When it comes to player moves, the Tampa Bay Bucs have done some great things (drafted Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks with back to back 1st Round picks quickly comes to mind) yet, they have also made some moves that have left fans scratching their heads. Here are the top 5 free agency blunders in Buccaneer history:
5. OG Carl Nicks. Before I call him a complete bust, reports out of One Buc Place are that Nicks is making progress toward a return, and has been seen working out at the Bucs’ facility. Since he signed with Tampa, Nicks has been plagued by an injured toe and the locker room MRSA infection fiasco. Regardless of the reasons, let me remind everyone that the Bucs have paid Nicks $25 million for the first two years of his contract, and he’s been able to play a grand total of nine games for Tampa. He is still an incredibly gifted football player, and it appears Lovie Smith is going to give him every chance to get back on the field but, as of today, the Nicks signing sure does look like a blunder.
4. C Jeff Faine. After bouncing around between the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs decided to back up the Brinks truck and dump a monster load of money in Jeff Faine’s driveway. Did Faine play poorly as the Bucs center? No, not really. But after one season where he was a pro-bowl alternate (’07), the Bucs gave him a massive six-year, $37.5 million deal. When you get Nick Mangold kind of money, it is expected you will play like, well…Nick Mangold. Faine played OK, but certainly not Mangold good. After four unspectacular seasons Faine was released. For that kind of cash, the Faine signing needs to be considered a blunder.
3. K Steve Christie. I know, kickers really should not make a list like this. However, the Bucs no-name kicker left Tampa as a free agents and joined the Buffalo Bills prior to the ’92 season. Once he got to Buffalo all he did was kick in two Super Bowls, become the team’s all-time leading scorer, hit the game winning kick to seal the largest comeback in NFL history and nail nine overtime kicks. Yeah, I think we can categorize letting Christie go as a blunder.
2. WR Alvin Harper. Before joing the Bucs all I can remember about Dallas’ Alvin Harper is him streaking down the sideline as Troy Aikman lofted a pass that fell perfectly into his hands, all-the-while Packer DB Terrell Buckley is chasing him hopelessly as he crossed the goal-line. That must have been the only play the Bucs brain-trust saw when they signed Harper to a $10.66 million contract in ‘95. For Harper to be successful in Tampa all they needed to do was bring Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin along with him. Well, they didn’t, and Harper flamed out after two seasons catching a pathetic 65 passes as a Buc. How bad was this free agent signing? Bad enough that it made NFL.com’s top 10 worst free agency moves of all time!
1. QB Doug Williams. Listen, I am not going to tell Bucs fans a story that they don’t already know. Someday I will do an article on the best draft picks in Bucs history and Doug Williams will be near the top of the list too. Don’t forget folks, Tampa had never been to the playoffs before Williams arrived. After he became the Bucs’ signal caller they went to the playoffs three times in four years and played in the 1979 NFC Championship Game. Williams improved each year and by ’82 was regarded as by far their most important player.
So what happened? Hugh Culverhouse…that’s what happened. As a starting QB in the NFL, Williams was only paid a measly $120,000 a year. This was the lowest salary for a starting quarterback in the league, and Doug was making less than 12 backups at the time. After the 1982 season, Williams asked for a $600,000 contract and Culverhouse offered up $400,000. 400K still would have made the playoff QB and franchise player one of the lowest-paid starters in the league.
So, Williams did what athletes have been doing since the dawn of professional sports, he left for more money and signed with the USFL. How’d that work out for the Bucs? The next year they went 2-14, and proceeded to miss the playoffs for the next 14 years. Oh yeah, and during that stretch they lost ten games in every season but one. That people was the gold medal move of free agent blunders.
Which one did I miss??