Top ten Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks of all time

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Sylvia Allen/Getty Images) /

Doug Williams (1978-1982)

The infancy of the Bucs is infamous. Coached by John McKay, the creamsicle Buccaneers lost their first 26 games as a franchise before finally notching a win against the New Orleans Saints. Going 0-14 in 1976, the Buccaneers were “rewarded” with the first overall pick in 1977 which they used on running back Ricky Bell out of USC, the former home of McKay. In 1977, they went 2-12. Once again, they had the first overall pick.

The Buccaneers swapped this pick for the Houston Oilers’ 17th overall pick as well as their second-round pick along with tight-end Jimmie Giles. Giles would go on to become the greatest tight end the Buccaneers have ever had, while their first-round pick, Doug Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and also became the Bucs’ second-best quarterback ever.

Williams’s first pass with the Buccaneers came in the preseason that sailed ten yards over the head of Issac Hagins, but the Tampa crowd still gave a standing ovation. Why? Well, because it was the first time the Bucs had a quarterback capable of throwing long passes downfield. We’ve come a long way.

The Buccaneers improved to 5-11 in 1978 with rookie Williams then 10-6 in 1979, winning the then NFC Central. That year, the Buccaneers would advance to the NFC Championship with Williams at the helm, along with playoff appearances in 1981 and 1982.

In typical Bucs fashion, it ended ugly.

That offseason, Williams asked for a $600,000 contract. However, Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, a man known to squeeze a quarter so tight the eagle would cry, refused to budge from his initial offer of $400,000 despite protests from McKay. This resulted in Williams deciding to forgo playing football altogether in 1983 and agreeing to play for the upstart USFL’s Oklahoma Outlaws starting in 1984. In 1983 without Williams, the Buccaneers went down the toilet. They went 2–14 and did not make the playoffs again until the 1997 season,14 years later. The Buccaneers would lose ten games in every season but one in that stretch. Culverhouse’s willingness to let Williams walk away over such a relatively small amount of money was seen as insensitive, especially as it came only months after Williams’ wife Janice died of an aneurysm.

For what the Bucs were before and after Williams, it’s obvious he deserves to be where he is on this list. Before and after Williams, a case could have been made for the Buccaneers to be relegated to the very same USFL he bolted to after Culverhouse stiffed him.

Doug Williams was the greatest quarterback the Buccaneers ever had, well, until 2020…