Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Scott Reynolds/PR
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.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Great, just one more major Aguayo reporting window with Hard Knocks then we are in the clear, no more Aguayo articles. Looking forward to that. heh.
Calculated risks are necessary. Glad that Licht isn’t intimidated by a failure. We all have’em. Without failure as a predicate to success, there is no success.
He took a gamble and it was a bad decision. He owned up to it. I’m sure he learned something from it. He’s done good job overall in draft and free agency. Time to finally move on for everyone. Aguayo was horrible but hopefully he finds his calling and doesn’t well in life. Seems like nice guy.
Meant hope he Does well in life. Damn phones
This was a terrible pick from the very beginning. No rebuilding football team should be wasting premium picks on a place kicker when there were plenty of others holes that required assistance. Licht does just fine when he sticks to the board, its those smartest man in the room moments that lead him astray. Gamble on guys with talent but slide due to injury or perceived character issues not the FBs, return specialists and place kickers like we have in recent draft memory. Nobody from this draft stands out as a wtf pick so maybe he’s trending in the right direction.
Any GM worth his salt has to have the courage of his own convictions in making decisions regarding playing personnel and Jason Licht has certainly shown that he is not afraid to make tough decisions, nor to own up to his mistakes, whether in the draft or free agency.
It is also clear from watching the interviews he has given during the last 3 drafts, that he is very meticulous and extremely diligent in his assessment of every aspect of a players personality and character, as well as his playing ability. Given the amount of time invested in these draft picks, the decision to cut Aguayo, who is obviously a good kid, will certainly have been a painful one. However it is undoubtedly the correct decision and I am sure Jason will learn from his mistake and be a better GM for this experience.
Despite this bust, Jason Licht’s drafting overall has been very solid and critically he hasn’t missed on his key first round choices. Evans and Winston were both outstanding picks and Hargreaves and OJ Howard hopefully will also prove with hindsight to be excellent selections. Plus, with Spence, Marpet, Alexander, etc, he has gotten some great value in the equally critical 2nd – 4th rounds.
Overall, in the pantheon of Buc’s GM’s, Jason is already close to, if not top of the list. Bruce Allen may have been a great ‘capologist’ but he was absolutely lousy as a GM regarding drafting playing personnel, so Jason is already streets ahead of him and Mark Dominic in that regard. Only Rich McKay can hold his head up in comparison with Jason and even Rich had his fair share of drafting mishaps! Consequently I think we should all support Jason for the excellent job he is doing in rebuilding this franchise and regard the Aguayo pick as an unfortunate aberration, rather then indicative of a negative trend.
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