Tampa Bay Buccaneers Were Killed By Free Agency

Steven FinchCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2009

Bad times started straight away for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1976 the city was awarded with the franchise. The team started from 1976-77 with a dismal 2-26 overall record.

The quarterbacks of those two teams were none other than Steve Spurrier and Gary Huff. Both of them combined for 2,517 yards passing, 10 TDs, and 25 INTs. Dismal. Then fortune smiled upon them, delivering quarterback Doug Williams.

Doug Williams was drafted in 1978 and started right away for the lowly team. He delivered the team to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 1979, just two seasons after he came to the team.

Again in 1981, Williams led them to the playoffs, only to lose to the Cowboys in the wild card game. He was the man from 1978-82. Things were looking great for this lowly franchise until that fateful season in 1982.

In that year there was the players' strike, which forced the teams to play only nine games out of 16. Then free agency was born, and Doug Williams high-tailed it out of Tampa Bay for good. You all know Williams as the first African-American to win the Super Bowl and the MVP.

The overall record of the Buccaneers from 1983-85 was a disappointing 10-38, which saw the likes of quarterbacks Jack Thompson and Steve DeBerg. In 1984 the team drafted Steve Young out of BYU; that's right, you remember that he played there then.

Steve Young had an overall record of 4-28 from 1985-86 as a starter. Young was eventually traded to the 49ers after being dubbed a bust by the team; go figure, right?

In 1986 the team drafted Bo Jackson. How could that be? He never played for the Buccaneers. You're right, he didn't; instead of signing with the Bucs he opted to sign with the Kansas City Royals, then entered the draft the following year.

In the long run you could say that free agency could be the reason why the Bucs are in the spot they've always been. Without a viable quarterback, you cannot have a successful franchise. Since the NFL developed free agency, anyone not under contract can sign with any team.

Thus the Bucs lost their "franchise" quarterback because of their history. No one wants to play for a losing team. Instead of Williams winning a Super Bowl with the Redskins, he could have done it with the Bucs. We all know that one little change in the past could alter the future.

If it wasn't for the strike, would the Buccaneers be the team that they are today? Who knows. I think maybe?