When discussing the best defensive linemen in Tampa Bay lore, Simeon Rice has to be near or at the peak of that discussion. Few people in league history were as disruptive as Rice, but he doesn’t get the same amount of respect as others. Well, I am here to change that narrative and give Rice some respect for the incredible NFL career he curated.
Unlike many other players on this list, Rice did not begin his career in Tampa Bay. He first made a name for himself in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. It all began when Rice fell to the Cardinals as the third overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft out of Illionis.
For those younger fans, a good comparison for him coming out of college is Bradley Chubb from this year. He was very, very highly touted. He performed up to snuff in Arizona, despite being on losing teams. After the 2000 season, he was ready to move on from the Cardinals.
Enter the Buccaneers, who provided the best home and well, the rest is history. Rice was a proven commodity, recording three double-digit sack seasons while in Arizona. However, when he joined forces with Derrick Brooks and the loaded Buccaneers defense, he took it to another level. In his six seasons with Tampa Bay, Rice only failed to reach double-digit sacks once, and that was an injury riddled 2006 season.
Excluding the two sacks he recorded in 2006, Rice tallied 67.5 sacks in five seasons with Tampa Bay. That is absurd. Here are his sack totals from 2001 to 2005 in order: 11, 15.5, 15, 12, 14. His highest total came in 2002, and by this point, everyone knows that was when the team won the Super Bowl.
Oh and by the way, he went to three Pro-Bowls and earned All-Pro honors once. Rice checks every box for this ranking. Longevity of career in Tampa, overall talent, and influence on team success; he did it all. Rice was incredible for Tampa Bay and is a lock for a high spot on any list of the best Buccaneers of all-time.