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.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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