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Pewter Report’s Top 30 All-Time Greatest Bucs series wraps up on Sunday, July 11. Pewter Report reader Adam Atkinson asked me to come up with the Top 5 Bucs of all-time at each position. There’s no better time to do that list than now in the midst of ranking the 30 greatest Bucs, and these lists comprise this entire edition of SR’s Fab 5.
FAB 1. Top Bucs Skill Position Players
The Bucs have had an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions during their two Super Bowl championship seasons. It’s no wonder that the ensuing lists are filled with Super Bowl champs and record-breakers.
Top 5 Quarterbacks
The Bucs have drafted plenty of QBs in the first round, but it’s been a pair of old veterans that have produced Super Bowl championships. Take a look at the Top 5 in Tampa Bay.
1. Tom Brady – 2020-current – Super Bowl LV champion / MVP
Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history decided to play for Tampa Bay in free agency last year and wound up leading the Bucs to their second Super Bowl championship. With a team-record 43 touchdowns last year, Brady proved that he’s the best quarterback to ever play for Tampa Bay in just one year. Naturally, he’s the G.O.A.T. and he has two more years to build upon his Bucs legacy.
2. Brad Johnson – 2001-04 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Johnson brought steady leadership, toughness and accuracy to the Bucs in 2001 and helped win the team’s first Super Bowl the next season. For a franchise that has struggled to draft and develop quarterbacks, maybe signing older, veteran quarterbacks like Brady and Johnson, who was a Pro Bowler in 2002, is the way to go.
3. Doug Williams – 1978-82 – Bucs Ring of Honor member
Williams was the team’s first-round draft pick in 1978 and he did lead the Bucs to three playoff appearances, but had a 1-3 record in the postseason. Williams was athletic and had a strong arm. He was good enough to make the Bucs Ring of Honor, but just barely. He completed just 47.4 percent of his passes in five seasons in Tampa Bay.
4. Jameis Winston – 2015-19
Winston became the franchise’s all-time leading passer (19,737) in just five seasons, throwing the most touchdowns in team history (121) and passing for the most yards in a single season (5,109). The problem is that he threw 88 interceptions. Winston, the first overall pick in 2015, was a turnover machine and that prevented the Bucs from winning enough games to make the playoffs. Brady replaced Winston as Tampa Bay’s starter in 2020.
5. Trent Dilfer – 1994-99
Dilfer helped lead the Bucs to the playoffs in 1997 and ended a 13-year postseason drought. He made the Pro Bowl that season, becoming the first Tampa Bay quarterback to have that honor. Dilfer, a first-round pick in 1994, never lived up to his potential and his draft status and was replaced by Shaun King, a second-round pick in 1999.
Top 5 Running Backs
The Bucs began as a run-first team back in the 1970s and have had some great runners along the way. This handful of runners made scoring touchdowns and getting 100-yard games look easy.
1. James Wilder – 1981-89
At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Wilder was a tremendous weapon blessed with great speed and tackle-breaking ability. He was ahead of his time in that he could run the ball and catch it just as well. Wilder is still the Bucs’ all-time leading rushing 5,957 yards, and was the all-time receptions leader with 430 catches until Mike Evans topped that mark three years ago.
Bucs legendary FB Mike Alstott
2. Mike Alstott – 1996-2006 – Bucs Ring of Honor member – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
The A-Train was a scoring machine, setting the franchise record with 71 regular season touchdowns and 78 career TDs including the postseason. When the game was on the line, the ball was in Alstott’s hands and he was counted on to score crucial TDs and salt away wins by picking up hard-nosed first downs. Alstott, a six-time Pro Bowler, is the second leading rusher in Bucs history with 5,088 yards.
3. Warrick Dunn – 1997-2001, 2008
Dunn is the third-leading rusher in Bucs history with 4,986 yards. A first-round pick in 1997, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dunn played larger than life as a runner and receiver. He was one of the toughest players in Tampa Bay despite his size, and teamed with Alstott to form the Bucs’ WD-40 backfield in the 1990s, helping the team make the playoffs four years out of five.
4. Doug Martin – 2012-17
Martin, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2012, had two Pro Bowl seasons in which he ran for over 1,400 yards. One of those seasons was as a rookie when he scored 11 touchdowns. Martin struggled with off-field issues, including substance abuse that limited him to less than 500 yards in three other seasons in Tampa Bay. He totaled 4,633 yards and 26 rushing touchdowns in six years in red and pewter.
5. Errict Rhett – 1994-97
Rhett gets the nod over Ricky Bell and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams because he became just the second Bucs running back to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons (1994-95) after Wilder (1984-85). Rhett rushed for 18 touchdowns in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay before an ill-advised contract holdout in 1996 derailed his career. The Bucs drafted Dunn in the first round in 1997 to replace Rhett, and his NFL career ended three years later.
Top 5 Wide Receivers
Wide receiver has been a strength of the Bucs since the 1980s, and the unit is still going strong today. A bunch of record-breakers comprise the Top 5.
1. Mike Evans – 2014-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Evans is the best receiver in Bucs history and he’s on his way to becoming Tampa Bay’s best all-time weapon. Evans has 532 catches for 8,266 yards and 61 touchdowns in his first seven seasons – all team records. He also became the first player to post seven straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his NFL career. Evans is dominant and selfless. Those are two great qualities to have in any NFL receiver.
2. Mark Carrier – 1987-92
Carrier was a great route runner with great hands. More quick than fast, Carrier put up a Pro Bowl season in 1989 with 86 catches for 1,422 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished his Tampa Bay career second in Bucs history with 5,018 yards and 27 touchdowns on 321 catches (15.6 avg.).
Bucs WR Kevin House – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
3. Kevin House – 1980-1986
House was fast. He was Joey Galloway before the team had Joey Galloway. House became the first wide receiver in Tampa Bay with two 1,000-yard seasons. He finished his Bucs career with 286 catches for 4,928 yards, an impressive 17.2-yard average and 31 touchdowns. Decades later, House is still the Bucs’ third all-time leading receiver.
4. Joey Galloway – 2004-2008
Galloway was acquired in a trade for Keyshawn Johnson in 2004 and battled injuries in his first season in Tampa Bay. From there he went on to record a then-Bucs record three 1,000-yard seasons in a row, helping the team win the NFC South in 2005 and 2007. Galloway’s blazing speed allowed him to record 248 catches for 3,912 yards (15.8 avg.) and 28 touchdowns in his time in Tampa Bay.
5. Vincent Jackson – 2012-16
Jackson was a huge free agent hit for the Bucs in 2012. He became a Pro Bowler in 2012 and had three straight 1,000-yard seasons, becoming the second Buccaneer to do so. Jackson played a key role in mentoring Evans and finished his Tampa Bay career with 268 catches for 4,326 (16.1 avg.) and 20 touchdowns. He died an untimely death early this year at the age of 37.
Top 5 Tight Ends
The Bucs have had steady, but unspectacular play at the tight end position outside of a legend from the 1970s and 80s, and some new guy named Gronk. Take a glance at the Top 5 tight ends.
1. Jimmie Giles – 1978-86 – Bucs Ring of Honor member
Giles wasn’t big at 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, but he had speed to get down the seam and was a good blocker in the run game. He’s the best tight end in Bucs history, catching 279 passes for 4,300 yards (15.4 avg.) and 34 touchdowns. Giles’ 34 receiving TDs were a team record until Evans came along.
Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. Cameron Brate – 2014-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Brate, who has 29 touchdowns, is just five TDs away from breaking Giles’ career record for Bucs tight ends. Brate has been one of Tampa Bay’s best red zone weapons in team history. He has 223 catches for 2,438 yards (10.9 avg.) in his seven-year career.
3. Dave Moore – 1992-2001, 2004-06
Moore spent 13 years in Tampa Bay, which is longer than any Buccaneer tight end. He caught 184 passes for 1,805 yards (9.8 avg.) and 24 touchdowns during his Bucs career, including three straight seasons from 1997-1999 with at least four TDs. Moore finished his time in Tampa Bay as a long snapper and made the Pro Bowl in 2006.
4. Rob Gronkowski – 2020-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Gronkowski has spent just one season in Tampa Bay, but he’s already made his mark on the franchise. He led all Bucs tight ends with 45 catches for 623 yards (13.8 avg.) and seven touchdowns in 2020. More importantly, he caught two touchdowns in Super Bowl LV that helped the Bucs win their second championship. With another big season or two he might surpass Brate on this list.
5. Ron Hall – 1987-1993
Hall was a big, 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end that was a very good run blocker and a capable receiver. He was just passed by Brate on the all-time tight end receptions and receiving yards list. Hall caught 209 passes for 2,422 yards (11.6 avg.) and 10 TDs during his Tampa Bay tenure.
FAB 2. Top Bucs Offensive Linemen
The Bucs have had some good offensive linemen over the years, and several of the top ones helped the team win one of two Super Bowl championships in Tampa Bay.
Top 5 Offensive Tackles
Tampa Bay has had some quality offensive tackles, including a pair of Super Bowl champions and two long-time warriors that got snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Here are the top tackles in team history.
1. Paul Gruber – 1988-99 – Bucs Ring of Honor member
Gruber is regarded as the best offensive lineman in franchise history. A first-round pick in 1988, Gruber started all but nine games at left tackle over his illustrious 12-year career in Tampa Bay. Gruber was an iron man for the Bucs, making 183 starts, which is the most of any offensive player in team history. It’s a crime that he never made the Pro Bowl, but he did get inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor.
2. Donald Penn – 2007-2013
Penn was a rock for the Bucs, starting all seven years at left tackle in Tampa Bay. The outspoken Penn even saw time at tight end, catching two touchdown passes on trick plays. Penn, who started 108 games in Tampa Bay, was as steady as they come and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. The Bucs parted ways with him in 2014 and he went on to have two more Pro Bowl seasons in Oakland.
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
3. Donovan Smith – 2015-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Smith has started all but two games at left tackle since his rookie season. The former second-round draft pick has had some ups and downs in his Bucs career, but played tremendous football down the stretch when he helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl LV. Smith has started 94 games for the Bucs and just signed a multi-year extension. Will there be a Pro Bowl season in his future?
4. Demar Dotson – 2009-20
Dotson was the longest of long shots to make the team back in 2009. The 6-foot-9 giant was a former college basketball player with little football background who made the roster as a post-draft try-out lineman. He wound up starting at right tackle for nine seasons, logging 106 starts and playing in 130 games. Dotson never made the Pro Bowl, but had several years of great play in his prime.
5. Roman Oben – 2002-03 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Oben only played two seasons in Tampa Bay, but he provided the steady presence at left tackle when it mattered the most. Oben was signed at the age of 30 to replace Kenyatta Walker at left tackle in what ended up being the Bucs’ first Super Bowl season. He effectively handled Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas in the NFC Championship Game and played great for the Bucs for two seasons.
Top 5 Guards
The Bucs have only had a few elite guards over the years. Here are the Top 5 that made the list.
1. Davin Joseph – 2006-2013
Joseph was the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2006 and became an immediate starter as a rookie. He would go on to start 99 games in Tampa Bay before a serious knee injury in the 2012 preseason cost him his season and derailed his career. Joseph’s play was never the same after that. Joseph was a two-time Pro Bowler in Tampa Bay during the 2008 and 2011 seasons.
2. Ali Marpet – 2015-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Marpet is close to overtaking Joseph as the top guard in Tampa Bay history. He’s been a starter for the past six seasons and played at a high level in his 85 starts. Marpet is a Pro Bowl-caliber player who hasn’t gotten his just due from the NFL media. Perhaps his recent Super Bowl LV championship can garner him a Pro Bowl berth or two.
Former Bucs LG Logan Mankins – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
3. Logan Mankins – 2014-15
Mankins was one of Jason Licht’s best trades, as the Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler was a huge asset for Tampa Bay’s offensive line from 2014-15. Mankins played left guard and helped mentor Marpet. He was a Pro Bowler in his final season in 2015 at the age of 33 and provided great leadership in the twilight of his career.
4. Randall McDaniel – 2000-01
McDaniel came to the Bucs to reunite with former Vikings center Jeff Christy in Tampa Bay at the age of 36. McDaniel made the Pro Bowl in 2000 and even caught a touchdown pass on a trick play when he was lined up as a tight end in a goal line situation. Although he was at the end of his career the Hall of Famer played for two Bucs playoff teams.
5. Ian Beckles – 1990-96
Beckles was a seven-year starter in Tampa Bay, beginning in 1990 as a fifth-round rookie out of Indiana. The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman was stocky and powerful, helping block for a pair of different 1,000-yard rushers in Reggie Cobb and Errict Rhett and a host of different Bucs quarterbacks, including Dilfer.
Top 5 Centers
The Bucs have had some terrific centers through the years that have helped propel Tampa Bay to division championships and Super Bowl championships. This is pretty solid Top 5 for any team in the NFL.
1. Tony Mayberry – 1990-99
Mayberry was a three-time Pro Bowler and is the most decorated offensive lineman in Bucs history. A nine-year starter, the Wake Forest product started 145 games for Tampa Bay, which is right behind Gruber for the most starts by a Bucs offensive player in franchise history. Mayberry was a key factor in blocking for the Bucs’ WD-40 backfield and two Bucs playoff teams in 1997 and ’99. He deserves to be in the Bucs Ring of Honor.
Bucs C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. Ryan Jensen – 2018-current – Super Bowl LV champion
The hard-nosed Jensen was signed as the league’s top-paid center in free agency in 2018. After a rough first season in Tampa Bay, Jensen helped protect during Winston’s 5,000-yard passing season and during Brady’s 43-touchdown season. His blocking was instrumental in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV victory over Kansas City at Raymond James Stadium, and Jensen is considered to be among the best centers currently in the NFL.
3. Jeff Cristy – 2000-02 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
The undersized Christy was a big free agent signing in 2000. The former Vikings Pro Bowler helped the Bucs make the playoffs three times in a row and was the center during Tampa Bay’s first Super Bowl championship at age 31. The 6-foot-3, 284-pound Christy played three years for the Bucs before retiring at age 33, including a Pro Bowl season in 2000.
4. John Wade – 2003-07
Wade is one of the more underrated players in Bucs history. He was Tampa Bay’s center for five straight years, logging 72 starts. Wade was a big, 6-foot-5, 300-pound mauler, who helped the Bucs win the NFC South division in 2005 and in 2007.
5. Jeff Faine – 2008-11
The Bucs have had a few undersized centers in their history and found another one with the 6-foot-3, 291-pound Faine in 2008. Tampa Bay made Faine the highest-paid center in the league and snagged him from rival New Orleans. Faine played four years with the Bucs, including 51 starts – many at a Pro Bowl level although he never actually made the Pro Bowl.
FAB 3. Top Bucs Defensive Front 7
A stout Bucs defense has been a staple in all of the legendary years of the franchise, whether it’s 1979, 1997, 1999, 2002 or 2020. Several Bucs Ring of Honor members reside here – along with three of Tampa Bay’s Hall of Famers.
Top 5 Defensive Tackles
The Bucs have had several good defensive tackles over the years, but one elite one in the QB Killa. Here is a look at the Top 5 interior defensive linemen.
1. Warren Sapp – 1995-2003 – Hall of Famer – Bucs Ring of Honor – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Sapp is one of the best to ever suit up for the Buccaneers. An absolute legend and a cornerstone player who helped turn Tampa Bay from a laughing stock to a Super Bowl champion. Sapp, a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro, was ferocious on and off the field. His 77 sacks rank second behind Lee Roy Selmon (78.5) in team history, and he was the 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Sapp is a Hall of Famer and a Bucs Ring of Honor inductee.
Former Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. Gerald McCoy – 2010-18
McCoy was one of the best players on some really bad Bucs teams. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft never played in a playoff game despite nine years in Tampa Bay. McCoy was a good leader and was recognized as one of the game’s best pass-rushing defensive tackles. He logged 54.5 sacks, which ranks fourth in Bucs history, and was a six-time Pro Bowler from 2012-17 before being released prior to the 2018 season.
3. David Logan – 1979-86
Logan was the Bucs’ first playmaking defensive tackle. Lining up as an undersized nose tackle in Tampa Bay’s 3-4 defense at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, Logan is still the team’s fifth all-time leading sacker with 39 quarterback captures. Logan played on three Bucs playoff teams, and was a two-time second-team All-Pro.
4. Brad Culpepper – 1994-99
Culpepper was another undersized nose tackle who thrived in Tampa Bay. Playing alongside Sapp from 1995-99, Culpepper also got to the quarterback with all the attention paid to the QB Killa. The 6-foot-1, 275-pound Culpepper was smart, quick and tough, and recorded 33 sacks for the Bucs, including a team-high nine in 1998.
5. Santana Dotson – 1992-95
Dotson was a fifth-round pick in 1995 that had a sensational rookie season with 10 sacks, which still stands as a rookie record in Tampa Bay. He never had more than five sacks in any of his other years with the Bucs, but did rack up 23 QB captures and forced five fumbles. Dotson went on to a more successful career with Green Bay where he recorded 26 sacks in six years.
Top 5 Edge Rushers
Whether it was under Monte Kiffin or Todd Bowles, the Bucs defensive linemen can rush the passer. This Top 5 list is littered with Super Bowl champions.
1. Lee Roy Selmon – 1976-84 – Hall of Famer – Bucs Ring of Honor
Perhaps the best draft pick in Tampa Bay history, the Bucs used their first ever first-round selection on Selmon in 1976. He had 11 sacks in 14 games his second season and finished with a franchise-record 78.5. Selmon, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, also led the league’s No. 1 defense in 1979 and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Selmon became the Bucs’ first Hall of Famer in 1995 and became a Bucs Ring of Honor member, too.
2. Simeon Rice – 2001-06 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Rice was signed as a prized free agent in 2001 and helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl a year later. Rice, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Bucs, was one of the team’s most prolific pass rushers. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder finished his six years in Tampa Bay with 69.5 sacks, which ranks third in franchise history. Rice had a five-year run of double-digit sacks, which is still a Bucs record.
Bucs OLBs Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: USA Today
3. Shaquil Barrett – 2019-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Barrett is one of the best free agent signings of all time, recording a league-high 19.5 sacks in his first year in Tampa Bay. That broke Sapp’s single-season Bucs sack record and earned Barrett his first Pro Bowl. Barrett wasn’t as successful getting to the quarterback last year, but did notch four sacks in the postseason in helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul – 2018-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Trading for Pierre-Paul was one of Licht’s best deals. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder paid immediate dividends, recording 12.5 sacks in 2018. He led the Bucs with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last year, and even recorded two interceptions in a Pro Bowl season at age 31 en route to winning Super Bowl LV. Pierre-Paul has 30.5 sacks in his three seasons in Tampa Bay.
5. Chidi Ahanotu – 1993-2000, 2004
Ahanotu was a steady, physical defensive end. He was stout against the run and could also rush the passer. Ahanotu posted 34.5 career sacks, including a personal-best 10 in 1997 in helping the Bucs to their first playoff win in 13 years. That earned the 6-foot-2, 283-pound Ahanotu the franchise tag in 1998. Ahanotu was also a part of the Bucs’ playoff seasons in 1999 and 2000.
Top 5 Linebackers
The Bucs have gotten tremendous play from their linebackers since the inception of the franchise. There are several Tampa Bay legends in this Top 5.
1. Derrick Brooks – 1995-2008 – Hall of Famer – Bucs Ring of Honor – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Brooks is one of the Bucs’ all-time legends. He and Sapp helped turn the franchise around and win the team’s first Super Bowl in 2002. Brooks is the most decorated player in Tampa Bay history with a franchise-best 11 Pro Bowls and five first-team All-Pros. He was also selected the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and finished his 14-year career as the leading tackler (2,198) and second in starts (221). Brooks was inducted into the Hall of Fame and the Bucs Ring of Honor.
Former Bucs LBs Hardy Nickerson and Derrick Brooks – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
2. Hardy Nickerson – 1993-99
Nickerson was a tremendous free agent signing in 2013, setting the franchise single-season record with 214 tackles. He made the Pro Bowl that season and became a three-time Pro Bowler in Tampa Bay. Nickerson was instrumental in helping change the culture and was a tremendous mentor to Brooks, Sapp and John Lynch. Nickerson was a part of two Tampa Bay playoff teams in 1997 and ’99, and should be in the Bucs Ring of Honor.
3. Lavonte David – 2012-current – Super Bowl LV champion
When David’s career is done he’ll likely be No. 2 on this list, and he’ll finish in second place behind Brooks in tackles. David has 1,125 tackles and trails Ronde Barber (1,428) and Brooks (2,198). One of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL, David has only been to the Pro Bowl once and was named an All-Pro once. Yet David helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV and is guaranteed to be in the Bucs Ring of Honor.
4. Shelton Quarles – 1997-2006 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Quarles had a great 10-year career in Tampa Bay after being signed from the Canadian Football League in 1997. He finished his time as a Buccaneer as the fourth-leading tackler with 985 stops, but is now the fifth-leading tackler with David’s ascension. Quarles moved from strongside linebacker to middle linebacker in 2002 when he had his lone Pro Bowl season in helping the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII.
5. Broderick Thomas – 1989-93
Thomas’ time on this list will be brief, as Devin White will quickly replace him. But for now, Thomas, the team’s first-round pick in 1989, holds this spot. Thomas had a great season in 1991 with a team-high 11 sacks and an NFL-high seven forced fumbles. Thomas recorded 26.5 sacks in his five years as a Buccaneer, forced 11 fumbles, recovered eight, picked off two passes and a scored a touchdown.
FAB 4. Top Bucs Defensive Backs
Tampa Bay’s secondary helped key the Bucs’ first Super Bowl win in 2002 and played a part in its most recent Super Bowl victory, although none of those DBs are on this list – yet.
Top 5 Cornerbacks
The Bucs have had some stellar cornerback play over the year, and a pair of Super Bowl champions make the Top 5.
1. Ronde Barber – 1997-2012 – Bucs Ring of Honor – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Barber is one of the Top 5 Bucs of all-time, and finished his 16-year career as the team’s all-time leading interceptor with 47 interceptions. He’s also the only NFL player with at least 45 interceptions and 25 sacks (28). Barber was a five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro and has started the most games in Bucs history (232). Not only did he help win the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship, Barber also had the signature play in Tampa Bay history – a 92-yard pick-six at Philadelphia in the 2002 NFC Championship.
2. Donnie Abraham – 1996-2001
Perhaps the best cover corner in Bucs history, Abraham finished his career as the team’s leading interceptor with 31 in six years. His five-interception average per season is the best in franchise history. Abraham was a Pro Bowler in 2000 after recording seven INTs for the second straight season.
3. Mike Washington – 1976-84
The 6-foot-2, 197-pound defensive back was Tampa Bay’s first great cornerback. Washington helped the Bucs win the NFC Central division title in 1979, as well as two more playoff years. He finished his time in Tampa Bay with 28 interceptions, which was the second-most in franchise history behind Cedric Brown (29). Washington is now the fourth all-time interceptor in team history.
4. Brian Kelly – 1998-2007 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Kelly overcame a slow start to his career to have his best season in 2002, helping the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII. The USC graduate led the NFC in interceptions that year with a career-high eight in 2002. Kelly was one of the most physical cornerbacks in Bucs history and finished his career with 22 INTs, and made six playoff appearances.
5. Aqib Talib – 2008-12
Talib was the team’s first-round pick in 2008 and is one of the most athletic cornerbacks in franchise history. He wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay with his off-field behavior, but on the field Talib was a talented interceptor. He recorded 18 interceptions as a Buccaneer before being traded to New England in 2012.
Top 5 Safeties
Whether it’s skull-crackers or interceptors, the Bucs have had a handful of good safeties over their nearly five decades in existence. Here are the Top 5.
Former Bucs SS John Lynch – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
1. John Lynch – 1993-2003 – Hall of Famer – Bucs Ring of Honor – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
The second-best defensive back in Tampa Bay history behind Barber, Lynch was a great leader and the best Bucs safety. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Lynch was an enforcer over the middle in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense. Lynch was a five-time Pro Bowler with the Bucs and a two-time first-team All-Pro. He was the leader of the Bucs secondary during Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl championship run, and then became a Hall of Famer and Bucs Ring of Honor inductee.
2. Cedric Brown – 1976-84
Brown teamed with Washington and strong safety Mark Cotney to give the Bucs secondary star power in the late 1970s. Brown was a big-time play-maker at free safety, leading the team in interceptions with a career-high nine in 1981. Playing on three different Bucs playoff teams, Brown accumulated 29 interceptions and is the third-leading INT leader in Tampa Bay.
3. Mark Cotney – 1976-84
Cotney was the team’s first enforcer at strong safety, and played a big role in Tampa Bay winning the NFC Central division title in 1979. The hard-hitting Cotney played on three Bucs playoff teams and finished his eight-year career with 17 career interceptions.
4. Dexter Jackson – 1999-2002, 2004-05 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion/MVP
The athletic Jackson was a steady play-maker at free safety and had two stints in Tampa Bay. He was named the Super Bowl XXXVII MVP after recording two first half interceptions. Jackson signed a deal with Arizona in 2003 after winning the Super Bowl, but returned to the Bucs for two more years. He finished his Tampa Bay career with eight interceptions.
5. Dwight Smith – 2001-04 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Smith started his Bucs career as a play-making cornerback before moving to safety in 2004. Smith made Super Bowl history with a pair of pick-sixes and finished his Tampa Bay career with a dozen interceptions, including three at safety. This selection is a bit of a cheat, but Smith was a very good defensive back that deserves to be recognized.
FAB 5. Top 5 Bucs Specialists
Tampa Bay has had some fairly remarkable kickers and punters in the history of the franchise. Here’s a look at the Top 5.
Former Bucs K Martin Gramatica – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
1. K Martin Gramatica – 1999-2004 – Super Bowl XXXVII champion
Gramatica spent six years in Tampa Bay and finished as the team’s all-time leading scorer with 592 points. Gramatica was the kicker for the Bucs’ first Super Bowl season and made several clutch kicks that year, including accounting for all the points in a 15-0 win at Chicago and a 12-9 win against Carolina. The Kansas State product made the Pro Bowl in 2000.
2. K Ryan Succop – 2020-current – Super Bowl LV champion
Succop turned in one of the best seasons for any kicker in Tampa Bay last year, helping the team win Super Bowl LV in his first season with the Bucs. Succop connected on 90.3 percent of his field goals and 91.2 percent of his extra points. He also scored the most points in Tampa Bay in a single season with 136 points.
3. K Matt Bryant – 2005-08
Bryant had a short stay in Tampa Bay, but accomplished a lot. His 62-yard game winner against Philadelphia in 2006 still stands as the longest field goal in Bucs history. Bryant’s 131 points during the 2008 season were the most in franchise history until Succop broke that record last year.
4. P. Brian Anger – 2016-18
Anger came to the Buccaneers after the Jaguars have up on him and in his three seasons in Tampa Bay he set a number of team records including gross average (45.93), net average (42.7) and most punts inside the 20 in a season with 37. Anger also shares the team record with five punts inside the 20-yard line in a single game.
5. P Josh Bidwell – 2004-09
While maybe not possessing the biggest cannon for a leg, Bidwell was the most consistent punter in team history. During his time with the Buccaneers Bidwell averaged 44.0 yards per punt, and still leads the team in number of punts (419) and total yards (18,426) and was named to the Pro Bowl and made All-Pro in 2005.
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: email@example.com
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