About the author

Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he’s not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

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31 Comments

  1. 1

    Bucs Capacitor

    Thanks for the in-depth research and analysis as always, Trevor.

    I would love to see how Licht’s drafts compare to other teams, sepcifically in-division, as well as teams like the Packers and Patriots.

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    1. 1.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      I did a comparison between Licht and his NFC counterparts in one of my Cover 3’s back in May.

      LINK: https://www.pewterreport.com/cover-3-licht-vs-nfc-south-inside-film-bucs-te-howard/

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      1. 1.1.1

        Bucs Capacitor

        Thanks! Not sure how I missed it. Love your work!

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  2. 2

    Buc-Up

    Winston over Mariota at the time did and still makes sense. Mariota can’t stay healthy with a great OL blocking fir him in Tennessee. He would be hurt far worse if had to play behind our crappy OL. Hindsight, maybe I trade down to get a bunch of picks and take OL or DE. Take those extra picks to trade up to get Carson Wentz in 2016. Definitely don’t draft Aguayo!

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  3. 3

    e

    Compared to previous GMs, Meathead is getting the job done. No GM is perfect, but certainly, the Bucs are starting to reload with talent. It would be a huge mistake; and a typical one for the organization, to dump him and start in another direction. Let’s see some long-term consistency from this team for a change and it will start to pay off.

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  4. 4

    warrenfb12

    I believe in Licht and he needs an extension. I would also say that Noah Spence is a bust due to his injury issues. You may like his skill set, but they guy is fragile and can’t stay on the field so far. That’s a loss as it stands today.

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  5. 5

    tog

    I was more sanguine on Licht earlier in the season. I then started thinking about the totality of his decision making – and it’s not good. Licht is actually a bad GM when you look at his tenure here.

    You see that those first 3 drafts aren’t looking that good. Certainly, if Winston becomes the franchise QB everyone hopes that papers over a lot of ills, but so far its not looking like that will happen.

    And while Trevor is very positive on the 2017 class, and its looked good so far, it’s far too early to tell (as he knows). It’s one thing to look good in a limited role, it’s something else entirely to take that next step in 2018 and then again in 2019 to be consistently effective NFL starter.

    I wrote a long post detailing 25 reasons why Licht is a bad GM: https://www.pewterreport.com/forums/topic/seasons-end-send-the-turk-for-licht/

    I think two examples will suffice. First, Licht released Penn – a very good LT. To replace Penn, he spent huge dollars on Collins. Collins was a massive bust, so he then spent a premium pick (2nd round) on Donovan Smith. Smith is also a huge bust. So now the Bucs will need to spend more premium picks/cash to fix the position. All because of a self-inflicted wound in releasing Penn. On top of which, during these 4 years the Bucs have gotten bad play from the LT position.

    Second, Licht trades up too much and doesn’t know how to accumulate picks. With comp picks, the average team has 7.9 picks. Licht has averaged 6.5 picks over his tenure. Every GM is going to miss on picks, but to get around that you seek to accumulate picks. Licht, even though he’s drafted top 10 3/4 years has never been able to do this.

    And this is just part of why Licht is a bad GM. He’s not only bad at talent evaluation, he’s bad at all the other stuff that a GM has to do.

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    1. 5.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      I remember that post. It was really extensive and if you’re reading this and haven’t read that, you should (click his link above).

      Even if I don’t agree with all of your points, a lot went into it. I can see how you arrived at your points.

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      1. 5.1.1

        tog

        And that’s my point – the totality of it. Not that every point is correct (or everyone agrees with). I’ll definitely be wrong on some stuff. But it’s everything taken together. And I have a problem more with his philosophy and strategy more than his actual picks/signings. The picks/signings are an effect of bad philosophy.

        Re-read your C3 on comparing the drafts too. Funny how much is in flux in 9 games as a lot of the positive arguments (eg. Pamphile) and negative arguments (Loomis’ drafting) have changed. Things can move quickly in the NFL. Who thought the Saints would be one of the best teams in the NFL?

        You think (at this point) Licht gets extended?

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        1. 5.1.1.1

          Trevor Sikkema

          Yeah, man. It’s always a crazy flux. You’ll definitely be right on some of your points, though.

          Gun to my head right now I’d say he does get extended, however, with the record this year and Koetter’s lack of execution and everything with Winston up in the air, that’s a very fragile yes for him being extended. A lot has to play out.

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  6. 6

    a-bomb

    This analysis was helpful. Perhaps we have seen improvement in drafting and FA, but I am not sure a one year deviation merits that conclusion. The poor hit percentage on second rounders is particularly concerning, as we are feeling the lack of talent on the lines. My biggest concern is the perceived lack of an overall plan. It really seems like there was not a viable contingency plan for dealing with the depth problems at DE and the lack of talent on the OL. Moving Marpet turned out to be double whammy because it downgraded two positions. All in all, he has been average at talent acquisition. If I were the Glazers I might be inclined to give him another year- but I wouldn’t make a decision on that until the JW situation is resolved. If that goes badly then Licht probably has to go.

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  7. 7

    Naplesfan

    Your draft analysis is fine as is, Trevor, but it is nowhere near enough on which to judge a GM and whether he should be retained long term, given a short extension, or let go.

    A GM is responsible for many very important things:

    1) the draft

    2) signing free agents, and letting fee agents go

    3) managing the salary cap

    4) this one is sort of optional, because it doesn’t happen every year – hiring head coaches and approving the assistant coaching hires

    In each of these four responsibilities, I’d suggest the following grades for Licht

    1) Drafting – B minus

    2) Signing and letting go free agents – D plus

    3) Managing the salary cap – A

    4) Hiring coaching staffs – As of today, I give Licht a D-minus, but if we end up losing most of our remaining 6 games, as I expect we will, Licht gets a F minus

    If Licht fails on no. 4, then I would expect that the very best Licht can hope for is he gets a 1-year prove-it contract to see if he can work well with the new head coach that the Glazers surely will not trust to Lichts’ judgment again. It also will depend upon whether the new head coach still wants Licht, or would prefer someone else.

    If the result of the next 6 weeks is three or more wins, then Koetter may (but not necessarily, if the Glazers are intent on hiring Gruden again) keep his job, Licht will probably get a short term prove-it extension, and then it’s playoffs or off with their heads in 2018.

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  8. 8

    Horse

    Anything below 6 wins they’re all gone.
    6-7 wins they all get one more year to turn it around. I hate this carousel continuing, but quite frankly they all have major flaws and we will never get to the playoffs with any of them. Just my opinion.

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  9. 9

    nitey

    Okay,

    There are a lot of good thoughts here, but I think I see a few holes in some of the analysis.

    First, nobody but the Glazers and Licht know how much input/control Lovie Smith had over Licht during those first two years. Were those picks and signings Licht or were they Smith? Even if they were Licht, how much influence was Smith able to use to control the process? There seems to be a bigger difference in the first two drafts in terms of talent compared to the last two years. So can we totally blame Licht for those first two years?

    Second, at the end of last season, most here gave Licht passing grades, said that the coaching staff did a good job – now fans want to call the coach, the gm, many players on team busts. I know this is a what have you done for me lately industry, but calling failure on the team less than one season after calling success seems premature in my opinion. I agree that this season hasn’t gone well, but I really don’t think replacing the front office and coaching staff is the right move. We have constantly replaced the front office and coaching staffs without winning results. IMO, Licht appears to be trending upwards and again, while I’m unhappy with the current years won-loss record, I’m in favor of giving both one more year to show progress. I do understand this is likely to be an unpopular decision, but if we replace Licht with another new GM are we going to have to go through another year or two of the new GM learning on the job? Are we going to have have to live through another coach changing offensive and defensive schemes only to see the team flounder again because of unfamiliarity with another new system?

    Licht is not an elite GM, but there are no elite GM’s out there. I think we should stay the course for one more year and see how it goes. I remember that the Panthers were about 1 game away from firing Riviera after his team floundered in their first two years. I have to think Carolina is happy that they showed some restraint.

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    1. 9.1

      tog

      A lot of what happens though is time changes perspective. Licht (and Koetter) got passing grades for last year. But a lot of those grades were based on things that haven’t happened.

      For example, Pamphile has played quite poorly this year. Last year in limited duty he was an example of a good late-round find by Licht. Now he’s not. Or Winston – last year he was a clear franchise QB, not things are more uncertain. Or now VH3 is clearly not capable of playing outside CB.

      I take your point Nitey, but I think fans/media were too quick to crown Licht last year. I was arguing that even before the season started. It’s just like how the Bucs were predicted to be a playoff team. Fans and media just assumed these players would improve. It’s rarely that straight forward.

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      1. 9.1.1

        nitey

        tog,

        I get what you say, maybe the fans were too quick to place a crown on Jason’s head, but can’t you say the same thing about this year? Surferdudes mentions that we failed to draft DL or OL in the last draft, but the early returns on the first 4 picks has been good. People all the time say ‘draft best player available on your board’ clearly Howard fell into our laps and was the best player available but I suspect we planned to take OL or DL with that pick. Same for Godwin in the 3rd. The Bucs had a 2nd round grade on him and probably projected a different player there at that point.

        Winston has not progressed this year as we expected, but he’s hardly been the reason why this team has failed this year and as Scott pointed out in his last Fab 5, neither Jason or Koetter said that the team was playoff ready this year although I suspect they felt that the team was better than it’s turned out to be.

        JMO, but I don’t think changing out the FO and coaching staff this year needs to be done, I think we have good coaches but we still lack talent. I really want to let the coaches have one more year of talent acquisition before moving on. There IS some talent on this team, but it lacks consistency as much as talent.

        Fans and ownership needs to give them that time to fix what didn’t work this season.

        Again, JMO, YMMV .

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      2. 9.1.2

        Naplesfan

        It takes a minimum of four seasons to truly judge any GM, unless he is just flat out obviously failing in all respects before that. You can’t really judge any draft class until at least 3 years after it goes. You can’t judge free agents within less than one year, in most instanced a couple of seasons. And one substandard draft class or FA signing, once fully judged, does not define a GM – it takes at least two or three such “classes” to develop a trend line.

        So if people like me believed and said that there was no basis on which to fire Licht last offseason, as many of the commenters were demanding (and still demand today), that was clearly premature.

        Now, we are about to finish another full season, Licht’s fourth, and there WILL be sufficient trend line to judge his performance. But not yet. Six more games can make a huge difference in evaluating not only the coaches and players, but also the GM.

        I’m satisfied that the Glazers will have enough to decide by the end of Week 17. What that decision will be, depends entirely on the results between now and then, along with everything else that has gone on before.

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    2. 9.2

      Trevor Sikkema

      I will say that I have heard there was a bit of friction between guys Licht wanted to pick talent wise and guys Lovie didn’t want because they “didn’t fit what he wanted to do.” Not to totally shift blame or anything, but that element did exist, as it does for every G.M. and coach.

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  10. 10

    surferdudes

    He stayed pat with respects to both the O, and D lines this past draft thinking, D. Smith, Pamphile, N. Spence, would make the leap to greatness. That didn’t happen. We can’t run the ball, or get to the Q.B. yet again. With a deep class of R.B.’s he stayed pat yet again, banking on Martin returning to form,throw in the fact he was suspended for the first 3 games that looks like a mistake, not to mention what they’re paying Doug. Godwin,and O.J. are players, but since we had, Brate, Evans, it seems like he drafted what we already had. I said this when the article on how many wins would it take to save Koetters job. The fact that Licht didn’t, or as I believe wasn’t allowed to do anything before the trade dead line, and hasn’t gotten a new contract, the Glazers are going to fire him, and Koetter at years end.

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  11. 11

    Buc 1976

    In 2014 – 2016 Licht had picks in the top 10 2014 #7 2015 #1 and 2016 #9 respectively .
    He traded to #11 in 2016.
    Any GM should be ble to get talent picking in the top 10 every round.
    In 2017 picking 19th he may have done the best but it was also considered a deep draft.

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  12. 12

    matador

    Trevor always doesn’t excellent work. As other posters have pointed out, two aspects of,this decision, beyond the plentiful whiffs drafting and in FA, that say to me Licht must go are –

    the failure to address the team’s overall needs holistically (i.e., you can’t draft BPA adding WRs and TEs when you have so many holes in your lines)

    the fact he was usually drafting high and still managed to whiff on 5 out of 6 picks the first year, 4 out of 7 the next (keeping JW in the plus column for now) and possibly 7 out of 7 (5 of 7 at best) the next, leaving the most recent draft in the TBD category.

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  13. 13

    matador

    Sorry that was supposed to say ‘does’ not doesn’t, damn auto fill. Have sung Trevor’s praises many times…

    I would still love a look into our scouts. That could be the weak spot. Who would come or stay here with the revolving door we have at One Buc?

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  14. 14

    plopes808

    Looking at his track record, Licht has improved a lot over his tenure in Tampa. Sure, there’s been a lack of production relative to expectations, but I truly believe that has been more on the coaching staff than a lack of talent. Clearly, Licht has learned from his past mistakes and hasn’t been afraid to correct those mistakes.

    Moving forward, I believe we should stick with Licht and look at changes in the coaching staff. Not necessarily cutting Koetter, but handing playcalling duties off to an OC. One option would be demoting Koetter to OC and hiring another HC. But the more likely option would be to bring in a new OC to take over the offense, freeing up Koetter to focus on his HC duties.

    We need an offensive playcaller that can play to the strengths of our players. The talent is there, we just need someone able to recognize and unlock the team’s potential. Koetter was an excellent OC, but as a HC he may have too much on his plate at the moment.

    On the other side of the ball, Mike Smith’s defense seems to be turning the corner (knock on wood.) For whatever reason, his defense seems to take a while to start humming. There have been a lot of injuries but I feel most of our problems on defense were a matter of lack of raport. Now that Smith has stopped the situational rotation, the team seems to be building a raport and has performed better.

    There are many that will disagree and continue to call for the head of Koetter and Smith, but I think the worst thing we can do right now is start from scratch with the coaching staff. I believe we should stay the course with Licht and look at adding a qualified OC rather than blow up the coaching staff.

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  15. 15

    GoldsonAges

    You cant give Licht credit for the salary cap because Mike Greenberg is completely in control of the cap and contracts.

    If you judge him on player personnel he falls short of greatness. He is below average. Below average doesnt build a winning team.

    I encourage everyone to read Togs post. He lays it all out and it’s not pretty.

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    1. 15.1

      Naplesfan

      You have to give Licht credit for the salary cap because it was Licht who hired and supervises Greenberg, and it is Licht who makes the decisions that actually manage the salary cap. He’s the boss. He gets the credit or the blame.

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      1. 15.1.1

        Trevor Sikkema

        Right.

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  16. 16

    scubog

    It’s so hard to judge GM’s on their Draft success or failure. What seems like either a good or questionable choice at the time is often a totally incorrect evaluation. GM’s are criticized for making a choice when every other GM likely would have made the same one. We then all look in the rear view mirror and exclaim, “What was he thinking?” as if we knew something they didn’t. In my opinion, if a player becomes a starter he’s not a “bust”. Yes, if a player like Hargreaves or Donovan Smith doesn’t become an immediate star, some might call him a disappointment because so much more should rightfully be expected, but he’s not a “bust”. Here in Bucville we know busts. Roberto was a bust. Dexter Jackson the wide receiver was a bust. Jackie Walker was a bust. Booker Reece was a bust. Sabby Piscatelli was a bust. Charles McRae and Kenyatta Walker were disappointments. Had our share of those too.

    Like all GM’s, Jason Licht has had some good and bad results. I think he is in the middle of the pack with his choices. His demise will be because the team is still floundering in the bottom half of the league as an end result of his tenure. I think the Glazers will wait until the end of this season and decide if after four years is the future of the team any brighter than when the Licht was switched on or is the Licht dimming. Right now it doesn’t look like we need to grab our shades unless it is to disguise ourselves for being Bucs fans.

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  17. 17

    surferdudes

    Just read Tog’s old post, couldn’t have said it better myself. When Licht is fired, and he will be, his tomb stone will say the G.M. who traded up for a kicker. I like Mike Evans, but a three tech like A. Donald only comes along so often. Even with McCoy on board think of the havoc those two could’ve produced. You build a team from the front to the back, Licht has been miserable at that. Godwin was a good pick, but we have Evans. To me they’re the same player. I would trade Evans for picks before giving him a huge contract. The money saved, plus the picks could fill many wholes on this team. I would shop Brate this off season also, we got O.J., and Auclair, I’m not paying Brate having spent that 19th pick on O.J.. Trade down, not up, the Patriot way. It’s going to take a new approach to turn this around. Licht has done more harm then good, time for a change.

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  18. 18

    johnny

    how can you not count pamphile as a good pick by licht when you just said day 3 picks are basically just throw aways and whatever you get out of them helps… pamphile has been a starter on this team for 2 straight seasons yea he hasn’t shown the promise he showed at times last season but still discounting a 5th round pick who is a starter for this team when you had just previously said day 3 picks usually don’t get you much , i just don’t understand that logic.

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  19. 19

    devasher

    Let’s be clear Trevor, Jason Licht “earned” a top 10 pick, including number 1 overall in 3 of his first 4 drafts by putting awful teams out there. He isn’t hovering around the Buccaneers Dominik (Mendoza) line in winning percentage over 4 seasons because he knows how to build a winner. Starting with top 10 picks and one top overall selection makes building through the draft an easier task than say trading your first round pick away for a mercenary corner (Dominik/Revis) or picking late in the draft as the good teams do.

    Regarding the 2016 NFL draft, it is looking likely to be a bust and leaving the team with a possible long term nickelback and ST player to show for it. The comment about Noah Spence being a steal because of where he was picked is absurd. Noah Spence at this point is an injury prone, undersized speed rusher who will have averaged 3 sacks a year in his first two years. There is a solid chance Noah Spence will never become a long term starter on this team or make a second contract, which would ensure this as one of the worst drafts of the Bucs modern era. Where Noah Spence was picked is irrelevant, it’s no more of a “steal” that DaQuan Bowers was considered a top 10 pick before the bucs selected him, than it is Noah Spence. If you can’t produce in the NFL you aren’t a steal. Period.

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  20. 20

    rob roy

    The 2014 draft was a disaster IMO. If Licht could have thought “outside the box” and drafted Aaron Donald or Odell Beckham JR. the impact would have been huge. Then to draft ASJ who ends up injury prone with a drinking problem when Marquise Lee, Stephon Tuitt and Davonte Adams are available? Then the Charles Sims pick over Devonta Freeman? In 2016 Licht drafts a 5-10 CB with the 11th pick followed up with an undersized DE with a questionable past? Aguayo should have been the straw that broke the camels back. Did we need to draft OJ Howard? No. Should we have re-signed Alterraun Verner? Yes. Akeem Spence? Yes. Swaggy? No. Kaelin Clay? Yes. Donald Penn? Yes. Please lose the remaining games and try to trade a player for a high draft pick. Go after the best FA’s available. New HC and GM, then the team has a chance to compete next year or be ready for more of the same.

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