PewterReport.com has periodically published its’ Top 25 All-Time Greatest Bucs list, updating the rankings due to recent inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, in addition to the emergence of star players on Tampa Bay’s current roster. The last time we published this list was the summer of 2014. Now, it’s time the PewterReport.com staff re-examined the careers of the most elite Tampa Bay players once again. We’ve re-ranked the list and expanded it to the Top 30 All-Time Greatest Bucs.

In this 10-part series, PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds analyzes each Bucs legend and offers up commentary on some of the best players in Tampa Bay history. Some of the rankings – and omissions – will likely cause some controversy among the Bucs fan base.

Let us know what you think. Bucs fans and PewterReport.com readers are encouraged to leave their opinions in the article comments section, on the Pewter Report message boards and on Pewter Report’s Twitter page, or Pewter Report’s Facebook page.

In Thursday’s installment, PewterReport.com introduces the All-Time Greatest Bucs ranked 10-12. Friday’s installment will feature the Bucs ranked 7-9. PewterReport.com’s series concludes on Sunday, July, 11 with the Top 3 All-Time Greatest Bucs.

• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 28-30
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 25-27
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 22-24
All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 19-21
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 16-18
• All-Time Greatest Bucs: No. 13-15

12. Bucs RB James Wilder – 1981-89
Previous No. 12: DT Gerald McCoy

Perhaps the most underrated and under-appreciated Buccaneer in team history, Wilder was one of the first complete running backs in the NFL. Blessed with the ability to run due to his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame and blazing speed, in addition to great hands in the passing game, Wilder is still the most talented running back in Bucs history.

A second-round pick in 1981, Wilder split carries in Tampa Bay with other Bucs before emerging as John McKay’s feature back in 1984. Wilder set an NFL record at the time with 407 carries, rushing for 1,544 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those single-season stats are still Bucs records nearly 40 years later. He also caught 85 passes for 685 yards that season and earned his lone Pro Bowl berth in 1984. His 2,229 total yards in 1984 is also a single-season franchise record.

Former Bucs RB James Wilder - Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Former Bucs RB James Wilder – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Wilder sill holds the record for most rushing yards in Tampa Bay history with 5,957 yards, and the most career 100-yard games with 14. He was also a deadly receiver out of the backfield, catching 430 passes for 3,492 yards (8.1 avg.) and nine touchdowns. Wilder’s 430 career receptions was a Bucs record until Mike Evans broke it in 2019. The fact that Wilder is not in the Bucs Ring of Honor at this point is a crime.

Reynolds’ Take: “McKay, who supposedly knew a lot about the running game after coaching O.J. Simpson and Ricky Bell at USC, finally came to his senses and realized Wilder was miscast as a fullback. After three years as a lead blocker, McKay moved Wilder to halfback. Wilder was more talented that Jerry Eckwood, Mel Carver and James Owens, yet split a fair amount of carries with those backs until finally handling the load in 1984. The Bucs would have won more games in those three previous seasons if Wilder had more carries.”

11. Bucs QB Tom Brady – 2020-current
Previous No. 11: TE Jimmie Giles

Is it crazy to put Brady just outside the Top 10 Bucs in team history after just one season in Tampa Bay? After what he accomplished in that one season, the answer is no. Having success is defined by accomplishments – winning and breaking team records along the way – not just how many years of service a player puts in. Brady’s 2020 season in red and pewter was one for the ages.

Not only did Brady become the best free agent acquisition in team history last season, he also helped guide the Bucs to an 11-5 record en route to winning Super Bowl LV. Brady out-dueled Patrick Mahomes at Raymond James Stadium to dethrone the defending Super Bowl champions and become the game’s MVP. Brady won his seventh Super Bowl title and his fifth Super Bowl MVP honors in the process.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

At age 43, Brady also broke the Bucs’ single-season touchdown record with 40 passing TDs and three rushing scores. And much to the delight of Bucs fans, Brady signed a contract extension through the 2023 season. If Brady has another spectacular season or two, he very well may end up as one of the Top 10 greatest Bucs of all-time – despite playing just three seasons in Tampa Bay.

Reynolds’ Take: “Brady’s play last year was remarkable, especially given the fact that he was learning a new offense for the first time in 20 years and didn’t have the benefit of an offseason or a preseason to really master it. That came during the regular season as Brady helped lead the Bucs back from a pair of 17-point deficits against Los Angeles and Atlanta.

How he was snubbed for the Pro Bowl last year for Arizona’s Kyler Murray is beyond tragic. Brady’s play is one thing, but the confidence he instilled into the Bucs and the heightened level of expectation he brought to Tampa Bay as a six-time Super Bowl champion is another. Brady’s leadership in 2020 was on another level. That leadership, as much as his right arm, is the reason why Tampa Bay won their final eight games, culminating in a Super Bowl LV championship.”

10. Bucs LB Lavonte David – 2012-current
Previous No. 10: RB James Wilder

It’s been quite the climb for David over the past four years, moving from No. 23 to No. 10 on the list of the 30 Greatest Bucs Of All-Time. David, who is entering his 10th season in Tampa Bay, has been climbing the Bucs’ record books. Now signed through 2023, the 31-year old David has started 137 games in Tampa Bay and is tied with fullback Mike Alstott for the fifth-most starts in team history. David should pass center Tony Mayberry (145) for fourth place this year. If he starts every game the next three seasons, David will surpass Paul Gruber (183) for third place in Tampa Bay history.

The play-making David, fresh off his first postseason with the Bucs and a Super Bowl LV title, should finish second in tackles behind Derrick Brooks (2,198). David is currently third on the list with 1,125 tackles, moving ahead of Hardy Nickerson (1,028) last year. Next up is surpassing cornerback Ronde Barber (1,428). David should pass Barber by 2023 if he stays healthy.

Bucs ILB Lavonte David

Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

David also has 24 career sacks, and needs just two more to move into 10th place ahead of Greg Spires (25). With five more over the next three years, David will move ahead of Barber (28) and into eighth place on Tampa Bay’s all-time sack list. David’s steady play over the last decade should put him in the Hall of Fame, as he’s been one of the best linebackers in the NFL. But he’s at least destined for Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor.

Reynolds’ Take: “David has been one of my favorite Bucs players to cover. A class act, a dynamic playmaker and a great leader, David is awfully close to the second coming of Derrick Brooks .

It’s a crime that David has only made one Pro Bowl and been voted to the All-Pro team just once. I’m thrilled David not only got to make the playoffs for the first time in 2020 – but also won a Super Bowl. The lack of Pro Bowls may rob him of a Hall of Fame induction, but David is a Hall of Fame-caliber linebacker, and one of the Top 10 Bucs of all-time.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Captain Sly
3 months ago

Just conveniently “Bumped” Winston off the list for Brady?

NC Greenbeard
Reply to  Captain Sly
3 months ago

Yup. As it should be.

WestChap
Reply to  Captain Sly
3 months ago

Winston hasn’t started for a year and he’s still the poster child for turnovers… willful blindness to have him on the list last time. He was a talented arm dragged down by a do do bird’s mind. Has always been an “incomplete” to date… we shall see if a year on the bench has done anything for him. Hope so but doubt it.

SufferingSince76
3 months ago

James Wilder should be in the Ring of Honor now. What are they waiting for?

toofamiliar17
3 months ago

This is low for David. The guy is the best or second best LB in the league for his generation. Naming 9 Bucs ahead of him is just nuts. And although I would have expected him to fall down the list, Winston going from middle of the list to off it completely is pretty silly, IMO. He was either improperly ranked the first time, or he’s being excessively knocked down this time. No one will like to hear this, but Doug Williams threw exactly as many TDs here (73) as he did INTs. He completed more than 50% of his… Read more »

NC Greenbeard
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

I can agree that Brady may be high at 11 but even after 1 year I think he belongs on the list. Not just his performance but the intangibles he brought that helped change the culture. I think Winston was too high on the list last time, though I wouldn’t complain too much if Winston replaced Doug Williams on the list. Wilder was a strong player for us but in that monster stat year of 84 it still only boils out to less than 3.8 YPC. He was a good back and I’d vote for him in the ROH but… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  NC Greenbeard
3 months ago

I agree many Bucs fans overrate him, for sure. But he was a face of our franchise for a stretch, and he gave his all for terrible teams. I have no doubt that had Wilder played for a team with a halfway decent supporting cast around him, his numbers would have been a ton better. He WAS a really good player, I have no doubt about that. I definitely agree that Jameis was too high last time. I guess I’m fine with Brady on the list, but borderline top 10 is crazy to me. We are a franchise without a… Read more »

BeeDubs26
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

I love Lavonte. Truly do. To me though, he’s maybe third best LB we’ve had here. Maybe. He’s certainly played longer than my personal #2 and #3, and he’s very consistent. I’ve been a fan and loving this team since 1976. That doesn’t make me more of an expert at all,it just means I have fond memories of some of the guys that laid the foundation of this team. I remember watching guys like Batman Wood roaming the field laying licks on people. I remember the way Hardy Nickerson changed the culture of this team. Not just the defense, but… Read more »

WestChap
Reply to  BeeDubs26
3 months ago

loved those guys too… and don’t forget Brantley. However, the game has changed so much and Lavonte is unique in the breadth of his talent across run and pass. He is the rightful heir to Brooks even with all the great LBs in Tampa’s history. He needs a PR department given how under stated he is. He got overlooked for Kwon who was loved by the TV cameras when posing over a guy he had missed and Lavonte tackled. Lavonte can play meathead thumper with the best ILBs but very few can do what he does

AlstottSmash
3 months ago

Brady at 12 seems so obvious! ;)

deeznuts
3 months ago

Lavonte will never get the respect he deserves. He’s been our franchise leader, but never the face of our franchise. How can you not root for a junior college guy that has come this far? He played JUCO on the same team as JPP!!! Everything he does goes unspoken. His first INT came at Peyton Manning’s expense….at that moment I knew he was going to be in a league of his own. Derrick Brooks never played MLB or played in 3-4 directly over top of a guard in the 3gap. Lavonte shut down Kelce in the Superbowl, and the catches… Read more »