Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has had his contract extended by one year through the 2019 season. PewterReport.com has confirmed the story was first reported by Ira Kaufman, a columnist at JoeBucsFan.com.
Licht, who was hired by the Glazers and former Bucs head coach Lovie Smith in 2014, had his contract option year for 2018 picked up by the team last year prior to his most recent extension. When Licht fired Smith following the 2015 season after going 8-24 in two years in Tampa Bay, he signed offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to a five-year deal to take over as head coach. Koetter delivered a 9-7 record in his first season as head coach before a disappointing 5-11 campaign last year in a season full of high expectations. A shoulder injury to starting quarterback Jameis Winston didn’t help, but Licht didn’t give the coaching staff enough horses up front to provide a credible pass rush, as Tampa Bay ranked last in sacks with just 22.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Licht has had more ups than downs in player acquisitions with the drafting of star players like wide receiver Mike Evans, Winston and linebacker Kwon Alexander – all of whom have been to one Pro Bowl – in addition to guard Ali Marpet, tight end O.J. Howard and others. Licht has also added key veterans in free agency, such as cornerback Brent Grimes, punter Bryan Anger, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, center Ryan Jensen and defensive linemen Beau Allen, Vinny Curry and Mitch Unrein, in addition to acquiring defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in a trade with the New York Giants.
Licht has struggled to find a consistent kicker during his tenure in Tampa Bay going from Connor Barth to Patrick Murray and others that have struggled to make field goals and extra points, including former second-round pick Roberto Aguayo and veteran Nick Folk over the last two years. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, has also struggled to make an impact and hang on to his starting job.
While many, including PewterReport.com, believe that Licht is coming off an outstanding offseason and has stocked the team with enough talent to win, especially along the defensive line and in the secondary with the drafting of cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in the second round, Winston’s three-game suspension will cloud the start of the season. Because Winston was the first overall pick in 2015, his on-field and off-field success over the next two seasons will go a long way in determining Licht’s future in Tampa Bay past 2019.