
1 year ago

Bill Parcells? Jilting the Bucs at the altar, then going on to win elsewhere feels like a bigger embarrassment.

I might have had Alvin Harper as #1 with a bullet. Collins and Baker were bad pickups, but largely forgettable. Alvin Harper was a Dallas Cowboy that won championships, then came to Tampa and did absolutely nothing.

e
e
1 year ago

Kyle Brindza is one that comes to mind? Didn’t he miss three FGs playing the Cheatriots? That would have been a great win. How about the “Fish that got away?,” Mark? Young, Williams, Bennett…

3rd String Kicker
1 year ago

Posted on the forums also: I think Michael Johnson, Todd Steussie (Sp?), Mike Nugent, JR Sweazy and Charlie Garner could get dishonorable mentions. I don’t hate Alvin as much these days, his saving grace for me was that he was a beast on Tecmo Super Bowl.

BUC-ASS-BOB
1 year ago

Big Bruce Arians news is out and no article coving it.
Get on it Pewter

The Wall
1 year ago

I wonder if there are any learning events with these?

The Wall
1 year ago

Sorry, I posted before I finished. One learning event; if we’re going to spend a lot of money on a free agent, we better make sure he’s a “sure thing” as much as possible. That certainly wasn’t the case with Ward or Baker.

BUC-ASS-BOB
1 year ago

Per CBS A day after ESPN reported the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are willing to give impending free agent Tom Brady essentially “whatever he wants” if he comes to Florida, signs continue to point to Bruce Arians and Co. The New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is The Bucs No. 1 target of the offseason. The Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud reported Wednesday, a week before the official start of 2020 free agency, that the Bucs “are going all-in on Tom Brady.” Bucs “are going all-in on Tom Brady. Bucs “are going all-in on Tom Brady. Bucs “are going all-in on… Read more »

wish-in-one-hand
1 year ago

Me-shawn Jackson would be one, Darrel Revis because we paid the guy some good coin wasn’t even fully healed and asked him to play zone lol, JR sweezy $12 million to ride the pine i believe, ya back problems i know and the second year was EH and out of shape then we cut bait after paying way to much for his services, he went back to Seattle and played pretty decent for them.

MikeJ813
1 year ago

Some interesting free agents have been released recently: Dolphins S Reshad Jones after an injured season( 2x pro bowler) 32 yr old Texans CB Johnathan Joseph 35 yr old Packers Jimmy Graham (IDK about signing him but packers looking to pursue Austin Hooper, if they fail may have an opportunity at trading OJ Howard) the free agency dominoes beginning to fall!! Was also reading on CBS Brady wants 2 things from teams trying to sign him: A say in the signing of other free agents to the team and a say in play calling decision making. Interesting for 1 particular… Read more »

geno711
1 year ago

How about 2004 and the essential end of the Jon Gruden era. Did not extend Lynch or Sapp and his free agent choices that year included:
Charlie Garner
Tim Brown
Derrick Desse
Matt Stinchcomb
Greg Comella

NC Greenbeard
1 year ago

Didn’t we trade for Revis? I feel I remember giving up a Rd1 for him. Agree it was a waste though. Think the other posters got most of the worst decisions. I remember Harper coming over and being so stoked, then so disappointed.

NC Greenbeard
1 year ago

Geno… all names I wish you hadn’t made me remember! And Ian Gold

geno711
1 year ago

I was trying to determine what Garner’s contract was. It was pretty high for back in the day but I could not find the specifics.

I only found one reputable source on his contract but it did not have all the details just some at the time he was cut a year later – linked here:

https://www.pewterreport.com/bucs-announce-roster-cuts-2/

RudeGuy
1 year ago

The Bucs got like 3 games out of Charlie Garner. He was signed for 6 years. If I recall correctly it was between signing him or Duce Staley. And for the record Duce bombed after signing with the Steelers.

Boca James (Boca Raton Florida)
1 year ago

Eric Rhett was a solid player and a tough runner. How are you putting a drafted player on this list. Plus he was a Gator :)

twspin
1 year ago

You got some good ones here Mark. I still laugh when I think of, Easy Money Sweezy. He makes me think of that Dire Straits song..Got his Money for nothin and his chicks for free! And who can ever forget the infamous tree humper..Chris Baker…what a waste.

NC Greenbeard
1 year ago

Geno, according to ESPN it was a 6-year $20M contract for Garner with $4M signing bonus

thewbacca
1 year ago

Kellen Winslow Jr

thewbacca
Reply to  thewbacca
1 year ago

Maybe he doesn’t fit the free-agent criteria; but Tampa did waste a 2nd rounder and way overpaid him. You know it’s bad when the Browns get the way better part of the deal.

fredster
1 year ago

Collins was complete garbage. We actually had good O line when stupid ass Lovie came here. Michael Johnson and Luke McClown also were horrible Lovie free agents.

revfish
1 year ago

Dexter Manley and Albert hayneswirth

scubog
1 year ago

Oh my goodness there have been a lot of these high paid playas that did little more than garner an early headline both coming and going. Often encouraged, but rarely rewarded. Thus I have learned to “Curb My Enthusiasm” until I see what they actually contribute to the team. I always wondered what line of BS and what kind of act guys like Swaggy Baker were able to put on display at least until the check cleared. One has to wonder, “who believed that crap?” Oh yeah, the highly paid GM’s and coaches who stood at the podium.

revfish
1 year ago

I believe Dexter Manley blamed Floyd Peters for him going back to drugs because of hard practices, if memory serves 😳

cheveliar
1 year ago

From McEwen to the turnstile known as Anthony Collins awe walk back on a Throwback Thursday! You know I’m all the way Orange. So that was right on time brother!

Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

It’s odd to put Eric Wright in here as he stupidly voided his contract during his first year of that said contract. Wright only earned $6 mil from the Bucs. Fortunately, GM Dominik did put in that clause that voided Wright’s contract should Wright do something stupid. (Also, wasn’t Wright signed in 2012?) But you know you did terrible in their first year with the Bucs and was paid handsomely? C Ryan Jensen. He was paid $11, the highest paid center in 2018, in his first year. He was abysmal!!! The only reason Jensen remained was because he was guaranteed… Read more »

YborCity49
1 year ago

Tom McEwen was a great writer. He loved the Gators, Bucs and all Tampa teams.
His breakfast descriptions were epic. I truly miss that era.
True, the Bucs have their fair share of busts, maybe too much, but after 0-26, they did win the NFC “ Central”, went on to Championship game ( lost to Rams), but still had Tampa buzzing for a while!
Love this column.
Go Bucs!

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