Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What if Seau was drafted instead of McCants?

Keith McCants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr. /Allsport
Keith McCants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr. /Allsport /

The Buccaneers passing on a future Hall of Fame linebacker does not get talked about nearly enough. What if they did draft Junior Seau though?

For this week’s trip to the multiverse, we will explore how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have been different had they picked the correct linebacker in the 1990 NFL Draft. When it comes to Judging draft picks, hindsight is beyond 20/20, it’s Superman-level x-ray vision. However, when something is as black and white as the Buccaneers drafting one linebacker while someone that plays the exact same position goes with the literal next pick, this trip to the multiverse really isn’t that out of the question.

A quick refresher, after yet another dismal season in 1989 to close out the 1980’s, the Buccaneers were “awarded” with the fourth pick in the 1990 Draft with the Chargers having the fifth. This draft would go on to be littered with busts at premier positions but did feature three future Hall of Famers in the first round. One of which was a linebacker out of USC named Junior Seau. The Chargers would take him with the number five pick. As for the Bucs? They would take Alabama linebacker, Keith McCants.

Junior Seau, San Diego Chargers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

A dominant pass-rusher whilst rolling with the Tide with 4.5 speed, McCants was a huge linebacker to boot at 6-feet-3-inches and 265 pounds. He would eventually switch to defensive end but would reward the Buccaneers with only 12 sacks in 42 games and not ultimately amount to much in the NFL. He would get notoriety as one of the poster children for post-retirement problems with players sadly enough though. Seau, on the other hand, would go on to be one of the greatest linebackers to ever play.

What would happen had the Buccaneers chose the right linebacker?

For this trip to the multiverse, it’s fairly simple. The Buccaneers would have had the greatest set of linebackers of all time to go along with possibly the greatest defense. Seau was an ageless wonder on defense, as was safety John Lynch, who would join the Buccaneers in 1993. Being signed in 1993 (the first year of free agency as we know it today) was linebacker Hardy Nickerson from the Pittsburgh Steelers, which stays the same in this universe. All would-be remnants of the end of the dark days before the Tony Dungy-led renaissance.

In 1995, the Buccaneers still draft Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks to put the finishing touches on their defense. By the time 1999 rolls around, this Bucs defense is even better than it was in reality. Nickerson, Brooks, and the late-great Seau become the greatest linebacking corp of all time, leading the Buccaneers past the greatest show on turf and Tennesee Titans and a win in Super Bowl XXXIV. They get back and win again in 2000 in a battle of two great defenses in the Bucs and Ray Lewis’ Baltimore Ravens. The Bucs win again (in their home stadium) in Super Bowl XXXV and by 2002 forget about it.

In this universe where Seau is a Buccaneer, they win three Super Bowls in four years to cement their status as a dynasty. The answers to your questions are yes. Dungy is still the coach and Shaun King the quarterback, but with this defense does it matter?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tony Dungy, Shaun King, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by PETER MUHLY/AFP via Getty Images) /

As for the rest of the NFL, the Chargers don’t get to Super Bowl XXIX in the 1994 season sans-Seau, instead, it’s the “Blitzburgh” Steelers who have the honor of getting smoked by Steve Young and Jerry Rice’s San Francisco 49ers, before falling to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX, so they end up losing back-to-back.  This may be a bit of a tough pill to swallow, but so it goes in the multiverse. Speaking of which, Ray Lewis doesn’t get his ring until 2012 too which he probably doesn’t appreciate.

Seau still leaves for free agency in 2003 with other defensive veterans to follow, and the Bucs go back to the drawing board. However, had the Buccaneers simply picked the next best linebacker (in their eyes) on their board, they would have become a dynasty.

Some sticklers out there may point out that had they had Seau they wouldn’t have felt the need to sign Nickerson in 1993, or possibly even draft Brooks. So for that, we reply with this: swap Nickerson for Seau in 1999/Brooks for Seau in 2002. The Bucs still come out on top. Sinenote, please don’t take this as a jab at Shelton Quarles.

All of this could have been ours had the Buccaneers made the right call on draft day, but such was life for the Buccaneers in the mid-late 1980s-early 1990s. We hope you enjoyed this trip to the multiverse courtesy of this “what-if” scenario, and feel free to let us know where we should travel next.

Next. Our last trip to the multiverse courtesy of our "What-If" scenario. dark