Surviving one coaching change as a general manager isn’t easy to do in today’s NFL. Getting a chance to work with three head coaches is almost unheard of.

But Bucs’ general manager Jason Licht is on his third head coach in Tampa Bay, despite just one winning season (9-7 in 2016) and two back-to-back 5-11 disappointments. Licht’s record 27-53 since he was hired by the Glazers and former head coach Lovie Smith in 2014.

PewterReport.com asked Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer on Tuesday why Licht is still in charge.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and the Glazers - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht and the Glazers – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“One thing we do know in the NFL, too much instability doesn’t lead to success,” Glazer said in an exclusive with PewterReport.com in the courtyard outside of the Arizona Biltmore on Tuesday afternoon. “And we have had our share of instability over the last several years. And with Jason – obviously Jason is not happy with what our record has been the last few years – but when you look at our team and you look at our drafts, there have been positives. We have had a lot of players we drafted, re-sign, and we have a good nucleus of players. So at the end of the day we felt the consistency in that was important and will ultimately lead to success.”

Part of what might have saved Licht’s job is his prior relationship with new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians from their days back in Arizona in 2013. Licht recommended the hiring of Arians to the Glazers and was able to lure him out of retirement and come to Tampa Bay. Glazer talked about some of the attributes Licht possesses, and relationship with coaches was one of them.

“He has put together a good personnel staff, he is good at articulating to everybody of what we are trying to accomplish,” Glazer said of Licht. “He has good perspective when it comes to the team. And I think the key has been working with the head coach. I think he has had excellent ability to work with our coaching staffs – it is partnership ultimately – and if those two people aren’t on the same page working well together than it is always flawed. So he is also a good people person.”

PewterReport.com asked Glazer if Licht is under contract beyond the 2019 season.

“We have always left our contract discussions between the two of us,” Glazer said.

Licht’s future is ultimately tied to winning football games this season, and while everyone talks about the importance of 2019 for quarterback Jameis Winston, who was Licht’s first-round pick at the top of the 2015 NFL Draft and is in his fifth-year option, is just as important for the Bucs general manager.

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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 [email protected]

26 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sure the owners of the Titanic were confident in their captain too.

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  2. Oh Goody! Maybe we’ll trade up in the first round to get another kicker!

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  3. @surferdudes lmao classsic

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  4. In fairness to Jason Licht, Lovie Smith was already on board when Licht was hired. Koetter was a shoe-in to replace outdated Lovie Smith because he was instrumental in Winston’s early development and offered some continuity. Koetter was also a media darling as OC. After Koetter’s first year, and a 9-7 record, Koetter never really transitioned into a ‘take charge’ head coach that could help his team take the next step. Koetter’s plan to take the offense to the next level with Desean Jackson failed. Koetter’s plan to win with friend and former boss Mike Smith also failed the Bucs and Jason Licht.

    As a GM, I have little doubt in Jason Licht’s ability to identify what the coaches want in a player and execute their vision. I also think most of us take for granted his positive relationships with players and straight forward contracts. No holdouts. No players bashing Licht and the front office. No cap problems. He’s made some great trades. He’s made some great acquisitions. Licht has also developed his staff of scouts and pro personnel very well. They have identified players deep in the draft, after the draft and veteran players who may become available that can help the team. He helped mentor Jon Robinson, now the GM with Tennessee.

    I hope the Bucs do well next year. I hope Bruce Arians is successful and Jason Licht is retained. Licht’s mistakes may be the stuff of folklore, but surviving those gaffes and succeeding in spite of them could break the circle of failure and misery.

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    • No Cap Problems! That’s rich. Might want to check your facts. Jon Robinson was mentored under Bill Belichik from 2008 until he was hired by the Bucs in 2013. Lovie was hired in 2014. Licht had Robinson for 1 year when he left for Tennessee. When Jon figured open what a train wreak Winston was he bolted. Now he’s build a quality team that is working on 3 consecutive winning seasons, a playoff Berth and a playoff win. I kinda wished we had promoted Jon Robinson as GM over Jason Licht.

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    • No cap problems? We don’t even have enough space right now to sign our draft picks…after two consecutive 5-11 seasons so it’s not like we have a lot of great players to justify all that money spent.

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  5. BigSombrero, you are so right when you speak about Koetters trust in Mike Smith eventually leading to his demise.
    That’s why u should never hire a friend unless yo know in advance you have the inner fortitude to fire him.
    But Koetter wasn’t the only person swayed by Mike Smith.
    Most all I f the media gushed about Smith after the second half of his first season.
    Almost everyone of them spoke about how important it was and how fortunate the Bucs were in keeping him here.
    Fast forward 18 months and they all conveniently forgot how glowingly they had all written about him.

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  6. @drdneast I remember the same thing. The media was definitely on board 💯. Same thing with Koetter hiring. Same thing with Schiano firing, inspiring billboards over their lack of team access. Same thing with false adulation @geraldini93.

    Where’s the critical thinking? 🤔

    I ain’t mad tho. Fun watching the tail wag the dog.

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  7. Right BucNnole, where’s everyones sense of humor? Can’t believe 7 negatives, don’t take this shit so serious guys, laughing is always better then crying, and lord knows Buc fans have shed some tears.

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  8. Hey man…I gave a thumbs up. I enjoy your sense of humor and your perspective, especially when it’s different than mine!

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  9. Well sure, I mean he’s done so well….

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  10. Stop, Mark. Lovie brought Jason on, and Jason was stuck with Dirk. Bruce doesn’t come here without Licht. I’m not a fan of the guy either (Vita over Derwin will haunt this franchise for years), but he never even got to pick his own coach (other than BA I guess). He’s on a one year deal, one more chance.

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  11. The bucs have been losers and Light has been in charge.. other team that are winners and in bucs same division have cash to spend ..STOP making excuses for the 5 years of failure for the bucs gm!!!

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  12. Hopefully they mean this just like Bruce meant the whole “Desean is coming back” lie he told during the combine. Bruce is the beer, Licht is the foam around the rim we can’t get rid of.

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  13. The results on the field will ultimately decide Licht’s fate. Most of us could cite the surprisingly inept Lovie Smith and his weak staff as well as the nearly equally dubious Dirk Koetter and his group of assistants as at least being partially responsible for the poor showing.

    Bruce Arians and friends arrive with instant credibility. Bruce believes the roster, assembled by Jason Licht, is at least good enough to “win now”. We’ll see if this duo can succeed. Another 5 dash 11 season and the Glazers will have little choice than to employ the nuclear option. A winning season and many will claim BA as the one who salvaged Jason Licht’s job and give the GM little credit, unable to purge the Roberto catastrophe from their memory banks.

    It’s going to be interesting to watch.

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  14. Priceless no one person here is holding the Players accountable. Yes coaching matters to some extent. Everyone is bashing Lovie Smith as a bad coach. He was hung out to dry by his QB and his OC after the 2016 season. Nobody remembers the final 4 games.
    Saints- 4 consecutive Punts to open game. Only 7 points scored in 2nd Half. Yup that was Lovie’s Fault.
    Rams- Rams lead 28-6 after 3qtrs. Bucs make up 17 garbage time pts and lose by 8. Anyone remember Winton being 5 yards past the line of scrimmage attempting a Pass? That was Lovie’s Fault for sure.
    Bears- Winston had a Interception in the Red zone and a last minute score made the games closer than it seemed. This one was partially on the Defense as Bucs were leading 14-13 after 3. 2 Martin fumbles and Winston’s Interception doomed that game.
    I won’t even mention the Panthers game as everyone quit in that game to end the season.

    Lovie actually had this team moving in the right direction until Winston threw the Defense under the bus in his season ending press conference and Koetter was suddenly a Hot Head Coaching Prospect. The Glazers panicked and fired Lovie to keep Dirk. Big Mistake. Huge.

    The biggest problem with the sons of Malcolm Glazer is they aren’t football savvy. They think like a business more than a sport.

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  15. @libucsfan93 The Bucs are not saddled with dead cap money. If they were, that would be considered a cap problem. Which free agent should the Bucs have thrown big money at? Arians didn’t bring in big name high priced vets in AZ. He brought in Carson Palmer…Carson PALMER.

    Regarding Licht mentoring Jon Robinson…Both Licht and Robinson mentored in the Patriots organization. Licht then mentored Jon Robinson for a year before Robinson was hired to helm the Titans. The Titans success stems from key players that were in Tennessee before Robinson. Also, the AFC South is the worst division in football and is the easiest to win.

    Regarding Lovie Smith…Where to start? Let’s start at the record. 2-14 and 6-10. He comes to Tampa and hand selected QB McCown, LT Collins, CB Verner and DE Johnson to turn the team around. That went so well, 3 of 4 players were gone the next year and the Bucs had the first pick in the following draft. His defense finished 22nd or worse in all major categories both years. How about the nepotism? Hiring his sons to coach secondary? How about the hiring of Jeff Tedford?? How about stripping Lezlie Frazier of playcalling and it stayed just as bad? Bad clock management?

    To say Koetter and Winston threw him under a bus is rich. Lovie was a mess from the very moment he became the HC.

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  16. Seriously all the failed FA signings were all Lovies picks. You complain about Winston, but who picked him? It isn’t often a HC picks his GM, that was all Lovies team. The HC is ALWAYS responsible at the end of the day…

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  17. Hate to break this news to you but Lovie was a terrible head coach. Lovie system was severely out dated and like Koetter he was too stubborn to adapt or change. The best thing Lovie ever did was hire Licht who would eventually fire him.😂 lol

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  18. The Glazers are so bad at running this team. They sound so simple minded when they speak:
    “One thing we do know in the NFL, too much instability doesn’t lead to success.”
    – We’re not being successfully now! So the Glazers would rather have stable failure and ineptitude than instability?!

    “…but when you look at our team and you look at our drafts, there have been positives.”
    – All 32 teams in the NFL have positives in their drafts every year…and negatives. If your pass/fail criteria is simply based on having positives in the draft why are you paying your GM millions of dollars. Anybody could find positives in the draft based on the law of averages. Now, good NFL owners would have higher standards and set criteria for draft success based on how many positives your team has had in the draft relative to other teams. How you evaluate that? Win-loss record of course.

    “We have had a lot of players we drafted, re-sign, and we have a good nucleus of players.”
    – The meathead that’s re-signing players is the same meathead that signed them in the first place! It’s a clear conflict of interest if they are using re-signed players as a sign of team success and growth. Of course Licht is going to re-sign the players he originally drafted and signed if that’s the metric the Glazers are using for success in Licht’s annual performance reviews. Finally, if we had a good nucleus of players they would have made the playoffs at some point. It can’t be the coaches fault every year if we’ve gone through 4 coaches since we last made the playoffs.

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  19. @pinkstob Bucs don’t have any draft picks yet. When they eventually pick them, they won’t need to sign their them until July. The Bucs are #1 in the NFL in “dead cap”. They only have $96k in dead cap space. The Dolphins are worst and have $37.5 MILLION in DEAD CAP SPACE. THAT is a CAP PROBLEM…

    Cap is determined by the top 51 salaries. Every time a more expensive player is signed, it pushes another player’s salary down the list. For example…Sign a new player for $1 million, the 51st highest paid player who is making $600k gets pushed to #52 and there is a net increase of $400k going against the cap.

    Signing 7 draft picks at a $9.2m cap cost will push $4.5m worth of salary down the list. So the Bucs really only need $4.7 million to sign all the rookies.

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  20. You and I simply have different definitions of cap problems. Yes, dead money is awful and a sign of poor management. But so is paying so much money to players that have gone 5-11 the past two years and never made the playoffs as Bucs. The Colts just made the playoffs and have more cap space than anybody. They have a lot to look forward to and I don’t see us getting significantly better with these coaches and the players we’ve added thus far. We’ll get better in the draft but so will everyone else.

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  21. The real “dead cap money” is a roster that is full of players who consistently produce losing seasons, along with their coaches and the front office people who pick them. If after consecutive 5-11 seasons and we still barely squeak by under cap, with insufficient room to sign the draft class, the entire salary pool is dead, effectively.

    Teams that have little to no cap room, but have also been consistently producing playoff caliber teams, well, we all know it’s difficult to keep your best players when your best are very good. Yet we are struggling to keep our best players who frankly aren’t very good – consecutive 5-11 seasons state that emphatically.

    Light has the worst record as a GM since the last one before Rich McKay, worse even than Dominik, and everyone agrees he was terrible.

    Finally, as stated by Scubog:

    “The results on the field will ultimately decide Licht’s fate.”

    Obviously, that is NOT true or Light would have been fired two years ago.

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  22. Damning with faint praise –

    “…when you look at our team and you look at our drafts, there have been positives.”

    And this is right out of Office Space –

    “…So he is also a good people person.”

    What a sh— show. Reminds me of where we were with Freeman his last season; worst case scenario is 9-7 which sticks us with a $100+ million contract for Winston and several more years of Bust Licht’s incompetence. If this is going to work it’ll be completely due to BA

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  23. Love all you Licht haters. Did he sleep with your wives/girlfriends, or are you just haters? We’ve had MUCH WORSE than Licht in the GM hot seat. He’s not perfect but he has much more positives than negatives, and the Glazers like him – last i heard they own the team, so perhaps you should find a new team???

    Go Bucs!!!

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