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January 23, 2014 @ 4:09 pm
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5 Important Takeaways From Licht's Press Conference

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Jason Licht was introduced as the Buccaneers' fifth general manager on Thursday. PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds analyzed his initial press conference in Tampa Bay, and points out five important things that Licht had to say.
New Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht had his first press conference in
Tampa Bay on Thursday, and followed that up with an interview with the
Buccaneers beat writers. PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds analyzed Licht's initial meeting with the media and came away with five things
that stood out.

1. Licht Is Smith’s Hand-Picked General Manager In Tampa Bay

Much like how former Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen was hand-picked by Jon Gruden to replace Rich McKay in 2004 due to their previous working relationship in Oakland, new Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht has been hand-picked by head coach Lovie Smith. It’s rare that an organization hires a head coach before its general manager, but that was the case this year in Tampa Bay because the Glazers had a laser-like focus on signing Smith, who had a great reputation.

The Glazers wanted to make sure that Smith got a strong personnel man that he could work with, and Smith offered up Licht as one of the candidates because he had sat in on a meeting with Licht when he was interviewing for the Chicago general manager position in 2012 that ultimately went to Phil Emery. Smith sat in on the general manager interviews with the Glazers and had input into which candidate was ultimately hired.

“I had gotten the chance to sit with him in that same role up in Chicago,” Smith said. “I like what he said then. It’s funny how things turn out. When we came down here we got the chance to spend more time. Everything we brought up we discussed and we’re on the same page. Jason got a chance to meet with Bryan and Joel and it kind of took off from there. We like the direction we’re going.”

The difference between the perception that Allen was Gruden’s lapdog in Tampa Bay rsonnel from 2004-08 and the relationship Smith and Licht are bound to have is that there will be some healthy debates and that Licht will not be Smith’s “yes man.”

“No, he’s not a ‘yes man,’” Smith said. “We were looking for the best possible general manager we could get. A guy that knows personnel that has been in a lot of situations. As Jason said, his first year with [Arizona general manager] Steve Keim last year he got to sit in. He has a track record on personnel. You mentioned the coaches he’s worked with. Believe me, we took our time, which was the plan all along. We researched, and in the end, it was an easy decision.

“There were a lot of good candidates that I talked to and we talked to. All had a good plan, but I think you kind of know when it’s right for whatever reason. From the initial interview there were a lot of things we have in common with how we saw going forward and putting a successful team on the field. Every time we talked it just confirmed it more.”

2. Smith Likely Has Final Decision-Making Authority Over Personnel
The big question that was repeatedly asked to both Smith and Licht was who had final word when it comes to personnel decisions, whether it is control over the 53-man roster or draft day decisions. It was previously reported that Smith has final say over personnel, and that was one of the stipulations on becoming the Buccaneers head coach. What was said at Licht’s press conference did nothing to change that notion, but both men said too much is made out of who has the ultimate authority over the roster.

“We make decisions,” Smith said. “We went through the entire process and that’s how it was portrayed to everyone that came through. As Jason said, you don’t wait until draft day to argue about things. You’re going to discuss everything from who’s on the roster to why certain guys are playing to who we are going to pick, to what if we are going to trade? All of those things – they are group discussions. We are going to pull on any and all knowledge we can get. Yes, I do, to answer your question, but I think too much is made out of that. We’re going to be making decisions.”

Licht concurred, and said that there won’t be any draft day arguments in the Bucs’ war room.

“To me, that’s easy – on draft day, we’ll have all the answers figured out,” Licht said. “We’ll know who we’re taking. There will be no arguments on draft day. Going in to the draft – arguments are healthy. I’ve had arguments with every coach that I’ve worked for, and every GM. Some of them would be happy to tell you about them, I’m sure. We’ll have arguments on players. I’m going to plead my case. I told Lovie, during the interview process, that if he doesn’t like a player, I’m going to be in his office 20 times trying to prove why my player, that I like, is the guy that we need, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing. If we don’t come to an agreement, the answer is easy, it lies in itself - we won’t take that player.”

Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said he doesn’t envision any problems over personnel or power struggles because both men know each other, get along and share the same vision.

“You always hear about the power thing, and I always say, listen, they have to work together. If any organization gets to a point where we are pulling contracts out and reading fine lines, we have serious problems and that is not an environment that you can win in. You see any success in an organization and they’re working together. Each person has his say, and I’ve never seen it get to that point.”

3. Licht’s Role As G.M. Will Be Vastly Different From That Of Dominik’s
One of the more surprising revelations from Licht’s meeting with the Bucs beat writers after his initial press conference was the admission that he is strictly a personnel guy and a talent evaluator. He suggested that he would not be too involved in the salary cap and negotiating contracts with agents.

“During the interview I made sure when it came up for me to ask questions I made sure that I can focus on football,” Licht said. “Yeah, I’ll be advised on [the salary cap and contracts] but I’m a meathead that likes to watch football. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not. If you call me a scout I won’t be upset.”

Dominik’s role as Tampa Bay’s general manager from 2009-13 was multi-faceted. He did a lot of community relations work, a lot of media appearances and interviews, salary cap management and contract negotiations with agents, in addition to evaluating personnel and running the scouting department.

Currently, Mike Greenberg is in place as the team’s director of football administration and the team’s resident capologist. Licht will be evaluating all of Tampa Bay’s front office employees during the offseason to see which ones are worth keeping and for which roles he would like to bring in someone else he knows from around the league to work with.

“We’ll figure that out in the short term here,” Licht said when asked who would handle the salary cap and contract negotiations moving forward. “I have a plan in place already, but I just want to think about it a little bit. I just walked in the door.

“It’s a really small fraternity, as you know. I know everybody here. I’ve had some kind of dealing with them at some point, whether I’ve worked with them or been on the road with them and have some idea. But you never know until you work with somebody, and I think I’m going to give them the opportunity to show me that they will fit in what we’re doing, and if I fit for them. So I was part a holdover at one point in New England. When Pete Carroll got let go and Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli came in, they kept me and we meshed, and I ended up getting promoted a couple of times. If it weren’t for that opportunity I might not be here today. So I want to give everyone an opportunity.”

4. The Glazers Wanted A Stronger Personnel Man To Get Better Players
The hiring of Licht as the team’s general manager solely due to his strength as a talent evaluator and draft scout is a statement by the Glazers that they fired Dominik because the team did not acquire enough talent through the draft.

“The number one thing we were looking for in our new general manager was somebody that was all about football – scouting and a strong football background,” Glazer said.

“It was our view, and Lovie’s view, collectively, that we wanted someone whose background was really strong in football. [He’s] just a good evaluator, a good scout, and has a strong background. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the right players, who fit on this team to get on the field.”

For all of the good players Dominik hit on in his drafts with the Buccaneers from Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David and quarterback Mike Glennon among others, there were several blown premium picks, including former second-round picks, such as defensive tackle Brian Price and wide receiver Arrelious Benn in 2010, and defensive end Da’Quan Bowers in 2011, and third-rounders, such as cornerback Myron Lewis in 2010 and ultimately quarterback Josh Freeman, a first-round pick in 2009.

Licht described his philosophy as a build-through-the-draft kind of personnel guy and that he favored signing value free agents rather than go out and spend top dollar to import Pro Bowlers from other teams, as Dominik did with the signings of wide receiver Vincent Jackson, left guard Carl Nicks, free safety Dashon Goldson, and essentially trading for cornerback Darrelle Revis.

“Our philosophy is going to build through the draft – that is where we find our stars, that is where we find the next generation,” Licht said. “But also in the short term and long term, we are going to supplement our roster through free agency. But we are going to look for value. We are going to spend wisely. The better teams in the NFL that compete in the playoffs year after year are teams that draft the best and that is what Lovie, myself and our staff is going to do.”

This is a radical shift in philosophy at One Buccaneer Place was likely done for two reasons. First of all, Licht is right, and the Glazers know it. The Buccaneers had success in the past during the Tony Dungy era of drafting well and building a consistent playoff team through the NFL Draft. And secondly, for all of the money the Glazers spent on the premium players Dominik acquired, the Bucs had just four wins to show for it in 2013.

5. Smith Doesn’t Mind That Licht Has Never Been A G.M. Before
The fact that Licht doesn’t have any prior general manager experience didn’t bother the Glazers or Smith. The 42-year old Licht did get some valuable experience in doing more than evaluating talent while working with Cardinals general manager Steve Keim in Arizona.

“Last year was a tremendous experience for me,” Licht said. “I had a little bit of background in the past. Of course, you have to know the parameters of your salary cap and how you can fit things under it, but last year being Steve’s first year as a general manager – and promoting me two days later to his vice president – I got a front-row seat to all the ups and downs of a first year GM’s experience … It really makes you realize that it’s not always about signing the best players – it’s about signing the right players for your team. That experience, I think, was probably one of the best experiences I could have had to put me in this role today.”
Licht has worked with the likes of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli in New England; Nick Casario, Andy Reid and Tom Heckert in Philadelphia; as well as Keim, who helped guide the Cardinals to a 10-win season last year in Arizona. Licht’s track record of being a part of four teams that went to the Super Bowl was enticing to Smith.

“I think everybody has a first,” Smith said. “All you can do is prepare, and what better way to prepare than by being on successful programs like that. I think this is a natural, next step for Jason, and we plan on winning a lot of games together.”

Last modified on Monday, 17 February 2014 10:50

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  • avatar

    Iam sold on the way that Tampa bay is going-GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Jason Licht seems to be of the philosophy of spending money wisely; on finding players that fit the system; this sounds a lot like the Patriots. It was one of my criticisms since the Revis trade. I wanted Sean Smith; Sean Smith, imo, proved me right. And, Revis is proving to be great. I still would have gone the Sean Smith route. I certainly hope we keep Revis.
  • avatar

    I should also mention that I'm impressed by the overall maturity of Lovie Smith and the assitants/and G.M. and the Bucs right now. Not that Schiano wasn't; but, Morris wasn't all that mature imo.
  • avatar

    While Revis didn't fit our system originally you'd be stupid to pass up such a player. He's one of the few exceptions to the rule.
  • avatar

    Licht will fit well with Lovie and I like his approach. He is not going to repeat Schiano's blunder of depending on Glennon. He is going to bring in competition and play the best QB. If he gets that competition in the first round and gives each QB the same number of reps, Glennon will be the backup, where he belongs. He will rework our Offensive Line and probably trade off some of our underachievers and get us some more draft picks which we need, instead of trading down in the first round to get those draft picks back and missing a Franchise QB. There is going to be a lot of good talent in this draft and Licht will know it when he sees it . Hopefully, he will avoid bad character picks so that we can keep the locker room working together positively. We have plenty of good leaders on defense but we will have to develop more of them on Offense. I hope the new starting QB will be one of them!
  • avatar

    It seems to me that without an outstanding QB, we will be average. I do not care who you have on Defense or how many Pro Bowl players you have, it boils down to the QB. That's it! With that being said, we need to draft the best OB we can find. A great QB can get you to the big game. All the other things don't matter.
  • avatar

    hickey be gone , keep stokes and qurales, and the salary cap news is not all that good dom was not a very good gm
  • avatar

    I smell trades coming to pick up draft picks. The big question for me is how will some of our present players handle being told that they were over paid for their lack of performance in the 2013 season, and your contract needs to be re-negotiated?
  • avatar

    Like this guy, seems to have a small ego. It's not about him, it's about the TEAM. When he said " you can call me scout ", it's not about the title of GM.
  • avatar

  • avatar

    Licht needs to get rid of the rest of the old regime. Maybe the Fins will take Hickey as he is as bad as Dominik finding talent in the draft.
  • avatar

    For all the Dom lovers look at all the early round picks he blew, not to mention his top dollar free agent busts. Cap shmap, find the right players, it's about talent, let any lawyer, accountant figure out the money. That's the easy part for someone who's good with numbers, and contracts. So Jason, from one meathead to another welcome aboard. Now go get some talent!
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