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FAB 1. Licht Has Unprecedented Level Of Trust From Glazers

Congratulations are in order for general manager Jason Licht for getting his second contract extension from the Glazers. After his four-year deal expired in 2018, the Bucs owners picked up his fifth-year option last season.

Did Licht deserve the extension or not? That’s debatable, but I’m not going to spend time on opinion in this column.

I’ve already analyzed Licht’s personnel record in a previous SR’s Fab 5 column, and you can decide for yourself if you like the free agents and draft picks he added this offseason or not, and whether his contract extension was warranted or not.

Instead, let’s examine some facts.

Licht became just the second Bucs general manager to sign an extension under the Glazers’ watch – the other being Bruce Allen signing a three-year extension with one year remaining on his contract in 2008. Allen’s contract extension coincided with Jon Gruden’s three-year extension – and we all remember how that ended.

Despite the contract extensions, Allen and Gruden were fired after missing the playoffs in 2008 after going 9-7 for a second straight season – and paid handsomely by the Glazers for three more years not to run the Bucs organization anymore.

When Licht was able to lure head coach Bruce Arians out of retirement in January to replace Dirk Koetter, the Glazers signed him to another five-year contract, which is a four-year deal with a one-year club option in 2023. Arians signed a similar contract with Tampa Bay – four years with a one-year club option – so the futures of the two men are synced up.

Right or wrong – this makes Licht the longest contracted general manager since Rich McKay, who occupied that role from 1994-2003.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

For some fans who look at the current roster and see a talented team that has underachieved in recent years and believe in Licht’s vision for the Bucs, they are either relieved he’s still at the helm or rejoicing.

For those fans that look at Tampa Bay’s dismal 27-53 record since 2014 and blame Licht, his extension was disheartening.

There might be a perception that Licht is on his third head coach right now with Arians, but it’s actually his second. Former Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith actually hired Licht to be his general manager in 2014. After seeing Smith produce just eight wins in two years without much hope for the future, Licht did the right thing and fired Smith.

There was some logic in promoting Koetter to the head coaching role in 2016 after he served as the offensive coordinator in 2015 and helped rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and running back Doug Martin make the Pro Bowl. Licht and the Glazers wanted continuity for Winston and the offense, which flourished statistically under Koetter’s three-year reign as head coach, especially the passing game.

But Koetter’s undoing was his questionable hires on his coaching staff, including offensive line coach George Warhop, defensive line coach Jay Hayes, who was fired after two years, and defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who was fired in his third season after the modern game of football had clearly passed him by. I called for both the firing of Hayes and Smith, and in both cases, the team did the right thing.

Koetter got off to a good start and came close to making the playoffs in his first season as head coach, going 9-7, which was the only the second time in Bucs history that a head coach had a winning record in his first year. The other was Gruden, who went 12-4 in 2002 and took the Bucs to its first and only Super Bowl victory.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and former HC Dirk Koetter
Bucs GM Jason Licht and former HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But the team’s shortcomings on defense, and injuries and inconsistency from Winston, as well as a struggling ground game, doomed Koetter’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

Licht’s decision to fire Koetter and move on after back-to-back 5-11 seasons was certainly the right call.

What this extension does suggest is that the Glazers trust Licht more than they’ve ever trusted any Bucs general manager they have employed. Even more than McKay, who helped construct a Super Bowl champion team but could not appease Gruden or get a long with him well enough to stay in Tampa Bay.

Even more than Allen, who was the general manager for Bucs teams that posted three winning seasons and two division titles in his five years in Tampa Bay despite managing the salary cap mess that McKay left for him in 2004. Certainly more than Mark Dominik, who was the first general manager they actually hired on their own after inheriting McKay, as Gruden essentially hired Allen, who he knew from his days in Oakland.

Licht is not nearly as accomplished as McKay or Allen, as he has not presided over a playoff team in his first five years in Tampa Bay nor has he won enough games, yet he’s poised to be on the Glazers’ payroll for a decade.

That’s trust.

The Glazers trusted Licht when he said it wasn’t the talent that he signed and drafted – and that it was Koetter and his assistant coaches instead.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Glazers trusted Licht when he said he could get Arians out of retirement and that Arians’ staff would be full of quality assistant coaches, including some in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich that could be Arians’ eventual successor.

So far, many of Licht’s underwhelming draft picks that have been labeled “busts” by some in the media and some in the fan base – including cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, outside linebackers Noah Spence and Devante Bond, running back Ronald Jones II and right guard Alex Cappa among a few others – have looked like completely different players in training camp and the preseason under Arians’ watch – or at least are beginning to look like competent players.

Maybe Licht’s right about the talent and the coaching.

Maybe Licht wasn’t crazy to draft another kicker in Matt Gay, the team’s fifth-round pick, who has looked good in camp and the preseason thus far, and is the current favorite to win the job.

That’s what the Glazers are counting on – that Licht will finally have the right coaching staff to develop some of these underperforming players, and that his draft record will suddenly look a heck of a lot better as a result.

They’re also counting on Licht’s franchise quarterback, Winston, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, to be developed by Arians and Leftwich and deliver the Bucs to the playoffs this year, too.

It doesn’t help Licht that the Bucs play in the rough and tumble NFC South division, and that the NFL schedule makers royally screwed Tampa Bay and have even admitted it.

The Glazers are impatient. They want to win now. That’s why of the last four head coaches, no one has lasted more than three years at the helm.

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

Everyone wants to see the Bucs return to the playoffs – it’s been since 12 years since they last made the postseason in 2007 – and Licht is at the top of that list.

Licht has gained an unprecedented level of trust from the Glazers, but history shows that their faith and trust in general managers and coaches can turn on a dime depending on wins and losses – regardless of the money owed or the length of the contract.

At age 66, Arians was brought in to win now. He said at his initial press conference he’s not here to rebuild. Arians also said that there was no reason to rebuild – that there was enough talent on the Bucs roster to win this year.

No one in Tampa Bay needs to win now more than Licht does to keep the faith.

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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: [email protected]
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EastEndBoy

“disheartening”…the understatement of the century.

“The Glazers trusted Licht when he said it wasn’t the talent that he signed and drafted”….this just in: the Glazers also trust gaggle of turkeys claiming that Thanksgiving has been abolished by Trump in favor of a real American meal called Burger King.

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EastEndBoy

🙂

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stlbucsfan

Licht being extended is more than disheartening it’s foolish. You don’t blame Jason Licht for drafting the wrong kicker, you blame him for doing so in the 2nd round. You don’t blame Licht for moving on from Dirk after his 2nd 5-11 season, you blame him for allowing Mike Smith to return for the 2nd 5-11 season. You don’t blame Licht because his draft picks were “not utilized correctly” since they were drafted, you blame Licht for allowing a system to be in place for SEASONS that does not benefit the players he’s drafting. Not to mention this flood a… Read more »

liquidmuse3

Fair points, but again (& I’m surprised Scott isn’t playing it this way): Bruce wanted this, so it happened. Think of Jason as just being demoted, simply a guy to bring players to Bruce to knock down or sign off on. Dirk and his staff were clearly barely professional coaches, and Jason in my mind was sort of forced to hire him.

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twspin

I could add more about the..Benedict Arnold Licht. But stlbucfan..You did a great job in summing it up here.

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arizonajoe

I actually am in favor of Jason Licht. I believe he is a quality GM. I didn’t like the Hargreaves pick, thought he was too small (but he is looking good under Bowles so far). And of course the Aguayo pick was terrible. But every GM makes mistakes even Rick McKay (when he was in TB his picks were often criticized and his cap management wasn’t good). But Jason has made some hits too (Spence is looking good, OJ, Godwin, Marpet, Evans, many others). I thought the Koetter hire was to try to keep a great Offensive Coordinator in house… Read more »

arizonajoe

Yes, I know it’s Rich McKay…

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Sector2814

“After seeing Smith produce just eight wins in two years without much hope for the future… “ And the year after that they went 9-7. His first year was 2-14 and his second year was 6-10. I know those aren’t great records but the trend was going up with Smith. It still occurs to NO ONE that maybe we should’ve let Lovie stay the course and the 9-7 record was more because Lovie had input on most of the personnel decisions for the team. Koetter had no clue on how to run an NFL team. The fact that he started… Read more »

cgmaster27

There was zero reason to keep love and anyone who thinks that is crazy. You enjoy watching your archaic defenses get shredded at a 70% clip? You enjoy your coach correcting a player for swearing in a pregame speech? Love was inept and if you have any doubt , just look at Illinois the last 2 years.

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chefboho

Agreed my dude. The only time Lovie was ever relevant was because he had a good defense in Chicago using an outdated system that was getting shredded while he was here in Tampa. Plus Lovie NEVER had a top rated offense. Get out of here with that garbage. As cg said, just look at Lovie I’m college. His team is getting destroyed week in and week out.

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cgmaster27

Well I’m kind of torn with licht being resigned. He has had a few real good picks and hes is pretty good at getting undrafted guys. And no gm is without fault. Lichts, just happen to stick ouy, I’m looking at the kicker picks ofcourse. But we all knew the only reason licht is still here is because he got us Bucco Bruce. As for tonight’s game ,let’s get put of there healthy, but I’d like to see at least 1 quarter from the starters. On a side note, anyone watch Gerald get pushed all over the field last night?… Read more »

Itch

I am not sure the Glazer’s trust means much (other than his job). They have serially made some really crap choices in coaches and GMs. No one in the NFL looks at them as guru’s of leadership talent. I believe in Arians, but Licht has made some seriously questionable bets over his career.

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liquidmuse3

He was basically forced to hire Koetter, let’s admit it. So Bruce to me is the first Licht head coach.

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Itch

I am “itching” to see if Hall shows up tonight and see if Miller makes a mark. The need for speed to stretch defenses is a must for our success. I also want to see if Hudson can lay down a run breaking block for RJ or our other backs.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

As long as the NFL shares revenue with bucs and the fans from Bucs opponents pay the bills, the Glazers get paid the same as a winning team why would they care who the GM is. The rest of us live in a real world and do not understand the real reason Glazers what Licht. In the real world income is based on performance,this team would have gone bankrupt years ago, and newc owners that were smart would buy it 02 cents on the dollar. However this is a rigged league where incompence does not matter. Standings do not matter… Read more »

DT25

A bit torn re-signing Licht. I’ve been pretty stout that coaching was likely an issue hurting the play of many of our young players, and it appears that could be correct with this new staff coming in and immediately improving the play of many players fans had written off as busts. But I still want to see more…and giving him 5 years so early in the season seems like pushing all the chips in with a solid flop but a weak hand (for the poker players out there). It could still get better, and very well might, but there’s reason… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Hard to argue with any of that @Die Hard. @arizonajoe, I respect that you are seeing the good in Licht – optimism is a good thing, especially around Bucville. What I would say, and have said on PR previously, is that we shouldn’t judge Licht (or any GM) by whether or not the players he drafted turned out be significant NFL players. There is a mountain of evidence that says (no matter which GM you look at) that the draft is a lottery, and the large majority of players wash out (it’s what happens when you’re picking 20-ish year olds… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Hard to argue with any of that sector2814. arizonajoe, I respect that you are seeing the good in Licht – optimism is a good thing, especially around Bucville. What I would say, and have said on PR previously, is that we shouldn’t judge Licht (or any GM) by whether or not the players he drafted turned out be significant NFL players. There is a mountain of evidence that says (no matter which GM you look at) that the draft is a lottery, and the large majority of players wash out (it’s what happens when you’re picking 20-ish year olds to… Read more »

surferdudes

The legend of Scotty Miller continues. This time S.R. has him making the team on what he did in OTA’s, underwear football, that’s laughable. If Watson at 6’2″ 200 lbs has trouble blocking, what’s Miller going to do at 5’10” 170 lbs? Miller belongs on the practice squad if that, not the final 53. Justin Evans is another Buc legend that has done nothing but be injured. Will he ever be healthy enough to contribute? So far NO! Benenoch is playing better at tackle, but not good enough to keep Jameis alive should he be pressed into action. Let’s hope… Read more »

Spitfire

Tonight will definitely be a good test for us. More so for the Offense since Vea and David are still out, it will still be good to see how the Secondary does if it isn’t negatively affected by the Dline play. I just want the season to start already. In the end we won’t know if this coaching staff will be great or if Winston will finally prove himself or if Bowles Defense will hold up with all the youth, until we play for real. I will say that I have a good feeling the team won’t fall apart and… Read more »

twspin

This..along with a few other reasons are why I don’t get my pitties tied up in a bunch over football anymore. Sure I watch. But you come to realize we as fans really have no input into how the team is run. We..are on the sidelines placing our faith in Mngt and ownership. And Pray..they make the right decisions. And this team has been failing miserably for over a decade with zero playoff appearances. I still favor my Bucs. No I am not crazy about them like I was in my youth. Every year its a..new hype.I am very cautiously… Read more »

Dman

This is a great Fab 5 Scott! My only comment regarding Licht and Glazers the team is worth hundreds of millions of dollars more today than when Malcom Glazer purchased it. Malcom Glazer was a winner, was determined to and built a championship team. We miss him. The current Glazer generation simply isn’t on the same level. Add the sheer value of the team to the equation and I just think their happy with the status quo. Winning is a nice to have but not a must have for them. I like the updated roster prediction, but expect we will… Read more »

Horse

So based on Arians statement the Browns will tell us a lot tonight, I will gladly eat my words Gholston and Spence bring nothing to the plate; haven’t we seen enough from past coaches they aren’t even average players? I would trade Brate (keep Hudson) for a badly needed OL or DE.; “no risk it, no biscuit”.

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twspin

Browns have something we Wish..we had. Whats that you say? AN OUTSTANDING…PASS RUSH.

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flashgordon

I’ll be intersted in seeing Emanuel Hall as well. I’ mean I’d keep more D talent than O; but, Emanuel Hall could maybe take one Dline or linebacker spot – or how about a Hb spot?

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flashgordon

Anthony Nelson is likely going to IR, so there’s your spot for Emanuel Hall – if E-man shows up in the next two pre-season games.

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geno711

Last Year for the Jet’s Bowles started the season with:
7 corner backs
5 safeties
7 total linebackers
6 total defensive lineman
25 total

Offense they had:
2 QB’s
4 RB
4 TE
6 WR
9 OL

25 total
3 specialists

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fredster

So if Bucs do well this year I’m good with Licht. My gut says they win 8-10 games and I tend to agree with Licht that it’s more coaching than talent. He’s mad mistakes no doubt but I’m fine with it. I’m sure Arians has something to do with it too. His thoughts and relationship with Licht.

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Itch

What I will say about Litch is he has done as good a job as any GM in finding talent in UDFAs. Given the value that Brate, Barber, Humphries and others have had (production vs price) you have to give him kudos on finding talent where others have not. I think his issue comes in when he struggles with the bigger decisions.

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buddah

Good Fab 5. I would like to see some analysis of PR’s view of the competition in the NFC South. Yesterday, one fact-free poster claimed that bA is the worst coach with the worst NFL coaching career record in the NFC South. As usual, this poster didn’t bother to research the facts: Regular Season Results: Bruce Arians 59-35-1 .626 Sean Payton 118-74 .615 Dan Quinn 36-28 .563 Ron Rivera 70-56 .555 It is quite possible that two of these coaches will not make it through this year. Since blowing a huge lead in the Super Bowl, Quinn has been mediocre… Read more »

avez8811

ive never been sure of jason licht, but i do have faith and believe in bruce arians and he wants him there so o think we’re heading in the right direction

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Spitfire

A positive in the game so far I like how our Secondary is right there on every pass and contesting a lot of passes. Also I’m seeing some really good tackling with a lot of Gamg Tackling like we used to see in the Defensive Glory Days.

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Horse

Spence’s like a boy among men easily being manhandled. Ralston has done nothing but raise his arm one time to help block a pass.
so far in the game all I am seeing that is screaming out to me is offensive lineman and defensive lineman; we need some.

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twspin

And now you guys see why I have been wailing about getting a pass rush. Them Brown bringin Hella pressure. That how its done. jameis ain’t got time to even blink.

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What the Buc

End of first half, Winston hasn’t made an mistakes also has done squat. This suggest the best Winston is the reckless Winston. If that’s the alturnative he’s not Franchise QB, perhaps not even a legit starter.

Granted this isn’t the team we will be starting but it’s not encouraging, the defense looks way better so there is that.

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Horse

Our offensive line is playing poorly; Winston has done okay.
Defensive ends have done nothing.
This is based on the end of the first half.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

I believe the Bucs O line is worse.
I swear I saw number 54 for Cleveland had Winston looking out his ear hole.
They sat on hands with Offensive line all offseason now the results are showing.
Winston never had a chance tonight .
No QB could deal with that kind of rush.

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76Buc

OL Earl Watford, OT Caleb Benenoch, C NATE TREWYN, G ZACK BAILEY; none of these guys will be on the team to start the season.

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scubog

I understand that the Glazers are hoping that a little continuity, stability and commitment will have better results than the revolving door. They’ve never hesitated to fire someone under contract and, in effect, pay double. If Jason Licht really hasn’t stocked the team with enough talent to at least consistently contend for the playoffs, I have no doubt that we’ll be starting all over……….again. Maybe as soon as 2020.

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