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Best Buccaneers of All Time

What if the Buccaneers hadn't traded up to land Derrick Brooks? - Bucs Nation

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in existence since 1976. And before 1997, there wasn’t much to cheer about. 3 playoff appearances in 20 years, 2 division titles, and one playoff win. Since then, 2 Super Bowls and several playoff berths. 

Along the way, there were some great Buccaneer legends to grace the team. 

When ranking the best of all time, I look for how long they played in Tampa Bay.  How many All-Pros did they get during their time in Tampa Bay? I lent a lot of weight to whether or not they spent their entire career with the team. Unless the impact is incredible, the player has to be recognizable as a Buccaneer first.

A lot of the players on this list are from the 2002 Super Bowl Champion team, specifically on the defense. In “defense” (pun intended) of that decision, Tampa’s defense that year was probably one of the 3 or 4 best defenses of all time.

  1. Derrick Brooks: a close call between Brooks and Barber, but Brooks gets the nudge here. Derrick was a stellar linebacker in Tampa Bay for 14 seasons, starting 221 games, making five All-Pro lists and over 1,.700 tackles. Brooks was a stallworth at linebacker his entire time with the team, with little to no drop off as he came down to the twilight of his career.
  2. Ronde Barber: in strong consideration for being the best Bucs legend of all time, he finishes second in my rankings. The deciding factor was that Brooks made 5 All-Pros and Barber had 3. Nonetheless, it is remarkable that such a great player stayed with one team for 16 seasons. Another great player from that Super Bowl winning defense back in early 2000. Barber had 1,251 tackles, 28 sacks (a lot for a corner in his career) and 47 interceptions. 
  3. Warren Sapp: had Warren stayed in Tampa for his entire career, I probably would have bumped him to 1 or 2. Sapp had a great career with the Buccaneers and Raiders. During his 9 seasons in Tampa Bay, Sapp started 130 games, recorded 77 sacks, and made 4 All-Pros. He will always be remembered for some of his controversies on the field, but we shouldn’t forget how dominant he was in the middle. 
  4. Mike Alstott: I know what you’re saying…how can a fullback be 4th on this list? Well Mike Alstott was a very special player for Tampa Bay. Playing with the Buccaneers for 11 seasons, Alstott made 3 All Pros and (for a FB) had over 5,000 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns. For a fullback! Plus he epitomized the team for his 11 seasons with his blocking and tough, hard-nose running. 
  5. Lee Roy Selmon: the first overall draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their inaugural season back in 1976. Selmon played all 9 of his NFL seasons with the Buccaneers. He was truly their first great player of the franchise and the only Hall of Fame inductee until 2013 (Warren Sapp). He started 117 games and recorded an impressive 78.5 sacks and made one All Pro team. Selmon unfortunately passed away in 2011. 
  6. Lavonte David: another Tampa-lifer up until this point, David has been a staple of this defense for the past 11 seasons. David started every game he played for the team, recording over 1,300 tackles, 29 sacks, and 12 INTs. For his first 8 seasons, the team wasn’t a playoff contender but he stayed loyal to the team. Finally he got his Super Bowl ring in Year 9. At this point, I would be surprised if David is back with the team in 2023, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out. 
  7. John Lynch: it’s funny that Lynch is better known these days as being the GM of the San Francisco 49ers. However, people forget how great of a Strong Safety he was. Known as a hard hitter, receivers were afraid to go over the middle on him. In total, Lynch played 11 seasons with Tampa Bay and during that time made 2 All Pros. He was one of the leaders of that vaunted Super Bowl Defense. 
  8. Hardy Nickerson: Hardy is one of the defensive players for Tampa that gets lost in the mix. Unfortunately he wasn’t on the team when they won the Super Bowl, but he had an impact in developing the culture of that team. When he was with the team from 1993-99, they were awful. But by the time he left in free agency, they were becoming a dominant defense. Overall, Nickerson played and started in 104 games, recorded 926 tackles and 2 All Pros. 
  9. Tom Brady: Brady was with the Buccaneers for only 3 years, but he made a lasting impact on the franchise. He brought relevance to the team for the first time in nearly 20 years. They won the Super Bowl in his first year and was the Super Bowl MVP. In years 2 and 3, he led the Bucs to division titles as well. He also led the NFL in many statistical categories while at Tampa Bay including pass attempts, completions, and yards. 
  10. Simeon Rice: on any other defense, Rice would have been the best player on the team. With Tampa Bay, he was merely an afterthought. However, Rice was dominant in his 6 seasons with the team, recording 69.5 sacks. That’s over 11 sacks a season – on average!! Rice was the 5th best player on their Super Bowl winning defense. Which says more about how great that defense truly was. Nonetheless, Rice deserves to be on this list. 

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