Here are the 32 men who started at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the franchise began playing in 1976. Note: Not listed are John Reaves and Jim Zorn, who started replacement games during the 1987 NFL players strike.
Steve Spurrier (1976)
The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner, acquired in a trade with the 49ers for WR Willie McGee and LB Bruce Elia, still uses the 1976 winless season as banquet-circuit fodder. After a brief exhibition stay with Denver in 1977, he began his college coaching career on Doug Dickey’s staff at Florida. He is the all-time winningest coach at Florida and South Carolina.
Bucs record: 0-12
Bucs stats: 156 for 311 (50.2), 1,628 yds; 7 TD, 12 INT
Parnell Dickinson (1976)
The seventh-round pick from Mississippi Valley State in 1976 was brilliant in his only start, leading a 71-yard TD drive against the Dolphins. But his day ended early with an ankle injury, and torn ligaments later that season essentially ended his career.
Bucs record: 0-1
Bucs stats: 15 for 39 (38.5), 210 yds; 1 TD, 5 INT
Terry Hanratty (1976)
Selected in the 1976 expansion draft from the Steelers, his only Tampa Bay start was at Pittsburgh. He completed one of four passes for minus-1 yard, and the Bucs trailed 28-0 when he was pulled for Spurrier. Career done. Hanratty later made a Lite beer commercial.
Bucs record: 0-1
Bucs stats: 6 of 14 (42.9), 32 yds; 0 TD, 1 INT
Randy Hedberg (1977)
The cry was, “Why Not, Minot?’’ An eighth-round pick from Minot State in 1977, Hedberg started the 1977 opener, but the exhibition-game glow soon faded. He looked like a deer-in-the-headlights rookie — which he was.
Bucs record: 0-4
Bucs stats: 25 of 90 (18.9), 244 yds; 0 TD, 10 INT
Gary Huff (1977-78)
Acquired in a trade from the Bears for two second-round picks, the eternal claim to fame for the Leto High product was starting the first two victories in Tampa Bay franchise history. He finished his career as Joe Montana’s backup with the 49ers.
Bucs record: 2-4
Bucs stats: 82 of 174 (47.1), 1,058 yds; 4 TD, 16 INT
Jeb Blount (1977)
Claimed off waivers from the Raiders prior to the 1977 season, he was forced into the midseason lineup by injuries, but didn’t show much. Of note: Blount’s deep TD pass at Detroit bounced off the helmet of a wide-open, yet befuddled WR Isaac Hagins. It still makes the NFL bloopers highlights.
Bucs record: 0-4
Bucs stats: 37 of 89 (41.6), 522 yds; 0 TD, 7 INT
Mike Boryla (1977-78)
The former Pro Bowler, acquired in a trade, made his only Tampa Bay start in 1978. He departed after being sacked four times in 35 snaps — and never played another NFL game.
Bucs record: 0-1
Bucs stats: 2 of 5 (40.0), 15 yds; 0 TD, 0 INT
Doug Williams (1978-82)
A first-round pick (17th overall) from Grambling in 1978, Williams changed everything when he entered the lineup. A supreme leader with a big arm, he helped the Bucs to three playoff berths in four seasons. Williams jumped to the USFL in 1983 when Tampa Bay didn’t meet his contract demands. When that league folded, he wound up with the Washington Redskins and was MVP of Super Bowl XXII.
Bucs record: 33-33-1
Bucs stats: 895 of 1,890 (47.4), 12,648 yds; 73 TD, 73 INT
Mike Rae (1978-79)
Acquired in a trade with the Raiders, he was mostly a backup to Doug Williams — a mobile and dangerous scrambler.
Bucs record: 1-4
Bucs stats: 74 of 154 (48.1), 957 yds; 5 TD, 9 INT
Jerry Golsteyn (1982-83)
Two years after making $500 a game for the semi-pro Orlando Americans, Golsteyn was named the starter to open the 1983 season. He was pulled three games into that tenure. He’s mostly remembered for lights-out play in exhibitions (62.6 completion percentage, 1,028 yards, eight touchdowns, zero interceptions in eight games).
Bucs record: 0-3
Bucs stats: 47 of 97 (48.5), 535 yds; 0 TD, 2 INT
Jack Thompson (1983-84)
Acquired in a trade with the Bengals for a first-round pick, the Throwin’ Samoan never lived up to the promise that made him the third overall pick in 1980. A target of fan wrath, his biggest fault was not being Doug Williams, the winning act he attempted to follow.
Bucs record: 3-13
Bucs stats: 274 of 475 (57.7), 3,243 yds; 20 TD, 26 INT
Steve DeBerg (1984-87; ’92-93)
Acquired in a trade with the Broncos, DeBerg threw seven interceptions in 1986 opener. One season later, he opened with five TD passes in a 48-10 win against Falcons. He had decent stats, but mostly played for horrible teams. He signed for a second stint as 1992 free agent.
Bucs record: 8-29
Bucs stats: 813 of 1,414 (57.5); 61 TD, 62 INT
Steve Young (1985-86)
Acquired in the USFL supplemental draft, Young was woefully miscast as a drop-back passer. Later dealt to the 49ers for two draft picks, he became an all-time great — the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bucs record: 3-16
Bucs stats: 267 of 501 (53.3), 3,217 yds; 11 TD, 21 INT
Vinny Testaverde (1987-92)
The Heisman Trophy winner at Miami was the first overall pick in 1987 and debuted with a rookie-record 369 yards passing. But in his second season he had 35 interceptions (then second-most in NFL history) against 13 touchdown passes. When Testaverde’s six-year contract expired, he jumped to the Browns as a free agent.
Bucs record: 24-48
Bucs stats: 1,126 of 2,160 (52.1), 14,820 yds; 77 TD, 112 INT
Joe Ferguson (1988-89)
Acquired in a trade with the Colts, Ferguson was a stop-gap aging veteran brought in to mentor Testaverde. Along the way, he got three starts — and didn’t win any of them.
Bucs record: 0-3
Bucs stats: 75 of 136 (55.1), 901 yds; 6 TD, 7 INT
Chris Chandler (1990-91)
Acquired in a trade with the Colts for a 1992 first-round pick by coach Ray Perkins, perhaps trying to light a fire under Testaverde. Chandler never worked out, but played 17 NFL seasons for eight teams and led the 1998 Falcons (14-2) to Super Bowl XXXIII.
Bucs record: 0-6
Bucs stats: 95 of 187 (50.8), 1,021 yds; 5 TD, 14 INT
Jeff Carlson (1990-91)
Signed as free agent in 1990, his only start came at Soldier Field when Testaverde was hurt. Playing in a wind chill of minus-6 degrees, the Bucs managed 106 yards of offense and seven first downs in a 27-0 loss.
Bucs record: 0-1
Bucs stats: 31 of 65 (47.7), 404 yds; 1 TD, 6 INT
Craig Erickson (1992-94)
A fourth-round pick from Miami in 1992, Erickson was a popular, workman-like player who had some nice moments, including a four-game win streak late in the 1994 season. But he was deemed expendable, due to the presence of Trent Dilfer, and sent to the Colts for a first-round draft pick.
Bucs record: 11-18
Bucs stats: 473 of 882 (53.6), 6,094 yds; 34 TD, 31 INT
Trent Dilfer (1994-99)
A first-round pick (sixth overall) from Fresno State in 1994, Dilfer won a playoff game and was selected for the 1997 Pro Bowl, but he will always generate mixed reviews due to his on-again, off-again decision-making. He was not re-signed after the 1999 season, then won Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens — in Tampa.
Bucs record: 38-38
Bucs stats: 1,117 of 2,038 (54.8), 12,969 yds; 70 TD, 80 INT
Eric Zeier (1999-2000)
Acquired in a trade with the Ravens, he was a backup pressed into action when Dilfer was benched. Zeier lost his only start, then retreated to the bench with an injury and never started again.
Bucs record: 0-1
Bucs stats: 35 of 58 (60.3), 289 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Shaun King (1999-2003)
A second-round pick from Tulane in 1999, he was pressed into action when Dilfer was lost for the season with a broken collarbone. Known for his calm demeanor, King guided the team to a 5-1 finish, won a playoff game and nearly reached Super Bowl XXXIV. He started every game in 2000, including a 21-3 playoff defeat at Philadelphia.
Bucs record: 14-8
Bucs stats: 368 of 654 (56.3), 4,064 yds; 26 TD, 20 INT
The New Millenium
Brad Johnson (2001-04)
Signed as free agent in 2001, he was extremely accurate, a student of the game and immensely respected in the locker room. And it all came together in 2002, when he led the Bucs to a Super Bowl XXXVII championship.
Bucs record: 26-23
Bucs stats: 1,040 of 1,683 (61.8), 10,940 yds; 64 TD, 41 INT
Rob Johnson (2002)
Signed as free agent in 2002, he was the only QB never to lose a start for the Bucs. He won twice in the Super Bowl XXXVII season, including the finale against the Bears, which clinched a first-round playoff bye.
Bucs record: 2-0
Bucs stats: 57 of 88 (64.8), 536 yds; 1 TD, 2 INT
Chris Simms (2003-07)
A third-round pick from Texas in 2003, Simms got his break in 2005, when he replaced an injured Brian Griese and helped Tampa Bay to the NFC South division title. He was named the starter the next season, which began poorly. In the third game, he was knocked out with a ruptured spleen, an injury that required emergency surgery. He never played again with the Bucs.
Bucs record: 7-8
Bucs stats: 291 of 492 (59.1), 3,087 yds; 12 TD, 17 INT
Brian Griese (2004-05; ’08)
Signed as free agent in 2004, Griese put up big numbers in two stints with Tampa Bay, including a 407-yard game in 2008 and a 5-1 start in 2005 before suffering a torn ACL.
Bucs record: 12-9
Bucs stats: 455 of 694 (65.6), 4,841 yds; 32 TD, 26 INT
Bruce Gradkowski (2006-07)
A sixth-round pick from Toledo in 2006, he was a long-shot story who started as a rookie after Chris Simms was injured. He won two of his first three starts and played well in a near-victory against the Saints. He remains active in the NFL with Steelers, his sixth team.
Bucs record: 3-8
Bucs stats: 190 of 352 (54.0), 1,791 yds; 9 TD, 10 INT
Tim Rattay (2005-06)
Acquired in a trade with 49ers, he made a memorable relief appearance in leading the Bucs back from a 21-point, third-quarter deficit in Chicago, only to lose in overtime. He was named the starter for the 2006 season’s final two games, which he split, as the Bucs finished 4-12
Bucs record: 1-1
Bucs stats: 61 of 101 (60.4), 748 yds; 4 TD, 2 INT
Jeff Garcia (2007-08)
Signed as free agent in 2007, he was thought to be the perfect fit for Jon Gruden’s offense. He was a Pro Bowl selection and helped Tampa Bay to an NFC South division title, but the Bucs lost at home in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants. He split time in 2008 with Brian Griese.
Bucs record: 14-10
Bucs stats: 453 of 703 (64.4), 5,152 yds; 25 TD, 10 INT
Luke McCown (2005-08)
Acquired in a trade with the Browns, he had a 2007 highlight when pressed into action after Jeff Garcia was injured. He passed for 313 yards and two touchdowns, beating the Saints on the road and clinching a playoff berth.
Bucs record: 1-2
Bucs stats: 94 of 140 (67.1), 1,009 yds; 5 TD, 3 INT
Byron Leftwich (2009)
Signed as free agent in 2009, he was named the season-opening starter by Raheem Morris after beating out Luke McCown, but was benched during abysmal Week 3 loss to the Giants. A series of injuries eventually ended his season.
Bucs record: 0-3
Bucs stats: 58 of 107 (54.2), 594 yds; 4 TD, 3 INT
Josh Johnson (2008-11)
A fifth-round pick from San Diego in 2008, he took over as the starter in 2009, but lost four games as the Bucs (0-7) then turned to rookie Josh Freeman. Johnson saw spot duty after that, sometimes in the wildcat formation.
Bucs record: 0-5
Bucs stats: 96 of 177 (54.2), 1,042 yds; 5 TD, 10 INT
Josh Freeman (2009-present)
A first-round pick (17th overall) from Kansas State in 2009, he is four years into his NFL career and already has franchise records for single-season QB rating (95.9), single-season passing yards (4,065), single-season TD passes (27) and career TD passes (78). But the Bucs have registered losing records in three of his four seasons.
Bucs record: 24-32
Bucs stats: 1,101 of 1,873 (58.8), 12,963 yds; 78 TD, 63 INT