The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic related to the Tampa Bay Bucs each week.

This week’s topic: Why did the Bucs keep Jason Licht as GM?

Scott Reynolds: Licht Was Solid In 2018 With Personnel
The Ford’s Garage Pewter Poll question on PewterReport.com this week asked if the Bucs made the right decision to retain general manager Jason Licht for the 2019 season. With over 1,300 votes cast, 45 percent of the participants in the poll said “yes,” while 38 percent said “no,” with 17 percent were “undecided.” So Licht didn’t even achieve 50 percent when it came to fans approving that he stays on as general manager. The 55 percent that either didn’t approve or were undecided didn’t think he did enough to warrant running the team for one more year, so why did the Glazers think differently and decide to keep Licht around to hire the Bucs’ next head coach? That’s what we’re going to tackle in this week’s Pewter Report Roundtable.

We all know that the NFL is a “What have you done for me lately?” league. Look no further than Arizona firing head coach Steve Wilks after just one season on the job. I think the Glazers looked at what Licht has not only done since arriving as the general manager in 2014, but more importantly, what he did in 2018 when deciding what to do with him moving forward.

Licht did enough in the free agency period to warrant sticking around with the trade for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who became the first Buccaneer to record double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice in 2005. That, combined with a solid free agent haul that included adding center Ryan Jensen, defensive tackle Beau Allen and defensive end Vinny Curry, helped Licht’s cause. Throw in the fact that Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg were successful in locking up some key offensive stars in wide receiver Mike Evans, guard Ali Marpet and tight end Cameron Brate. Evans had his best year and is a Pro Bowl alternate, while Marpet played at a Pro Bowl level.

Bucs DT Vita Vea and GM Jason Licht

Bucs DT Vita Vea and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht’s 2018 draft didn’t make as an immediate impact as his 2017 class did with tight end O.J. Howard, free safety Justin Evans and wide receiver Chris Godwin, but by the end of the year it looked solid. The big reason was the emergence of first-round pick defensive tackle Vita Vea, who finished his rookie season with three sacks and 28 tackles in 13 games, which was exactly the same amount of sacks and tackles that both Warren Sapp and Gerald McCoy produced during their rookie years. Running back Ronald Jones looks like a bust after very little production as a rookie and not showing much promise, and the same could be said of cornerback M.J. Stewart – another second-round pick. But cornerback Carlton Davis, another second-rounder, started for most of the season and showed a good deal or promise, as did fourth-round strong safety Jordan Whitehead.

The 2018 draft class wasn’t spectacular, but it doesn’t look as bad as the 2016 class might turn out to be if cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence don’t come on in 2019. Throw in the fact that Licht was able to get some in-season help with the likes of waiver-wire claim Carl Nassib, in addition to the signings of linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Andrew Adams, who led the Bucs with four interceptions, along with kicker Cairo Santos, and you can understand why the Glazers liked the personnel moves Licht made in 2018. Even Koetter said on the way out of the door that talent wasn’t an issue for the Bucs this year.

Mark Cook: Ownership Needs The Help
It is one thing to conduct a search for a new head coach, but to go into an offseason without a coach and a general manager? That doesn’t seem to be a very enviable position for any NFL ownership group to be in. That isn’t to say the Glazers aren’t capable. They might be. They just haven’t been overly successful in their pursuit of either in the past.

The Glazers have their hands in a number of businesses, including ownership of the EPL soccer team Manchester United. Good or bad, they aren’t “Jerry Jones” type of owners. They don’t meddle, they shy away from the television cameras and aren’t interested in becoming the face of NFL ownership. Personally I think that is good, but it also maybe means they aren’t as plugged into the NFL scene as some other owners around the league are. I can’t say that with 100 percent certainly. Why? Because of what I just mentioned. The media only gets about 15 minutes of face time with them once a year at the NFL Owners Meetings.

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

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

Simply put, the Glazers need Jason Licht to spearhead the coaching search. Whether it is because of their own personal time constraints, a lack of confidence in themselves to make the right choice, or whatever, they weren’t prepared to handle both a head coaching hire and a general manager hire on their own.

Personally I believe Licht had done enough to warrant one more season. And I know half of you reading this think I am crazy. That’s okay. At least half my family feel the same way about me.

Coaches make mistakes, owners makes mistakes and general managers make mistakes. But at the end of the day, do they have more hits than misses? You could argue Licht’s overall record as GM points to more misses, but even the harshest Licht critics would probably say this team had more talent than a 5-11 team two years in a row. So was it coaching or the front office? Both share in the blame in my opinion. But I am one who most certainly believes this team should have won more games over the last two years and would lean towards coaching as the culprit.

Licht is under contract for another year. Jameis Winston is in the fold for at least one more year with his fifth-year option. Those two are married to each other – fair or not. If Winston is shipped off next season then Licht will be packing his bags also. But what if Winston lights it up, the Bucs make the playoffs and he is signed to a new long-term deal before the 2020 season? Had the Glazers replaced Licht this year, the 2019 Bucs team making the playoffs would be doing so with players mainly acquired by Licht. So would have firing him been fair?

The Glazers are rolling the dice for sure. They are gambling Licht hires the right guy and things get turned around quickly. I’d love to know if it was because they still 100 percent they believe in Licht, or was it out of necessity and fear of trying to hire two crucial pieces of an NFL organization? Who knows? But I guess I can try and get that question in during my 15 minutes with them in March.

Trevor Sikkema: Licht Is The Right GM For 2019
I already explained this in greater detail in my Cover 3 this week, but I really do think Jason Licht is the right man for the Buccaneers general manager job in 2019, specifically with hiring Tampa Bay’s next head coach.

If you remember, Licht didn’t hire Lovie Smith in 2014. It was actually the other way around and Smith worked with the Glazers to hire Licht. I’m not sure of the exact percentage of success for moves like that, but I bet it’s not very good. Then Licht really had to fire Smith and replace him with Dirk Koetter. He could’ve looked elsewhere, and while I do think he believed in Koetter, it made too much sense to keep the same offensive coach for Jameis Winston to ensure some consistency.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR

Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR

It didn’t happen because there was a disconnect between the players Licht wanted to bring in and the preference of some of the coaches on staff (not all Koetter). I think that disconnect played a big role in the disappointing records over the last two years. A new head coach with the correct chemistry with the front office can hopefully get this Bucs team turned around quick. I was talking to a Bucs fan the other day and they said the Bucs are “microwave ready” as opposed to “oven bake ready” when it comes to winning, and I really liked that analogy.

The Glazers also likely did not want to be behind the eight-ball when it came to hiring a coach, and if they had to search for an interview new GMs, they were going to be left out in the cold with some of the head coaches they wanted – likely their top choices. Timing is everything and with eight NFL head coach openings, hiring the right guy quickly is like playing musical chairs.

Licht is staying because of timing, and I think it’s the right move. He has one more year left on his extension, as does the QB he drafted first overall in 2015, Jameis Winston, with his fifth-year option. The Glazers did the right thing by bringing Licht back on a prove-it situation with a new head coach all while gauging the progress of Jameis Winston.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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DonkeyHunter
3 years ago

The continuing stance of Jensen being a good FA pickup is comical at this point.

tog
tog
Reply to  DonkeyHunter
3 years ago

It’s bizarre. I actually wonder if this is a little like agencies who cover the White House – you get your talking points and if you’re not a hard worker you just disseminate those.

I also like that they mention the positives of resigning of Brate to a big deal (where he had 289 yards) and Marpet (who probably had his worst year as a pro). Its good both were resigned, but boy is it selective.

shuster
Reply to  DonkeyHunter
3 years ago

I could say the same thing about a lot of Bucs players. I think a lot of times the fans (and the PR staff) greatly overrate our roster. I don’t think Licht had a great off season last year. JPP worked out well but honestly, you gave up a 3rd rounder for a guy who gave you one good year, but how much does he have left in the tank? That would have been a great trade if the Bucs were a serious contender and were going all in on 2018, but that wasn’t the position we were in. I… Read more »

mjmoody
3 years ago

I thought surferdudes was all over this already. You don’t go looking for a whole new front office & coaching staff while you also have a top 5 pick. It’s too big a task. Restrict your GM is a simpler solution. Gruden, Mayock, Raiders…Ya’know what’s going on there don’t you. Why not use Licht and his scouting department? Not to put too much on it, but why not use his connections as well. It’s not like he has to ask for BA’s phone number.

surferdudes
3 years ago

I did pretty much say what Mark, and Trevor said. Where I differ is Licht won’t be doing the hiring, that would be the Glazers. They will listen to Licht’s advice, but they will also review all the candidates, and make the final decision. Scott Reynolds I think is way out in left field, and seems to be Licht’s biggest apologist. No way can you convince me Licht has done a good job with the draft, or free agency. As good as JPP has played this year, it didn’t add up to one more win. He’ll be 30, at over… Read more »

tog
tog
3 years ago

Pewter Report LOVES the Bucs GMs. I remember the same thing with Dominik. It was “Grade A draft” almost every draft and love to the bitter end. Is it a source thing? They don’t want to throw away their relationships. We have Trevor saying they should keep Licht because he “cares”. SR really goes off the deep end lauding the 2018 roster which (justifiably) had 0 Pro Bowlers and went 5-11. Yes, JPP was a nice trade but citing Jensen, Curry, and Allen as strong FA pickups? Jensen is one of the worst centers in the league, Curry was replaced… Read more »

tog
tog
Reply to  tog
3 years ago

“Licht has grossly flawed huge principles.” = “Licht has grossly flawed first principles.”

dbenn2012
Reply to  tog
3 years ago

Doubt very seriously a GM in any organization decides who starts on game day.

matador
3 years ago

Reading SR’s rationalizations in some of these articles is like reading Tweets of a certain extremely high profile person (who shall remain unnamed) that make you question how he possibly could have said that. The idea Licht won them over with a draft less bad than 2016, and the actual concept of bringing back a GM with a horrendous 5-yr record on a one year ‘prove it’ basis is even more ridiculous than the need to do the same in year 5 of your #1 overall pick franchise savior/turnover machine QB’s career. Credibility is largely shot at this point. Can… Read more »

BigSombrero
3 years ago

I like the players Licht has picked when he’s picked them, with the exception of DJax and VHIII. His biggest perceived gaffes were celebrated widely at the time the moves were made. Aguayo: Aguayo was being compared to Tiger Woods. He had set the all time record for accuracy in college. He was a machine. He was local. He was the obvious scoring compliment to Winston, his college teammate. During the combine interviews, it seemed the kid was destined to be great at the next level. So confident. In 2014 OT Collins, DE Johnson, QB McCown, CB Verner were all… Read more »

Devasher
Reply to  BucWild02
3 years ago

Oh if only things were the way you said they were BucWild02, but Licht took heavy criticism for trading up for Aguayo and making him the fourth highest drafted kicker in the modern era (Janikowski, Nugent, Hansen) as well as by far the worst of the four. Mike Freeman reported on May 6, 2016 the following: “One general manager told me the selection was “the dumbest pick in the history of the draft.” That seems to be the consensus in the league. There are, however, outliers.” bleacherreport.com/articles/2636931-mike-freemans-10-point-stance-the-super-duper-drafty-edition?utm_campaign=tsipad&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=teamstream The pick was widely panned. So calling Aguayo, who hit only 80% of… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

https://www.patriots.com/news/combine-aguayo-gets-his-kicks-at-combine-256376

Devasher: You are wrong about Aguayo. There are multiple articles out before the draft about why the Lou Groza winner was coming out early and why he was going to be drafted in the top 3 rounds, maybe even as high as Janikowski was in the first round.

Devasher
Reply to  BucWild02
3 years ago

I literally cited what an NFL insider posted as the reaction to Licht’s pick after it was made in response to your statement: “His biggest perceived gaffes were celebrated widely at the time the moves were made.” and you tell me I’m wrong because you found an article around the time of the combine two months before the draft to support the idea that Aguayo in the second round would be hailed (it wasn’t). I really don’t know what to tell you beyond the fact that a fellow GM literally called it the “dumbest pick in the history of the… Read more »

Devasher
Reply to  BucWild02
3 years ago

The post draft press conference in 2016 is oddly tricky to get ahold of @BigSombrero but here’s a few articles and grades from the the draft at the time. Again, tell me how this meets up with your assertion that the Aguayo selection was hailed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2016/05/03/nfl-draft-best-value-picks-and-biggest-head-scratchers-for-every-team/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.daad32d7b354 “Head-scratcher: Do not even get me started on drafting a kicker in round two. Do not remind me they traded up to do it either. Do not. This was not a head-scratcher; this was gross injustice of the highest draft order.” http://www.bucsnation.com/2016/4/30/11543628/2016-nfl-draft-grades-fs-and-as-for-buccaneers-second-round-efforts “Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner named Roberto Aguayo as his single worst… Read more »

Devasher
Reply to  BucWild02
3 years ago

The post draft press conference in 2016 is oddly tricky to get ahold of @BigSombrero but here’s a few articles and grades from the the draft at the time. Again, tell me how this meets up with your assertion that the Aguayo selection was hailed: washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2016/05/03/nfl-draft-best-value-picks-and-biggest-head-scratchers-for-every-team/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.daad32d7b354 “Head-scratcher: Do not even get me started on drafting a kicker in round two. Do not remind me they traded up to do it either. Do not. This was not a head-scratcher; this was gross injustice of the highest draft order.” bucsnation.com/2016/4/30/11543628/2016-nfl-draft-grades-fs-and-as-for-buccaneers-second-round-efforts “Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner named Roberto Aguayo as his single worst… Read more »

Devasher
3 years ago

I honestly don’t know how much more Licht propaganda I can take @Scott Reynolds. It’s kind of laughable in a Baghdad Bob sort of way. I’ve made several points to challenge your or Trevor’s assertions over the past two seasons but alas as I am a lowly poster you simply ignore them and write as though the PR writers are in a protective bubble where soft points are made only to temper the criticism and support your friend Jason. Scott, I’d be perfectly willing to donate $250 to your site or a charity of your choice for the opportunity to… Read more »

Devasher
3 years ago

I honestly don’t know how much more Licht propaganda I can take @Scott Reynolds. It’s kind of laughable in a Baghdad Bob sort of way. I’ve made several points to challenge your or Trevor’s assertions over the past two seasons but alas as I am a lowly poster you simply ignore them and write as though the PR writers are in a protective bubble where soft points are made only to temper the criticism and support your friend Jason. Scott, I’d be perfectly willing to donate $250 to your site or a charity of your choice for the opportunity to… Read more »

scubog
3 years ago

Love the Baghdad Bob memory Devasher. His remarks were nearly as comical as our own BucAssBob’s. I am in Mark Cook’s camp on this issue. Surely, like us, the Glazer family is well aware of the multitude of Jason Licht’s, questionable at best, player acquisitions over his tenure. They also realize that it will be better if they maintain some semblance of continuity for a year as the new (and hopefully improved) coaching staff transitions. Plus, much of the scouting and player evaluation work on the Draft is already done. What new GM/Scout team would be able to come in… Read more »

cobraboy
3 years ago

Sikkema has it right: It’s all about timing. Hiring a GM and then hiring a head coach would take way too much time. The cream of potential HC candidates would already be skimmed.

The Bucs learned that the hard way when they fired Dungy so late.

DrT1066
3 years ago

GM s like Licht should be judged just like Head Coaches – on Wins. And he didn’t.

stlbucsfan
3 years ago

So to be clear you are saying that Lichts 2018 personnel decisions were good enough to warrant him returning? Well lets take a look at said offseason and show the people why that’s obviously incorrect. Is Vinny Curry worth the 50M we paid him? He had 3.5 sacks last year in Philly in a rotational role and had about the same amount here in a Full Time role, seems like another rotational player that we overpaid with the hopes that more playing time would equal more sacks, see Michael Johnson his first blunder, as prove that he hasn’t improved. Then… Read more »

Pewterpropoganda
Reply to  stlbucsfan
3 years ago

Agreed. This article is really disappointing. The premise of their argument (referencing Brate, Allen, and Jensen as good signings) is completely wrong. Listing those players under Licht’s “accomplishments” either shows they are beholden to him for some unknown reason, or they don’t understand football. It’s not like 2018 was his first bad offseason either. He has been absolutely terrible for a lot of years now.

Dman
3 years ago

Water under the bridge at this point. Characterizing his record on personnel decisions as anything more than a D+, C- isn’t credible and most of us on this board know that so why argue. I would have rather seen him move on, but for the rationalizations sited here, fine, let it ride for one more year.

Let’s hope Licht does a better job in 2019.

Buc stops here
3 years ago

I see this board is essentially anti-Licht. Fine. Who should have been called in a full house cleaning to become the next GM? Who really thinks it is a great idea to fire the GM and coach? The Giants did exactly this last year. Remember what they did this year? A train wreck. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/sports/football/Giants-ben-mcadoo-fired.html There is an interesting article that just came out on all the NFL GMs. They rank Licht 20th. Do you know why? They ask the simple question of each GM – is the team better before or after the GM came onboard? They said overall, the… Read more »

Devasher
Reply to  Buc stops here
3 years ago

Just to be perfectly clear @Bucstopshere5 the article only ranked 26 GM’s because they weren’t going to rank new ones and Jason came in 20th. 20 out of 26 puts Jason in the bottom quartile of the league (23%). The article was also written in April before this season and the Bucs second consecutive 5-11 record and firing of Mike Smith and then Dirk Koetter. If your best defense about Jason Licht is an article that ranks him in the bottom quarter of the league before we finished another wasted season and with several potential misses in the draft and… Read more »

Buc stops here
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

And you saw my point about the Giants firing both – and how well that turned out for them? Let’s see how the Giants do year 2. If they do a lot better, I eat my words. If they don’t, my point it made that you cannot fire both at the same time and expect to succeed.

Devasher
Reply to  Buc stops here
3 years ago

If you have a 5 year track record of building teams that are below average and there is no trend upward in team success, then you get rid of the people that did it. The NFL fires coaches all the time after 2-3 years of failure but somehow 5 years isn’t enough time to judge the man responsible for buying the groceries? The argument you make about the pains of getting new blood in to the front office and extracting the people who have us in a situation of consistent failure is along the same lines of “but what if… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB
3 years ago

Bringing Jason back this year tells everybody the nothing is going to change in Tampa Bay Buccaneer land more of the same old same old same old blah blah blah

Horse
3 years ago

Trevor, I’m glad you are creating a new web site (wise you have partners) focusing on the draft. Good for you! I know you are going to be very successful.

Good luck Scott, Mark, Trevor, and the new-bees. I’m going to continue to read and listen to PR, but I definitely reducing my posts which some will be happy to hear. I just don’t like all the insults back and forth among posters and I hope PR says something to some of the Posters who are just looking for attention.
.

scubog
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

Always enjoy your posts Horse. I hope you don’t disappear. Unlike the posters you referenced, albeit not by name, you are never juvenile, never egotistic, never political, always respectful, always open-minded, always thoughtful, always humble and most of all, you have a sense of humor who understands and maybe even appreciates my wit and sarcasm. Wish you, macabee, pinkstob and a few others were my neighbors. Would love to meet you and solve the Bucs’ problems.

Horse
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Thank you Scubog. I’m not perfect for sure and some of my comments miss the mark by a mile. We have enough problems in our country as to poor communication behavior and I don’t like to see it on PR sites as well. Some of this Posting is just getting out of hand and like other Web Sites need some stronger ground rules for some consistently ugly/negative posters who have nothing to say nice for just about anything on any PR Article. When some criticizes Owner, GM, HC, Coaches, Players, Posters, and it gets into their personal life or knocking… Read more »

Pewterpropoganda
3 years ago

I think you guys should disclose that you back up Licht because he is nice to you all and takes you out for food every once in a while. This article is honestly pure BS. No other way to describe it. Giving credit for signings like Jensen, Curry, Allen and Brate is an all time low for this website. We have the highest paid defensive and offensive line and they are a bottom of the league dumpster fire. He’s had some of the worst draft classes in the league. Mike Evans is the only player left from his draft class.… Read more »

a-bomb
3 years ago

I am confused by all of the vitriol towards the PR staff. I also think that some of you need to re-read the article. The premise of the article is they were guessing what the Glazers were thinking in their reasons for retaining Licht, not what they would have done or whether it was the correct decision. Some of you the folks on here just want to unload their anger on somebody.

Devasher
Reply to  a-bomb
3 years ago

Well you have a stock photo of a super bowl ring from 2002 as your avatar right? 2002 was the last season the Bucs won a playoff game (16 years ago) and they have now missed the playoffs for 11 straight seasons largely under the direction of two GM’s which is the second longest streak in the 32 team league to the Browns who now look pretty good.

So you’re right, I can’t possibly imagine why anyone would be angry about this. It defies reason 😉

Jonbuc
3 years ago

Licht’s 5 year run as Buc’s GM has yielded a .3375 winning percentage. It’s worse than Domink’s. He’s botched both free agency and much of the draft(s). I respectly disagree with the Holy Trinity of PR writers. :)

drdneast
3 years ago

BucWilde02, you must be suffering from the same memory problems that I do because every event you listed in regards to your examples are exactly how I remember then as well.

SenileSenior
3 years ago

Horse, I get what you are saying. I see even more nastiness among a certain percentage of fans at a PR competitor site which I will not name but will identify with the letters JBF. The level of rancor there is even deeper most of the time than what occurs here. We have some good discussions here at times and I actually learn a lot and even change my mind sometimes. I wonder whether what I see among Buc fans in general is typical around the country regarding NFL fans. Or is it because we have had such a long… Read more »

owlykat
3 years ago

You wouldn’t retain Licht to pick a HC if your target wasn’t Arians! So you Richards fans and those panting for a College Coach are likely outta luck. BA has turned around losing cultures in just one year twice and we need that bad right now. BA has had plenty of time since retiring to watch Jameis play and can easily see how the Buc’s OL is a huge reason for Jameis’ turnovers and he has connections to bring us a real OL Coach to fix that quickly along with who he will tell Licht to draft for our LT… Read more »