Let’s rank the five best free agent signings in Tampa Bay Buccaneer history

Yes, Brad Johnson made the list.

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click to enlarge Brad Johnson's interception percentage that year (1.3%) was a huge reason the Bucs were as successful as they were. - Photo via Buccaneers
Photo via Buccaneers
Brad Johnson's interception percentage that year (1.3%) was a huge reason the Bucs were as successful as they were.
Last week Creative Loafing Tampa Bay ranked the best Tampa Bay Buccaneer draft picks of all time, but with the recent influx of free agent signings over these past few years, it’s certainly worth visiting the most impactful signings in the team’s history. Let’s get to it.

No. 1: Ryan Succop
ust kidding.

No. 1: Tom Brady

This one was obvious, right? This free agent signing from the 2020-2022 season might be the biggest in Tampa sports history. TB12 brought in his wake a long list of uber-talented individuals that contributed to a Super Bowl run that is so fun to think back on. Gronk, Leonard Fournette, and many others only came to the Bucs because Brady was here. So obviously his impact on the field goes without saying, but his recruiting ability might be even more important when looking back at this signing from a historic perspective.
No. 2: Simeon Rice

There’s obviously an allure surrounding the 2002 Bucs defense during that Super Bowl run, and it’s well deserved. A lot of that has to do with the big names, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, etc. But Simeon Rice—picked up in 2001 after his contract with the St. Louis Cardinals expired—gave that Bucs defense a pass rushing force that the franchise really hadn’t seen since Lee Roy Selmon. Rice was a foundational piece of that defense and without him I sincerely doubt Tampa has two championships.

No. 3: Shaq Barrett

Shaq Barrett has turned himself into one of the better pass rushers in the league, and he kind of came onto the scene from seemingly nowhere. Entrenched as Von Miller’s backup in Denver, Shaq came over in 2019 and became Sack Barrett. Another key contributor to a great defensive Super Bowl run, he was making Patrick Mahomes’ life miserable in that 31-9 route on home turf.
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No. 4: Vincent Jackson

The late, great Vincent Jackson came to Tampa in 2012 and played during some lean years in Bucs history, but his productivity certainly did not waiver, despite having to haul in passes from a multitude of suspect QBs. His role in helping Mike Evans develop into the receiver Evans is today can also not be understated, as they became the first receiving duo in Bucs history to record 1,000 receiving yards each in a season.

No. 5: Brad Johnson

Everyone mentions that Super Bowl-winning Bucs defense from 2002, but Johnson—signed in 2001—managed to put together a nice supporting role for himself during that time. His interception percentage that year (1.3%) was a huge reason the Bucs were as successful as they were, with the defense doing their thing and the offense taking care of the football.
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