GM Jason Licht spoke to the local Tampa Bay media, including Pewter Report on Wednesday from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Below is the complete Q&A.
On the offensive line:
“Dirk, and I and the rest of the staff, we’re not down on our offensive line. There are some things we need to do to clean it up, and the players would say the same thing. Have to cut down on the penalties, but overall we’re good. We’re happy with our offensive line. We’re in a good place.”
On bringing in older free agents:
“We look into everybody. If we found out someone is getting cut, we look into it. We keep everything fresh and updated. We watch tape on all these guys and every player has a value and you try to see if that’s worth entertaining. Most of the time it doesn’t match with what they want. We look into everything, but we’re not just going to sign players left and right that are getting cut from teams. That’s the best way to sink the ship.”
On using the draft more than free agency to improve the team: “We’ve done a much better job in bringing in the right “type” of guy. We have a much better vetting process, using our sources and resources better to find out more about guys. And that’s something that, in my first year, I should’ve done a better job with. I’ll be the first to admit that. Last year it worked out where we signed Robert Ayers, also drafted Spence; signed Grimes also drafted Hargreaves. In a perfect world, I’d love to do that. It doesn’t always workout that way. Bottom line is we want to get some guys, regardless of their age, that can help us in positions we need help at.”
Knowing you will need to pay Mike Evans soon, do you have the money to spend on a another high-priced receiver? “You can do that with any position. There are cases where teams will have two running backs who they’re paying, two tight ends they’re paying. I don’t think you look at it that way. You have to forecast for the future. The Glazers give us all the resources we need. We just need to make sure we’re getting the most return on our investments. You have to understand what the market is. What the market today is different than it was five years ago, and even last year. We’re not constrained by that. My goal is to eventually not be dabbling in free agency because we’ll be signing our own guys back.”
Is building around the quarterback a priority?
“We’re always trying to add playmakers; always. I won’t say it’s the sole focus, but it’s one of the focuses, yes.”
Is speed the biggest factor when looking to add a receiver?
“There are ways we can get better beyond focusing on one attribute. There are other ways to get faster on offense besides just the receiver position.”
Who are you building around on the defense?
“We have some great players on defense. We’ve got Gerald, we’ve got Kwon and Lavonte. We’ve got a young corner (Hargreaves) that we’re excited about in the future. I don’t think we’re building around one particular player on defense. Kwon is the signal caller, he plays every down. Lavonte plays every down. Even though we say Kwon is the Jameis of the defense, I wouldn’t say were building around him.”
How do you feel about the current pass rushers? Jacquies Smith? “Jacquies is coming along great. He’ll be ready for training camp. You always want to get better at pass rush. I don’t care how many sacks we had last year, you always want more. It’s definitely a position we’ll always look to upgrade or upgrade depth.”
Are there certain positions at the combine you like more than others? “Yeah, and it matches up to what we think are some areas we need help on our team, too. We like the running back class, like the wide receiver class, like the safeties, corners, it’s really deep at corner, tight ends, there’s more depth at tight end than I can remember in a long time, so, it’s a very deep draft. Everything is wide open. We try to make it so where need matches our value, but if someone’s standing out there like a sore thumb, we’re not going to be afraid pounce on it.”
Are you against moving up in the draft if you see a player slipping?
“If the price is right, you’ll always investigate it.”
How was your meeting with Doug Martin?
“Just good to see him. Our focus is on making sure he’s in a good place as a person. So, fortunately we have some time to make that decision.”
Did he complete rehab?
“That’s kind of confidential for him. But it seems like he’s in a good place and going in the right direction.
How do you feel about your current running backs?
“Jacquizz did a nice job for us. We’re going to work to get him back in the fold. We all like the upside that Peyton Barber has. Charles Sims was hurt last year for a lot of the year, so we’re excited to have him back healthy and, you know, we’re always going to be looking there, too. But we’re not desperate. Always looking, but not desperate. Especially in a draft where you think it might be deep there, you can get some good value.”
Thoughts on your tight ends? “We love the way Cam has come on. The way the tight end position is, it’s really two positions; you have the “Y” and the “F”, and the Y’s are hard to find. They are very few and far between, so that’s something that every team is always looking for; a guy that can block and a threat in the passing game. So you can have two very good tight ends. So, if you draft a tight end high or sign a tight end that has someone like Gronkowski already, that doesn’t mean that they’re unhappy with their starter. You need multiple tight ends; you can do a lot of good things with two tight ends.”
Is Christian McCaffrey an every down back in the NFL?
“Some teams will think that he is, it depends on how you use him. He has a very intriguing skillset on third and fourth down. He was an every down back for Stanford, so. I don’t want to exactly say how we feel about a player, but he’s a very good football player.”
How much emphasis do you put on the Combine drills?
“We put some emphasis into it. We watch all the tape from the combine, we look at all the data, but I like to have our board set up before we come here so we don’t get influenced by a guy had an unbelievable workout. He didn’t intercept any more balls between now and December, he didn’t make any more catches. He’s the same player on tape now than when you were evaluating, so this didn’t make him a better player because he trained to do all these things well. Now, we do use it, but when we’re siting up there in the box watching these workouts it’s hard to watch everything, so we watch the tape. But the most important thing here is the medical tests.”
Is your draft board set as of now?
“The board is set. It’s always fluid. Rankings may move here and there. I like to call it, “messaging the board” a little bit. But we’re not moving guys way up or way down.”
Do you think you will get some of your free agents back before free agency starts? “I know we’re having really good discussions. I feel confidence that both side are trying to get something done. Usually when both sides are trying to get something done, it gets done.”
Is Bradley McDougald a player you want back?
“All of our guys earned the right to be free agents. We’re talking with all of our guys. Some players just want to test the market, and sometimes it’s good for the club to let that player test the market. I don’t want to get into specifics with Bradley, but, we like Bradley, we like Chris Conte. We’ve talked about scenarios of having both of them back. There are a lot of variables right now.”
Will you be active in free agency?
“We’ll always use free agency to help build or supplement our team. But, it just depends. It depends on what the market is on certain guys. We’re going to track a lot of different guys. If it makes sense, we’ll do something. Out plan isn’t, ‘we have this bag of money so we’re going to spend all of it.’ We’re going to try to spend it wisely. Every penny that we save now, is money that we can put to use in the future.”
Is Jameis a big selling point with potential free agents?
“We’re finding out that he is a very big selling point. He has a contagious personality. Guys like to play with someone who is as competitive as he is and as passionate as he is. They just like it, especially at quarterback. Even guys on defense. Everybody knows about Jameis. He’s a fun guy to have as a teammate.”
Was the ESPN report of Winston wanting DeSean Jackson blown out of proportion?
“I think he has a rapport with a lot of different players. They all talk; they all get each other on Madden. They all get at each other some how.”
Will Vincent Jackson retire?
“If you can get a hold of him you can ask him that. We have a great relationship with Vincent. Dirk and I talked to him last week. He’s always going to be a Buc, in our minds. We’ll see what happens.”
How do you think the Mike Glennon situation will play out?
“I’ve made an offer to him. He’s going to test the market; he’s earned that right. We’d love to have him back. He’s going to have interest. I think he’s going to make as wise of a decision as possible.”
How do you feel about your backup quarterbacks?
“We do like Ryan Griffin, and we like Mike Renfree, too. When we got Griffin, both he and Renfree were both on our target list. Griffin became available and we got him, but it’s good to have competition there.”
On bringing in competition for Roberto Aguayo: “I think everyone can read the stats; Roberto wasn’t good last year. He’s going to work at it, and we still have confidence in him. But you’re always trying to get better.”
On not bring afraid to cut your losses on players underperforming:
“And I’m not specifically talking about Roberto, but the mistake would be being prideful and trying to make something work that isn’t. That’s the bigger mistake. It’s like hiring. If you hire someone and it doesn’t work, are you going to keep him or her on and bring you business down?”
How nice is it to have Mike Smith back as defensive coordinator?
“It’s awesome. He’s a great coach. I mean, it’s also great to have Dirk Koetter. It’s also great to have all of our coaches.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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