During an interview on Monday with the Buccaneers Radio Network, Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht talked about all things surrounding the offseason, as the team starts the process of turning around a 2-14 year.
From the 2015 NFL Draft preparation, to last year’s successful evaluation of Mike Evans, to the emergence of young players on the current roster, it was clear that Licht sees positive signs heading into 2015.
“There are some players, without even talking about Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Clinton McDonald and we can talk about a few more later (Bradley McDougald, Charles Sims, Gerald McCoy etc…), but there’s a big upside here with this team,” Licht said. “Everybody in the locker room knows it.”
But among the excitement of upcoming events and praise of various players, Licht also spoke about the importance of free agency, and getting it right. It’s no secret that the Buccaneers had a few key misses in March of last year – Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins – and Licht didn’t deny or make excuses for that.
“Looking back on (free agency) last year, we had some hits and we had some misses,” Licht said.” We are going to be wiser in our decisions, and we’re going to make sure we’re spending our money wisely, too.”
That being said, Licht made a point to say that the foundation of a team always starts with the draft. Nevertheless, the front office and coaching staff will do their due diligence when it comes to evaluating NFL players who could be poised to hit the market, too.
“Well I guess I’ll answer that by saying this,” Licht said. “Our primary way of building this team is going to be the draft. I think I said it on my first day here, that’s where we find our stars; that’s where our future is built and nothing has changed there. That’s the way we’re going to work moving forward, and we’re especially excited this year that we have a high pick, the highest pick that you can have. That’s going to help our team immensely.
“I always want to learn from my mistakes (in free agency),” he continued. “We did this together as a staff, but I’m the one held accountable; I am the general manager so I need to do a better job.”
As Licht alluded to, at this time last year he was still a personnel director with the Arizona Cardinals. Now, with almost a full year as GM (hired Jan. 21, 2014) under his belt, having a complete understanding of the Bucs strengths and weakness as well as a good relationship with Lovie Smith, fans should have reason to feel more optimistic about his offseason decisions this time around.
And while there were a few successful hits in free agency, including some players that started to come on strong towards the end of the season, Licht singled out Clinton McDonald as an example of who they’re after.
“We’re going to find more Clinton McDonald’s,” Licht said. “We’re happy with a lot of these guys, but Clinton McDonald just kind of stands out to me right now as a guy who’s very passionate, wants to play football, and wants to help the team win. He comes from a winning environment, and he’s the type of guy that we want to be a Buc. Those are the kinds of guys that we want moving forward.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he’s handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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Memo to Licht: “I’m the one that’s held accountable” does not mean “I am accountable.” It is a whiny way of complaining that other people hold you accountable even though you really should not be considered accountable (because it was a staff decision and not really your fault).
Almost no public figure takes responsibility for their actions these days — it has become the norm to dilute statements of accountability this way. Still, it’s an annoying sign of lack of character in my book. Just say you whiffed several times this year and you have learned from your mistakes and will do better this year. Don’t dilute your responsibility for last year or blame it on your staff.
I think as a rookie GM he has done okay. Yes Collins was a big miss. If Johnson agrees to take a pay cut I believe he can stay with the Bucs. Lets face it the guy wasn’t in football shape and when he got here the injuries got him. I bet if he gets another chance you will see a better player. bowers is another one who might get motivated with the right kind of contract. They both need to stay in Tampa Bay and work out here mostly with their fellow Bucs. I know many of the players have specialist work with them off season with a technique or two.
I’m behind Licht 100 percent, He is in his second year with a new scout dept. which has to be better then Duminik and Hickey. If you miss here and there I see no problem, no GM hits on all his picks. With a new coach and GM in their first year with a all the time it takes to assemble a staff and get to the draft IMO they did a pretty good job. The real grade will be this year’s draft and after two years we will know what we have in a coach, staff and GM. The. ground work it almost laid, all we need is a QB and a few more pieces and we should rule the South Division. Being a Buc fan it’s hard to say but have faith!
Worrying to me is that his philosophy is starting to sound very Schiano-esque…”those are the kind of guys we want” vs. “there are going to be Buccaneer men”….we don’t need any more as hisno-isms, just draft and sign good players please!
Let’s be clear, Licht had a horrible year. Start with the O-line – he dumped Zuttah, Joseph and Penn – all are better players than guys he replaced them with. Big miss. Johnson is a miss. Verner – so-so. Draft – Evans, great. Austin S-Jenkins – not great, Tim Wright is a better player. Charles Sims, good pick. No one else notable. Not blaming him for McCown – that’s on Lovie, but with our O-line how much better would Brady have done. Gets points for DE Smith and Lansanah. But where it counts, up front, he had a bad year – period.
I’ve been somewhat critical of Jason Licht only in the sense that during the season fans were placing all of the “accountability” at the feet of Lovie Smith. I believed otherwise. I’m sure as a new GM, Jason wanted to show respect to his personnel and coaching staff and listen to their Free Agent evaluations. This is a good practice if those providing that information are worthy. I’ll give Michael Johnson a pass this time for the injuries that set him back and I think Verner is solid. I also think some of the relative unknown “street” free agents brought in after the season started showed some promise. But whoever (Warhop?) was behind those offensive line choices both free agency and perhaps even the Draft, should be sent to his room to gather his things and make a bee line out the rear exit.
The Tampa 2 requires a MLB who can cover over the middle (and stop the run) . I like Mason Foster, but he just was a few steps slow in coverage. A few steps will kill you in the NFL.
I don’t have an opinion of Jason Licht. Primarily because I can’t tell where Lovie leaves off and the GM starts. Knowing the imperial hubris of Coach Smith, I suspect it’s fairly far down the line. Building through free agents is what gets you to 2-14.
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