Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Franchise Team

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SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 26: Defensive players Warren Sapp #99, Simeon Rice #97 and Chartric Darby #91 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate the victory against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium on January 26, 2003 in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 48-21. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

As the dog days of the NFL summer approach, we at Last Word On Sports introduce our “All-Franchise” teams for each of the league’s 32 clubs. For this series, our football writers have composed all-time rosters compiled with the greatest players in each franchise’s history at each position along with their time and accomplishments with the team. From offense to defense to special teams, each unit is displayed on a first-team, “starter” basis only. Because of their young age, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans rosters weren’t as difficult to assemble. On the flip side, given their respective rich histories during the Super Bowl era, building the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys teams were more arduous (yet compelling) tasks.

The offensive lineup is comprised of one quarterback, one running back, three wide receivers, one tight end and five offensive linemen. Though “fullback” was omitted due to its scarcity in modern-day football, players who played that position may be placed as the running back because of their significant contributions to their respective franchise’s ground game. The defense will have the familiar four defensive back look (two cornerbacks, two safeties), but the front seven, whether 4-3 or 3-4, will be arranged in the alignment that the team traditionally runs and/or was historically successful in. Finally, the special teams will have a kicker, a punter and a return man responsible for bringing back kickoffs and punts.

Today, we present the All-Franchise team for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Franchise Team

Head Coach: Tony Dungy (1996-2001)

Though Jon Gruden is the franchise’s all-time wins leader and a Super Bowl-winning coach, Tony Dungy takes the helm for this All-Franchise team. Hired by Rich McKay in January 1996, Dungy inherited a historically-unsuccessful franchise that was still in the midst of its losing ways. Despite going 6-10 in that year, it would be the Buccaneers’ only losing season under Dungy. In 1997, the Bucs started 5-0, their best start since 1979. Enduring growing pains, he gradually put together a roster that would excel under his Cover 2 zone defense. Because of the surging defensive unit and the rise in team success, the scheme was famously renamed the “Tampa 2.” By the turn of the century, Tampa Bay was a serious Super Bowl contender. Despite going to the playoffs each year from 1999-2001, including an NFC Championship Game appearance in 1999, Dungy was fired in early 2002 due to the disappointing postseason faulters. Gruden did win three NFC South division titles as Tampa’s coach, but Tony Dungy was the composer of the franchise’s greatest strength during its apex, the defense.

Offense

Quarterback: Jameis Winston (2015-present)

Buccaneers fans and football supporters will take exception to this, but Jameis Winston is worthy of the selection. After concluding a stellar Heisman Trophy-winning, national championship-claiming career at Florida State, Winston was taken first overall by Tampa Bay in the 2015 NFL Draft. He set franchise rookie records in completions (312), attempts (535), passing yards (4,042) and passing touchdowns (22) on his way to the Pro Bowl. Winston finished his sophomore season with career highs in completions (345), yards (4,090) and passing scores (28). The former Seminole led the Bucs on a five-game winning streak in 2016, the franchise’s longest such stretch since its 2002 Super Bowl-earning campaign. Though last season was a disappointment due to injury and failed team expectations, Winston managed to set career bests in completion percentage (63.8) and passer rating (92.2). His 69 career passing touchdowns are the most in NFL history by a quarterback before the age of 24. Despite missing the first three games of 2018 with a suspension, he remains on pace to become the team’s all-time leader in completions (206 shy), yards (3,185 shy) and touchdowns (12 shy). Brad Johnson may have been the more popular choice here, but he benefited from a legendary defense when the franchise was at its peak in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Winston also competes in the NFC South, the NFL’s deepest quarterback division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. With the team’s added help along the defensive line this off-season, Winston should have an easier time collecting W’s (or “eating” them, rather).

Running Back: Mike Alstott (1996-2007)

James Wilder is Tampa’s all-time leading rusher, but Mike Alstott is the most-accomplished ballcarrier. Though his official position was fullback, Alstott garnered the lion’s share of the team’s running attempts throughout his career. As a 1996 rookie out of Purdue, he earned Second-team All-Pro honors. From there, he earned six consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1997-2002, including three First-team All-Pro nods (1997-1999). Scoring the first touchdown of the Buccaneers’ dominating Super Bowl triumph over the Oakland Raiders, Alstott finished the game with 15 rushing yards along with five catches for 43 yards. He currently sits second in franchise history in rushing carries (1,359) and rushing yards (5,088) while being number one in rushing touchdowns (58). A consistent chain-mover, he ended his professional career with 324 first downs on the ground. Though his playing days were stopped with a neck injury, Alstott still made his way into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Due to his consistency and physicality, he was named one of the ten best “power backs” of all-time by the NFL Network. Including Wilder, the Buccaneers have had quality running backs from Warrick Dunn to Doug Martin, but Mike Alstott is far and away the franchise’s greatest runner. Being the most-decorated offensive player in a team’s history as a fullback makes his spot on this roster even more impressive.

Wide Receiver: Mark Carrier (1987-1992)

Outside of running back, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have much respectable depth at any other offensive position historically. Despite the discrepancy, however, Mark Carrier is deserving of this number-one receiver slot. After two modest seasons to begin his NFL run, Carrier enjoyed a breakout campaign in 1989 with career highs in receptions (86), yards (1,422) and touchdowns (nine) to claim his first and only Pro Bowl selection. The 1,422-yard mark is still a franchise single-season record today. Having the concentration to make plays in traffic, the Nicholls State product also used his shiftiness to gain yards after the catch. Placing top five in the major receiving categories, Carrier’s 5,018 career yards are the most in team history.

Wide Receiver: Mike Evans (2014-present)

After catching passes from Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, the Buccaneers selected Mike Evans with the seventh pick in the 2014 NFL draft, a draft known for the dominant wide receivers. With the Atlanta FalconsJulio Jones and Carolina PanthersKelvin Benjamin in the NFC South, Tampa wanted another big-bodied target to go opposite of Vincent Jackson. Being impactful all throughout his first-year campaign, Evans became the first rookie wideout to have three consecutive games of 100-plus yards and at least one touchdown since Randy Moss in 1998. Becoming the youngest player in league history to catch for 200 or more yards in one game, he is also the fifth rookie in the Super Bowl era to record 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a game (the first since Anquan Boldin in 2003). Two seasons later, the 6’5 pass-catcher went to his first Pro Bowl after amassing career bests in receptions (96), yards (1,321), touchdowns (12) and yards per game (82.6). A steady playmaker throughout his first four seasons, Evans averages 77 catches for 1,144 yards and eight scores per year. Already second in team history in receiving touchdowns, the former Aggie will soon surpass Mark Carrier in receptions and yards.

Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson (2012-2016)

Keyshawn Johnson has a compelling case to make this All-franchise roster, but Vincent Jackson wins the slight edge. Spending his first seven NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Jackson was an unheralded contributor as teammates LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates were in their primes. Notwithstanding the presence of two superstars, he reached the Pro Bowl in two of his final three seasons with the team. In March 2012, Jackson signed a lucrative five-year, $55.55 million free-agent deal with the Buccaneers. His presence proved to be crucial as the franchise set new records in total offense (5,820) and total points scored (389). Setting career highs in receptions (72) and yards (1,384), Jackson reached his third and final Pro Bowl as an NFL player. In 2013, he reset his personal best with 78 grabs. Though injuries hampered his final two years with the Bucs, Jackson departed the franchise placing top 10 in catches (10th, 268), yards (4th, 4,326) and touchdowns (9th, 20).

Tight End: Jimmie Giles (1978-1986)

After spending his rookie season with the Houston Oilers, Jimmie Giles joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his sophomore campaign. Only posting 342 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 23 catches in 1978, Giles tallied career highs in receptions (40), yards (577) and scores (seven) the following year. Both his reception and touchdown marks dipped in 1980, but he set a new personal best with 602 yards. Playing a full season for only the second time ever in 1981, the Alcorn State product once again established a career yardage peak with 786. Obtaining all four of his Pro Bowl selections with Tampa (1980-1982, 1985), he utilized his speed and explosiveness to get yardage down the field, despite playing in more of a blocking-centric tight end era. Still the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, Giles was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2011.

Left Tackle: Donald Penn (2006-2013)

Before taking the responsibility of protecting the blind side of Derek Carr for the Oakland Raiders, Donald Penn was the seven-year starting left tackle for Tampa Bay. Signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2006, he was subsequently released and acquired by the Buccaneers for the 2007 season. Starting 12 of 16 games in his debut Bucs campaign, Penn started all 96 contests from 2008-2013. In the process, he made the Pro Bowl in 2010 as an alternate, replacing Chad Clifton of the Green Bay Packers. Penn’s blocking was a crucial part in the team’s 2012 record-breaking offense that featured rookie running back Doug Martin rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Left Guard: Logan Mankins (2014-2015)

After a stellar six-Pro Bowl run for the New England Patriots, Logan Mankins was traded to Tampa right before the start of the 2014 season. Starting 31 of 32 games, Mankins earned his seventh and final career Pro Bowl selection after assisting the Bucs to boast the fifth-best offense in 2015. Though the former All-Pro only played two years for the team, the combination of solid production and the shallow offensive line history in Tampa warranted him a spot of this roster.

Center: Tony Mayberry (1990-1999)

Spending his collegiate career at Wake Forest, German-born Tony Mayberry was drafted in the 4th round (108th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1990 NFL Draft. Only starting one game during his rookie season, Mayberry started in each of the team’s 145 regular season games from 1991 to the end of his career in 1999. Not receiving his deserved recognition to start his career, he was voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-1999. Though he was released by the Bucs before after the 1999 season, Mayberry still remains the franchise’s best and most-decorated offensive lineman.

Right Guard: Davin Joseph (2006-2013)

Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23rd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, University of Oklahoma’s Davin Joseph started 12 of 13 games at right guard. In year two, he became an every-down starter. His consistency along the trenches earned him his first Pro Bowl selection in 2008. Blossoming into one of the top run blockers in the league, Joseph inked a remunerative seven-year, $53 million deal in July 2011 and secured his second Pro Bowl nod by the calendar year’s end. During the 2012 preseason, the former Sooner sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the entire campaign. This occurrence was compounded by when former New Orleans Saints All-Pro guard Carl Nicks was placed on injured reserve in October of that season. Though Joseph recovered by playing in all 16 games in 2013, he was released soon after. It’s interesting to think what could’ve been for Joseph if he didn’t get hurt, but he’s still the franchise’s greatest guard, nonetheless.

Right Tackle: Paul Gruber (1988-1999)

Paul Gruber actually played left tackle for the Buccaneers, but the Donald Penn inclusion pushed him to the opposite side of this offensive line. Getting two All-Pro designations during his career (1991-1992), Gruber was one of the few bright spots on a consistently-poor franchise that posted 12-straight 10-loss seasons. When Tampa Bay did make the playoffs in 1999, Gruber missed time due to a broken leg, a catalyst for his retirement in the 2000 off-season. His 183 games started was a franchise record until Derrick Brooks broke it in 2007. A fixture for the team’s offensive line for over a decade, Gruber became the fourth person inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor in 2012.

Defense (based in a 4-3 alignment)

Defensive End: Lee Roy Selmon (1976-1984)

The legacy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers resides on the defensive side of the ball, thanks to Lee Roy Selmon constructing that foundation. Taking number one overall out of Oklahoma in 1976, Selmon was the franchise’s very first draft selection. Making an immediate impact for the expansion Bucs, the former Sooner was elected both the team’s Rookie of the Year and MVP. Three seasons later, Selmon was named a Pro Bowler, First-team All-Pro and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. During his nine-year career, he earned six Pro Bowl selections (five All-Pro honors) and a spot on the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade team. Explosive off the line, he continually fought off double teams to tally 78.5 sacks, albeit only having 23 in the record books since the statistic wasn’t officially tracked until 1982. Being the biggest influence for the franchise’s emergence in the late 1970s, the powerful pass rusher eventually got his number 63 jersey retired. Enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995, Selmon later became the first player inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor in 2009.

Defensive Tackle: Warren Sapp (1995-2003)

The peak of the Buccaneers franchise from the late 1990s to early 2000s was compiled in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft. The team selected Derrick Brooks with the 28th pick, but not before grabbing Warren Sapp at number 12 overall. Putting forth an immensely-decorative collegiate career at the University of Miami, Sapp was even better professionally. Posting 12 sacks and two forced fumbles in his first two seasons combined, Sapp amassed 10.5 takedowns and three forced fumbles in 1997 to reach his first Pro Bowl. Two years later, the former Hurricane won Defensive Player of the Year after setting career highs in sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (four). In 2000, he reset his personal best in takedowns with 16.5. Had it not been for Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, Sapp would’ve easily repeated with DPOY honors. Playing his last down for Tampa in 2003, Sapp finished the tenure with seven Pro Bowl selections (1997-2003), six All-Pro nods (1997-2002) and 77 sacks, the second most in franchise history behind Lee Roy Selmon’s unofficial 78.5-takedown mark. The 100 career NFL sacks he amassed (playoffs included) are the second-most in league history for a defensive tackle, which is extremely uncommon for a position that is traditionally noted for eating up blocks to free up linebackers. Utilizing such rare speed for his size, Sapp’s relentlessness to corral quarterbacks outside of the pocket made him a unique talent. His loquaciousness and confrontational nature also made him a feared opponent. A member of both the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams, the 2013 Hall of Famer inductee got his number 99 jersey by the team.

Defensive Tackle: Gerald McCoy (2010-present)

It’s quite fascinating to reflect and realize that the 2010 NFL Draft featured three of the league’s premier defensive tackles. While highly-touted Ndamukong Suh was second overall pick and Geno Atkins was a mid-draft steal, Gerald McCoy was tabbed in middle of the aforementioned defenders at number three. Starting 13 games as a rookie, McCoy registered 27 tackles, three sacks, four passes defended and two forced fumbles. Hampered by injuries in 2011, the former two-time All-American set career highs for tackles (30) and sacks (five) in 2012 to reach his first Pro Bowl after anchoring the league’s top rushing defense. Achieving a personal best 9.5 sacks in 2013, McCoy was elected First-team All-Pro. From 2014-2017, he has made the Pro Bowl every season. Taking into account Lee Roy Selmon’s career total, McCoy’s 48.5 sacks in eight years rank fourth in franchise history. Still a consistent producer at age 30, he hasn’t had the greatest supporting cast defensively throughout his time in Tampa. With the additions the team has made along the defensive line this off-season, McCoy’s load should be much lighter.

Defensive End: Simeon Rice (2001-2006)

As a high school senior at Mount Carmel in Chicago, Simeon Rice competed against running back Mike Alstott during their state championship-winning season. Just a few years later, the two prep stars reached football’s mountaintop as professional teammates. After a stellar college run at the University of Illinois that featured two First-team All-American honors (1994-1995), Rice was drafted number three overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 1996 NFL Draft. Accumulating double-digit sacks in three of his five seasons in the desert–including 16.5 in 1999–he signed a five-year, $30-plus million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers preceding the 2001 campaign. Joining an already-loading roster, the 1996 Defensive Rookie of the Year became an extra asset the Bucs used against opposing offenses. Sacking the quarterback 11 times in his debut campaign in Tampa, Rice recorded 15.5 takedowns in the franchise’s 2002 title season. He followed up with another 15-sack year along with eight passes defended and six forced fumbles in 2003. Named to two Pro Bowls, Rice tallied at least 11 sacks and 40 tackles every season in Tampa except 2006 when he only played eight games. The two-time All-Pro edge rusher’s 69.5 takedowns rank third in Buccaneers history behind Selmon and Sapp.

Outside Linebacker: Derrick Brooks (1995-2008)

Already claiming Warren Sapp 12th overall in the 1995 NFL draft, the Buccaneers claimed Derrick Brooks later in the first round. Finishing an embellished collegiate career at Florida State, Brooks instantaneously became the leader of the team’s historically-great defensive run from the late 1990s to early 2000s. Starting 13 out of 16 games in his rookie season, he compiled 79 tackles and two forced fumbles. After posting a career-high 133 tackles in 1996, the former Seminole broke out with 145 tackles and two interceptions on the way to his first Pro Bowl. Making his second trip to the NFL’s All-Star game in 1998, a 154-tackle, four-interception campaign earned his first All-Pro designation in 1999. Entering the 2002 season, head coach Jon Gruden challenged his defense to create turnovers and score touchdowns off of them. Brooks responded with personal bests in picks (five) and defensive touchdowns (four) to win Defensive Player of the Year. Thanks to his efforts, scoring points off of takeaways was a pivotal trademark of Tampa’s Super Bowl-claiming team. After his 1995 rookie year, Brooks started every single contest for the Buccaneers from 1996 to the end of his career in 2008. The outstanding linebacker secured 11 Pro Bowl selections (nine All-Pro honors), tied for the second most for his position all time. Adept at covering against the pass and making open-field stops, he was a seamless fit in the team’s famed “Tampa 2” defensive scheme organized by former coach Tony Dungy. Earning his way onto the 2000s All-Decade team, Brooks established himself as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. An even better man off the field, he was the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2000 for his influence on people and their communities. Getting his number 55 jersey retired, he is currently in the Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Ranking first in team history for tackles, forced fumbles, Pro Bowl nods and All-Pro tabs, the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee is the greatest player in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise.

Middle Linebacker: Hardy Nickerson (1993-1999)

Shelton Quarles was a high-quality player for the Bucs during his time, but Hardy Nickerson is the franchise’s best inside backer. Playing his first six seasons as an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Nickerson came to Tampa Bay in 1993 to play on the inside. Operating within the 4-3 base defense, he flourished right away by amassing 214 tackles to collect Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro regards. Earning five Pro Bowl honors (four All-Pros) in seven seasons with Tampa, Nickerson’s energy, fiery personality and leadership were crucial assets in the franchise’s climb to respectability in the early to mid-1990s. Though he doesn’t get the heightened adoration as the other Buccaneer greats, his prime years were some of the most productive in team history. In 2006, the 1990s All-Decade team member became the color analyst for the Buccaneers radio network. Eight years later, he served as the team’s linebackers coach for two seasons. Today, Nickerson sits third in franchise history for tackles (680) behind Derrick Brooks (1,710) and Ronde Barber (1,231).

Outside Linebacker: Lavonte David (2012-present)

Similar to the 2010 NFL Draft with the defensive tackles, a noteworthy aspect of the 2012 Player Selection ceremony was the amount of star-level linebackers. Luke Kuechly was drafted ninth overall by the Carolina Panthers while Bobby Wagner was taken in round two by the Seattle Seahawks. Kuechly has essentially been a superstar since day one, and Wagner has also developed into an elite defender in the last two seasons. Even draft mates Melvin Ingram and Dont’a Hightower have garnered fair shares of recognition. Despite being a continuous stat stuffer, Lavonte David doesn’t accumulate the same reverence. Since being drafted 58th overall by the Buccaneers in 2012, David has surpassed 100 tackles every year except 2016 (not to mention having at least 139 stops in each of his first four seasons). In 2013, he earned First-team All-Pro honors by posting 145 tackles, seven sacks, nine passes defended, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. Making the 2015 Pro Bowl and two more All-Pro teams the last two seasons, David is one of the most underrated players in the league. He even clocked in at number four on our website’s 2017 Pro Bowl Snubs list. Perhaps the biggest culprit for his unheralded resume is the underachieving supporting cast around him on defense. For a franchise known for its stellar defensive units, the team hasn’t achieved that same yearly success the last several seasons, despite having David and Gerald McCoy on the roster. Amidst that discrepancy, David has remained a reliable player. Currently top six in team history for tackles (4th, 547), forced fumbles (3rd, 17) and defended passes (6th, 34), the former Northwestern defender will continue to increase his career totals.

Cornerback: Ronde Barber (1997-2012)

While Tiki Barber spent his entire 10-year career with the New York Giants, identical twin brother Ronde played all 16 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A third-round draft selection from the University of Virginia, Barber had 226 tackles, 9.5 sacks and six interceptions combined in his first four seasons. In 2001, he enjoyed a stellar campaign with career highs in picks (10) and passes defended (24) to obtain both Pro Bowl and First-team All-Pro honors for the first time. Though he missed the league’s All-Star showcase in 2002, he still received All-Pro recognition during Tampa’s championship season. By 2012, Barber had five Pro Bowl selections (five All-Pros) and a Super Bowl victory on his resume. Alike Derrick Brooks, he was a tailor-made player for the famed “Tampa 2” defensive scheme with his abilities to control the perimeter and make timely tackles. Proficient at scoring off of takeaways, Barber’s 12 defensive touchdowns are the most ever by a Buccaneer. The former Cavalier is the only player in NFL history 45-plus interceptions and 25-plus sacks. His 224 consecutive starts, including playoffs, are the most in league history for a defensive back. Due to the heightened demand for the shutdown, press-coverage corners in today’s game with the exponential growth in both passing and “freak show” wide receivers, Barber’s professional career has gone somewhat uncelebrated in the media and fan discussions. Notwithstanding the lack of adoration, he put forth a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Currently top seven in franchise history for interceptions (1st, 47), defensive scores (1st, 12), passes defended (166), tackles (2nd, 1,231), forced fumbles (5th, 15) and sacks (8th, 28), Barber induction into the team’s Ring of Honor is soon approaching.

Cornerback: Donnie Abraham (1996-2001)

Featuring Aqib Talib, Darrelle Revis and Brent Grimes over the years, Tampa Bay has been a hub for talented secondary players. With his statistics and longer stay with the franchise, Donnie Abraham gets the second comeback job for this All-Franchise squad. Picked 71st overall by the Bucs in 1996, Abraham had 11 combined interceptions in years one through three. He had a career year across the board in 1999 with personal bests for tackles (79), interceptions (seven), defensive touchdowns (two) and sacks (two). Abraham responded with another seven-interception campaign in 2000 to reach his first and only career Pro Bowl selection, despite a decrease in other categories. Although he only started five games in 2001, he still managed to get six picks. Unfortunately for him, he missed out on Tampa Bay’s 2002 Super Bowl run as he moved on to the New York Jets. His 31 interceptions are good for second in franchise history behind Ronde Barber’s 47.

Free Safety: Dexter Jackson (1999-2002, 2004-2005)

The 2013 Seahawks have a few things in common with the 2002 Buccaneers. Not only were the two clubs filled with Hall of Famers (present and future) that led historically-dominant defenses in stifling performances against historically-dominant offenses in the Super Bowl, but they also included unsung heroes that won MVP honors in the league’s big game. In short, Malcolm Smith was Seattle’s version of Tampa’s Dexter Jackson. A reserve for his first two seasons, Jackson started 15 games for the Bucs and collected four interceptions in 2001. With his pick total dropping to three in 2002, the former fourth-rounder flashed with two interceptions in Super Bowl XXXVII. Playing his best in the biggest game in both franchise history and of his life, Jackson took home the Super Bowl MVP award, becoming only the third defensive back ever to earn the honor. After producing a career year for the Arizona Cardinals in 2003, Jackson returned to Tampa for two more seasons before departing for good in 2006.

Strong Safety: John Lynch (1993-2003)

Before Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and Ronde Barber entered the league, John Lynch was the first member of the franchise’s “Tampa 2” quartet. Drafted 82nd overall in the 1993 NFL draft, Lynch started a combined 10 games in his first three seasons. Starting 14 of 16 games in 1996, he had 103 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack. The next season, he set a career high in tackles (109) to go along with two picks and two fumble recoveries. A personal best 117 stops in 1999 got the former Stanford star to both his first Pro Bowl selection and First-team All-Pro nod. He continued his high-end productivity by making Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams the subsequent two campaigns. Though he missed the NFL’s All-Star game during Tampa Bay’s 2002 title year, he was yet named Second-team All-Pro. By the early 2000s, Lynch established himself as one of the premier defensive backs in football. Knocked for being too slow to play in a quick-paced NFL, he developed into one of the most feared, devastating hitters in league history. Whether it was hitting baseballs in college or hitting ballcarriers professionally, Lynch left forceful impacts on his recipients. Fifth in Bucs history in tackles (541), Lynch is now in the franchise’s Ring of Honor and soon to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though it’s interesting to wonder how he would fare in today’s game given the rule changes to eliminate heightened physicality, it’s not hyperbolic to say that a five-time Pro Bowler for a franchise would adjust.

Special Teams

Kicker: Martin Gramatica (1999-2004)

The Roberto Aguayo experiment was a disaster for Tampa Bay, but at least they once got the kicker position right with Martin Gramatica. Culminating a stellar college career at Kansas State, the Lou Groza Award winner was drafted in the third round by the Bucs in the 1999 NFL Draft. After making 27 of 32 field goal attempts as a rookie, Gramatica gained his first and only Pro Bowl selection in 2000 by converting 28 of 34 tries (five of which were made from 50 or more yards). In 2002, the former two-time All-American set a personal best 32 made field goals during Tampa’s championship season. Finishing his tenure for the Buccaneers in 2004, Gramatica is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 592 points. He isn’t nearly as accomplished of an Argentinean as basketball legend Manu Ginobili, but he was definitely a dependable special teamer for Tampa Bay.

Punter: Josh Bidwell (2004-2009)

Spending the first five seasons of his career for the Green Bay Packers, Josh Bidwell signed a three-year contract with the Buccaneers in 2004. Achieving career highs for punts (90), punt yards (4,101) and yards per punt average (45.6) in 2005, Bidwell earned his first and only career Pro Bowl selection. Released by Tampa in early 2010, he finished his tenure as the team’s all-time leader in punts (419), punt yardage (18,426) and yards per punt average (44.0). Being the franchise’s lone Pro Bowl punter, Bidwell’s inclusion on the All-Franchise was a shoo-in.

Return Man: Karl Williams (1996-2003)

Michael Spurlock did have the first kickoff-returned touchdown in franchise history in 2007, but that wasn’t enough to unseat Karl Williams for this final spot on the Buccaneers All-Franchise team. Brought in by Tony Dungy as an undrafted free agent in 1996, Williams posted 274 punt return yards and a touchdown as a rookie. The following season, he posted a career-best 597 punt return yards and another score. From 2000-2002, Williams tallied at least 285 punt return yards and one touchdown each year. Fifteen years removed from his time in Tampa, he’s the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in punt return yards (2,279) and combined return touchdowns (five).

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