The Best Bucs Unrestricted Free Agent Signings

February 27th, 2022

Former (?) Bucs QB Tom Brady.

This is a cool story you could debate over beers with friends on an otherwise slow Friday night during the dragging summer as football season approaches.

Scott Smith over at listed what he believes are the top-10 Bucs free agent signings. And it is hard to quibble with the list. Joe will go through Smith’s top-10 with some thoughts on each selection.

1. Tom Brady, 2020: This may be the No. 1 free agent signing in NFL history, forget the Bucs, unless you want to stomp your feet for Reggie White. Brady took one of those most moribund franchises and by sheer will and work ethic, brought the NFL’s fire hydrant in a dog part to immediate Super Bowl status with TV network suits getting into fistfights to broadcast their games. What Brady did in just his first year, with no offseason program whatsoever, was one of the great stories and feats in sports.

2. DE Simeon Rice, 2001: Rice made an already great defense legendary. With his constant edge pressure and Warren Sapp’s pressure from the interior, opposing quarterbacks vomited before kickoff.

3. LB Hardy Nickerson, 1993: He helped change a culture but this is a little too high for Joe. Nickerson never got the Bucs to a Super Bowl and one could argue the defense played better in 2002 when Nickerson was already gone. Still, a big-time free agent pickup.

4. QB Brad Johnson, 2001: Defenses finally had to concern themselves with the pass when the Bucs got Brady Johnson. Digested Chucky’s complex playbook in less than a year while leading the Bucs to the Super Bowl.

5. OLB Shaq Barrett, 2019: No one saw this coming. Shaq immediately gave the Bucs 19 1/2 sacks and a serious one-two punch in the pass rush along with Jason Pierre-Paul. Shaq went wild in the 2020 NFC Championship and Super Bowl. Joe isn’t sure the Bucs get past the Packers without Shaq.

6. WR Vincent Jackson, 2012: Excellent player but too high. Jackson’s impact was pretty much null and void. The Bucs stunk before Jackson signed and they stunk with him. Honestly, he was one of the few bright spots during the depths of the Lost Decade but Joe believes a top free agent signing has to have more impact. The only season the Bucs finished with a winning record with Jackson (9-7) was 2016, but Jackson only played in five games that season. As it turned out, it was Jackson’s last season.

7. C Ryan Jensen, 2018: Key pickup. Jensen was just OK his first year (2018) and he later admitted that he downshifted a little after signing a then-highest-paid contract for a center. Jensen became a force and anchored the middle of the best offensive line in the NFL. He made his first Pro Bowl this winter.

8. RB Michael Pittman, 2002: Underrated. Pittman wasn’t as good as the guy he succeeded, Warrick Dunn, but the mark of an impact player was Pittman having his best game with the Bucs in the Super Bowl win over the Raiders. For that reason alone, Pittman deserves to be on this list.

9. DE Greg Spires, 2002: This has the feel of a reach. Spires was a nice player and played on the 2002 Super Bowl-winning team but nothing really jumps out for Joe making Spires that special.

10. CB Martin Mayhew, 1993: Joe would have to go through year by year on this one, but Mayhew was never a Pro Bowl player with the Bucs and when he played, the Bucs were absolutely brutal. This is a reach.

Now Joe understands there will be a reader who screams: What about Ndamukong Suh or Keenan McCardell? Smith points out in his story those players were not true unrestricted free agents. Playoff Lenny was an unrestricted free agent but Smith chose not to include him.

19 Responses to “The Best Bucs Unrestricted Free Agent Signings”

  1. Bobby Buc Says:

    gotta include lenny…

  2. Listnfrmafar Says:

    What, NO AB????

  3. Proud Bucs Fan Says:

    Forget this list. We want to see the list of Best Buc players ran off by Head Coach’s ego.

  4. Cobraboy Says:

    I don’t buy this guy’s definition that Suh & McCardell were not unrestricted free agents?

    He narrows his definition to players who played out their contracts (like Suh).


  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What about Stuart McCown & Swaggy Baker?…….

  6. Adrnagy Says:

    Shaq number 5 … lol

  7. nate Says:

    no gronk?

  8. SB Says:

    “Brady Johnson”…………LOL, whichever Joe is typing has Brady on the brain!

  9. New England Patriots Says:

    NFL Network Predicts Deshaun Watson to Washington Commanders

  10. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Gronk wasn’t a FA, Patriots still owned his rights, Bucs traded for him. I think a 4th round pick.

  11. Admiral Redbeard Says:

    No Gronk, JPP, or Suh?!? LOL!!!

  12. cmurda Says:

    Tom is obvious but so is Simeon. He was simply amazing to watch. Name another DE that challenged Vick to run away from him and backed it up. I’ve watched him chase Vick from behind when both were in a dead sprint. Don’t even get me started on his elite pass rushing skills. Just look up the numbers and explain to me how in the F is this guy not in the HOF. It’s a darn travesty. Off on a tangent here but: There are a few players that blow my mind that should be in the NFL HOF. Barber, Rice, Zach Thomas, Roger Craig, Reggie Wayne. Reggie Wayne too. How in the world? Baseball HOF Pete Rose. Drives me nuts that he’s not in. Had a gambling problem? So does a quarter of the world. So what. Also, if you are going to throw known steroid users in, how can you not have the guy that has the all-time best stats in baseball history. Barry Bonds had ridiculous numbers. He’s been blackballed because he was not likeable. All of these snubs are ridiculous. Anyway, I digress. Carry on folks.

  13. Tony Says:

    We need to put Michael Johnson in there for sure.😁

  14. Tony Says:

    Kellen Winslow should be in there, too!😬

  15. StAugBuc Says:

    Some of you have poor memories. Bucs traded for Winslow and JPP

  16. Tony Says:

    Oh yeah you’re right.

  17. Biff Barker Says:

    Joe, you missed one of the greatest Buc player in terms of attitude. Hardy Nickerson. For Shame.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Where is Wayne Haddix?!?!

    Came off the street to get 7 INTs, with 3 TD returns, made the pro-bowl, is the best defensive player in Tecmo Super Bowl…

    The disrespect!

  19. David Otterness Says:

    Alvin Harper was the best