Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht. This is a man with a lot of pros and cons when it comes to his time as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He brought the franchise not only their 2nd Super Bowl ring, but also held the job when they won the NFC South in consecutive seasons in back-to-back years.
It’s also important to note that all of his success has come with Tom Brady as not only the quarterback, but also the lead recruiter. So let’s get into the highs and lows of Jason Licht as the GM of the Bucs, and what it means to his job security moving forward.
High: Building a team good enough to entice Tom Brady to sign with the Buccaneers
Clearly the highest point of his front office career, signing Tom Brady isn’t the part that gets him props. It’s an easy decision to make for most teams in the NFL. The impressive part of this was that he was able to build a team that was good enough, in the mind of the greatest football player ever, to sign on with and leave the only team Tom Brady had ever known. From having a dynamic receiving duo in Evans in Godwin to building a defense that was fun and finally having a head coach in Bruce Arians that was the perfect blend of hardass and fun for Brady to end his career.
Low: Spending a 2nd round pick on a QB the year following the Super Bowl victory
Yeesh. We’ll get into the Roberto Aguayo pick, but in my opinion this Kyle Trask pick was the worst decision of his tenure, because not only was it just a bad pick it was also a really bad pick on a position that wasn’t of need at all in a year they had arguably one of the best teams in football. Sure, the pick might not have mattered that much anyways, but imagine if it turned into another Antoine Winfield, Jr. type of pick. I didn’t understand it at the time, and I really don’t understand it in hindsight.
High: Drafting Tristan Wirfs in the first round
There were so many tackles in that draft class to choose from, and the Bucs could’ve easily traded up even higher to get a protector for the newly-signed TB12. But nope, they stood pat and traded up a single pick to get the guy who has turned into probably the best tackle in that group (the Giants’ Andrew Thomas is the only person with a case to say otherwise).
Low: Drafting Vernon Hargraves in the first round
Yeesh, I know it’s mean to kick someone while they’re down, especially a fellow WHS graduate, but Hargraves didn’t turn out to be a first-round caliber talent.
High: Mike Evans as your first first-round pick
I mean, what a slam dunk. What a great job of identifying a talent that not only is productive, but stays healthy and stays out of trouble. With so many players being off-the-field problems, Mike Evans is a seemingly solid guy both on and off the field. Also, a big plus for drafting the franchise’s best offensive player in your first year as GM.
Low: Roberto Aguayo
This has been talked about to death. Next.
High: Going Devin White and Vita Vea in back-to-back years
Talk about transforming a defense; without White and Vea, the Buccaneers do not have the same kind of success they’ve had in the past few years. They just don’t. White has had a bit of an up-and-down time with the Bucs, but he’s come up with some big plays and I can’t say the Bucs missed on that pick at all. Vea is one of the best interior lineman in football, and he’s become a real leader on the team.
Low: Handing the keys to Jameis Winston
I get it; first overall pick, you want to take a winner. A guy with a lot of talent and upside. Jameis Winston was both of those things. He also had a huge red flag for off the field stuff that reared its ugly head during his time with the Bucs. And his on-the-field production ended up being pretty piss-poor too, not that it really matters when you’re talking about an accused rapist.
High: Hiring Bruce Arians
He’s going to end up in the Ring of Honor, and assuming he doesn’t have any racist/homophobic/sexist emails leak, he’ll probably stay there, unlike that other Super Bowl-winning head coach.
Low: Hiring Todd Bowles
Jury might still very well be out on this decision, but it’s going to be coming to a decision soon, and it might be a fatal one for Licht’s job security. Bowles has turned out to be a huge disappointment, both in his game management and staffing decisions. He can’t seem to find any offensive coordinator with any sort of creativity, and his defenses are steady and solid but not good enough to make up for the fact that he’s pretty much seemingly absent when it comes to offensive discussions. Bowles might go this offseason, and the Bucs ownership may decide to bring in a new front office decision-maker to choose who leads the team moving forward.
As you can probably tell from that last sentence, my stance with Licht is that while he’s done a lot of good in his time as Bucs GM, the bad might outweigh it, and he certainly doesn’t seem to be leading this team in the right direction moving forward. And that’s the ultimate factor in this decision; how the Bucs’ future looks. Right now it’s bleak, and Licht isn’t doing much to help void that fact.