Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.
Having said that, it's worth noting that for the first time in the list's eight seasons, the Bucs won't have a player in the top 100. They've had at least three players make the cut every year since 2013, after having only two in the first two years the list was unveiled.
The Bucs aren't the only NFL team without a player in the top 100 — they share that honor with the Jets, Bears and Colts, who all finished with just four or five wins last season. The Jets and Bears didn't have any players in last year's list, either, along with the 49ers. It is based on player voting, which carries credibility, but a losing record can be hard to overcome.
"It goes back to us not being what everybody expected us to be last year," said Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, who made the list three straight years from 2014-16, ranking as high as No. 35 in 2014, but has now missed the list two years in a row.
The Bucs have had a bad record before and still had a presence on the list. After going 2-14 in 2014, Tampa Bay still had three players make the list the following summer.
Last year, the Bucs had three on the list (an average expectation, with 32 teams and 100 spots) in receiver Mike Evans (29th), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (52) and quarterback Jameis Winston (57). Evans saw his touchdowns drop from 12 in 2016 to just five in 2017, and Winston was limited by a shoulder injury, so their drops can be easily explained.
McCoy's absence is probably the most curious, as he was voted in for his sixth straight Pro Bowl and had made the top 100 list five years in a row, ranking no lower than 63rd in the past four years.
"I've seen other players complain about the list before, but the lack of respect for my teammates is actually laughable," McCoy wrote on Twitter last week.
I’ve seen others players complain about the list before but the lack of respect for my teammates is actually laughable. Hahaha I get it though. #NFLTop100— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) June 12, 2018
NFL Network will roll out the final top 10 on Monday, but you can safely peg nine of the spots: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Von Miller, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Todd Gurley, Le'veon Bell, Aaron Donald and Drew Brees haven't been ranked yet. That leaves one spot unaccounted for — Dak Prescott was 14th last year and saw a dropoff statistically while his Cowboys had much less success on the field. Perhaps David Johnson, who missed almost all of 2017 with injury but was 12th a year ago.
The league's 12 playoff teams account for 50 (maybe 51) of the 100 players, while the bottom eight in the standings account for just 10. Cleveland's only player is Jarvis Landry, acquired in the offseason, or they'd also have zero.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco recently put out his own top 100 list, and three Bucs made the cut there: McCoy at 55, David at 62 and Evans at 86.
As David pointed out, players like to be recognized by their peers, and the list is a by-product of team success, so if the Bucs can improve and get back to national relevance, recognition on these kinds of lists will come with that next summer.