MMQB author Peter King caught up with Bucs general manager Jason Licht over the weekend for an exclusive interview on parting ways with kicker Roberto Aguayo, a player Licht traded up into the second round to select in 2016. You can read the entire MMQB article by clicking here.
Aguayo, who was the league’s worst kicker last year, connecting on just 71 percent of his field goals, was released after missing an extra point and a 47-yard field goal in Friday night’s 23-12 loss at Cincinnati.
Former Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“You never feel good when you shatter someone’s dream,” Licht told King. “That is always tough, especially someone you had such high hopes for. You don’t have good feelings about that. It is a little bit of a sense of, I don’t want to say relief, but we’ve ripped off the band-aid, and we move on. We’re moving forward.”
Licht told King that he’s owned up to the mistake. Tampa Bay’s general manager was widely criticized for drafting Aguayo last year, and those critics felt vindicated on Saturday and took to Twitter to let that be known.
“I’m owning up to it,” he said quietly. “I’m owning up to it by releasing him. It was a bold move and it didn’t work out. I don’t know what else to say. I know I have the support of my coach and my ownership.
“At the time, I was bound and determined to get the best kicker we possibly could. I thought Roberto had the chance to be a special kicker in the league for a long time. That’s a position that had been a rough spot for us. What did I learn from this? I’ve said this before, but when we took him, we essentially anointed him. If I could do it again, I would have gone back and brought in competition to challenge him. I look back on that a lot. Roberto is a great kid, but the magnitude of that position, and the pressure on a 21-year-old—his performance is affecting the lives of men who have families to support. That got tough.”
Licht told King that missing on Aguayo was not going to make him gun-shy in the Bucs’ war room in the future.
“Look, I want to digest this for a while,” Licht said. “But this is not going to make me afraid of making bold moves. You can’t make decisions, or not make them, based on fear. I will say that you have to learn from things that didn’t work out. Whatever that is in this case, we’ll figure it out.”
That’s good to hear. Licht is a risk-taker and a lot of his risks, including drafting quarterback Jameis Winston first overall and drafting offensive lineman Ali Marpet from small school Hobart College among others, have paid off well for the franchise. When it comes to the draft, the amount of Licht’s hits have far outweighed his misses thus far.
Veteran Nick Folk is in the lead to become Tampa Bay’s kicker in 2017, although the team did sign Zach Hocker for competition on Sunday.
Aguayo was claimed off waivers by Chicago, which plays Tampa Bay in Week 2. The Bears have former Bucs kicker Connor Barth on their roster. Barth made just 78 percent of his field goals last year. Tampa Bay has had seven different kickers since 2013.