Licht: Robert Ayers Won’t Tank

March 15th, 2016
Not just a defensive end.

Not just a defensive end.

Joe is already on record stating new Bucs defensive end Robert Ayers was a third-tier defensive end in the pool of free agents.

(No, don’t blame Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht for not bagging Charles Johnson, for example, who reports claim turned down double what Carolina paid him.)

The two things that make Joe uncomfortable about Ayers are only once has he had more than six sacks, and that was last year, conveniently a contract year.

Such a timely spike in production is a red flag: Get a contract and shut it down. The Bucs have been torched badly by that in recent history. See 2014.

So yesterday, when Licht was available for questions during Brent Grimes’ introduction to Tampa Bay, Joe asked Licht why he isn’t worried Ayers will be just cashing a check.

In short, Licht said Ayers is too good of a man to pull such a shameless stunt.

“Well first of all he’s – just like Coach [Dirk Koetter] said, we’re looking for quality guys and he’s definitely a quality guy,” Licht said. “We’ve followed Robert throughout his career and have some coaches that know him. Maybe didn’t coach him, but on visits have known him.

“We do a lot of research and he’s a great person. He’s had a couple of good years – or three good years – in the past three years. He brings a lot of versatility to our defense and what we plan on doing and he was the right kind of guy and the right kind of fit.”

That was interesting to Joe that Licht took the time to investigate Ayers as if he would a draft pick, interviewing past coaches and associates for a a read on what kind of guy Licht was going to sink eight figures of Team Glazer look into.

It never hurts to do research. And even with Joe’s misgivings about Ayers, Joe’s would bet he will be an upgrade over sackless George Johnson.

44 Responses to “Licht: Robert Ayers Won’t Tank”

  1. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Great I look forward to seeing him and Ronnie Stanley go at eachother in practice.

  2. Bill Says:

    Does third tier = 3rd best?

    Joe, How many 4-3 DE’s do you think were better than Ayers?

  3. bucs4life86 Says:

    I am totally happy with the signing, he was the best edge rusher on the market at the time and he didn’t command boats loads of money. He’s certainly a upgrade over what we have and is prob overall, the best DE we have on the roster. Not only can he rush the Passer from the the inside or out, he can play the run as well.

    Jack Smith is pretty much a passing down DE, he’s not the guy you want playing the run.(Gholston is) But I do think he will turn into a double digit sack guy if he can stay healthy and learn another move. (Like the spin move).

  4. Joe Says:

    he was the best edge rusher on the market at the time and he didn’t command boats loads of money.

    Here is the major flaw in that:

    If you walk into a butcher shop with only a couple of bucks in your pocket, don’t expect to be able to buy steaks when you only have cash for hamburger. If you want ribeyes, better bring more cash.

    Sure, Ayers is an upgrade over a guy with zero sacks. That’s not going to get the job done.

  5. Bucs Fan Since '76 Says:

    Look at what Licht is doing. Signing lower tier guys who’ve been productive to contracts that don’t break the bank. Quality depth means competition at every position plus fresh bodies at all times. This is what winning teams do. I’m beginning to see the Licht! Maybe the Bucs are too!

  6. mike Says:

    If we were going to sign a 30 plus DE, then I would have paid extra to get Mario Williams. Ayers was productive last year but he had4 sacks in 2014 and 6 in 2013 so i’m not overly excited.

  7. Bucluck Says:

    Does anyone Chris Conte’s contract details, like how much he is going to get paid this year?

  8. Bill Says:

    Joe, are you ignoring my 3rd tier question? Come on man.

    Ayers does not have the potential of Vernon, based on age alone. I’d still love to hear you fill out the 1st and 2nd tier guys who are better than Ayers.

  9. Joe Says:

    Joe, are you ignoring my 3rd tier question? Come on man.

    You really don’t know? Just look at the guys who went the first two days. You know just as well as Joe does. Even cited one in this article.

    Don’t try to con Joe into saying Ayers is a double-digit sack guy or a top-shelf talent. He isn’t, sorry. The Giants chose to keep a guy with half a hand instead.

  10. CL Bucs Says:

    Yeah Joe on the flip side the Giants are so broke right now they can barely afford their draft picks! Seriously could we have outbid the giants for Vernon? Nope…

  11. Joe Says:

    Seriously could we have outbid the giants for Vernon? Nope…

    Sure they could have. Keyword: Could.

    Would have preferred Charles Johnson, but totally understand his decision. That was a bummer.

    Guessing the Bucs are hoping Jay Hayes works his magic on Ayers.

  12. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    I’ll be paying attention to vernon this season, my money says for what he just got paid he turns more”Gucci”than grid iron.

  13. Bill Says:

    You ask if I really don’t know, then follow it up with a claim that I’m trying to bait you?

    If you think JPP and Johnson were better prospects, I can get along with that. But calling the presumed 4th best prospect 3rd tier seems extreme.

  14. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    I watch suh on many occasions last season, you wanna talk about a guy just going thru the motions. Its one thing in this era of sports to get paid boocu bucks and remain in the same lockerroom of the team that drafted you. But to leave and become the biggest bank in another lockerroom, I’m not saying they all do but many shut it down and reap the benefit of the finacial reward.

  15. Tampa Tony Says:

    After the Joes pinned for Manziel, their player evaluations don’t mean as much. So hopefully whichever anonymous Joe wrote this is, is as wrong about Ayers as they were about Manziel

  16. Bill Says:

    Joe, Lets look at the alternatives you’re offering.

    Do you think Vernon is underpaid? Should we have offered more?

    JPP, the Giants gave him 10M. You think Licht could give 12M to a 1 handed man? Seriously? I’m pretty sure you’d run wild with that story.

    We offered Johnson twice as much as the CAR deal….how far should we have gone? 3 times? 4 times? What’s your position here? The end story is: He was never coming here. We doubled his pay and he still said no….blaming Licht for that is just silly.

  17. Joe Says:

    We offered Johnson twice as much as the CAR deal….how far should we have gone? 3 times? 4 times? What’s your position here?

    Again, Joe doesn’t blame Licht one bit for not getting Johnson.

    Hey, if the Bucs are still crying about not getting enough sacks at the end of the year and still have plenty of cap space, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    If the Bucs cannot develoop an edge rusher (the only one they did develop the past decade they let walk) sooner or later, you have to cough up cash for talent.

    This just in: Salaries never decrease.

  18. Bill Says:

    I think Ayers looks like a pretty good value, all things considered. I’m glad you can’t disagree.

  19. DefenseRules Says:

    Looks like some folks are getting wrapped around the wrong axle here. Robert Ayers wasn’t signed to be our DLine savior. He’s simply another piece to the puzzle, just like Will Gholston is. He provides good flexibility on the DLine in that he can slide just about anywhere and he plays the run well.

    Does anyone really expect him to get double-digit sacks as a DE? I doubt it. Personally don’t anticipate that from Gholston either. But they’re both solid and will probably see more playing time than Jack Smith. Bucs still need to draft a premier DE in this draft, preferably in the #9 position. And then next year hopefully pick up another one.

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m disappointed Joe….this article is the perfect place for “We got rid of Michael Bennett for no good reason”….

    As far as Ayers…..he was the best available at the time….I am comfortable with the acquisition….not excited.

  21. Bill Says:

    My point is that Ayers was the best option we had. Bucs fans (including Joe) may not like it, but it’s the truth.

    Disagreeing means you think Vernon is underpaid, or that Licht could pull off an 11M+ contract for a one handed man. Neither is true.

  22. Joe Says:

    Disagreeing means you think Vernon is underpaid, or that Licht could pull off an 11M+ contract for a one handed man. Neither is true.

    This “underpaid/overpaid” is just nonsense. Can he produce? That’s all that matters. Only players who are “overpaid” don’t produce.

    If a team has to break the bank to get production from a position, so be it.

    Don’t give a damn if a guy is paid $25 million a year or $200k a year. Production and victories are the only two objectives.

    The Bucs have been pennywise in the past six years. How’s that turned out? Not saying spending equals wins (it doesn’t) but when a team is well under the cap and cannot produce an edge rush for a decade, don’t cry at the end of the year if that position has not improved because a team was too scared to break out a checkbook.

    Anyone suggesting Ayers was a top-shelf defensive end is also try to sell you swampland in Arizona. Is he better than Ghost Johnson, sackless George Johnson? Should be. Whoop-tee-do.

  23. OneBuc55 Says:

    I like the fact that Licht seems to be looking for certain characteristics in his targets; all of the guys he’s signed so far are good solid guys on & off the field, they’re selfless, high-effort/hard working guys; not to mention come from winning franchises…they should be great fits in our locker room…I’m loving the fact that Licht has full control of personnel decisions; he’s been around the best, I believe he understands how to build a winner…another solid draft and we should be ready to dethrone those pesky Panthers…

  24. Bill Says:

    Joe, I completely agree with your opinion on the overpaid/underpaid issue. It’s totally subjective and a risky venture.

    That said, you think we should have given Vernon 60M+ in guaranteed money? You’re criticizing the Ayers signing, and I can only assume it’s because you think a bigger contract to Vernon or JPP was a better way to go.

    What else are we suppose to conclude?

  25. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    “The two things that make Joe uncomfortable about Ayers are only once has he had more than six sacks, and that was last year, conveniently a contract year.” – JOE


    I did mention “One-year-wonder” when he was signed, people.

  26. Bill Says:

    I’ve already picked a bigger fight than I thought was possible. I love the site, and the info. But I think you’re dealing the Bucs a short deck. There’s only so much that can be done in any given year. I’m hard pressed to think Licht could have done much better.

    Bring on the draft.

  27. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I don’t think Ayers will tank the season. I also don’t think he is that kind of person.

    What I DO think is that he isn’t capable of repeating the kind of numbers he generated last year. It took him his entire career to even come close once. He no longer has the same defensive line…in fact, think of it like this…

    …Michael Johnson and George Johnson both had great years because of the live they were on…but when they came here, the rest of the line was not nearly as good, and so they could not duplicate the results.

    That won’t change with Ayers…unless we draft a stud or two for the defensive line. Even if we do…what are the chances that they will be good enough…or acclimate…at some point in their first year?

    The chances of Ayers benefiting from their presence are low given his age.

    Common sense.

  28. Bill Says:

    Bonzai, we have arguably the best DT in the league. If fellow D lineman come here to fail, what does that say?

    I’d like to think it’s a scheme issue….we both know what it means if I’m wrong.

  29. BuccaneerBonzai Says:


    One player would have made this free agency a complete success.

    RT Mitchell Schwartz.

    On my wishlist, I suggested RT Mitchell Schwartz be signed at $7-8m/Yr.

    He signed with the chiefs for an average of $6,600,000 per year.

    We would have gotten him at the price I suggested. One of the best RTs in the game, the second most difficult spot on the offensive line to fill (the first being center).

    If they would have done that alone, I would be in the clouds.

    Instead, the only good signing was Martin, and even he has an element of risk.

  30. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    And really…JPP turned down as much as $6m/yr to stay with the Giants.

    I don’t believe for a second he did it out of loyalty. He did it because he feels he can prove himself this year (which is why he signed a one year deal) and get more money next year.

    Jason Licht should have offered him $9m/yr. That probably would have won him over.

  31. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    And really…they could have won LG Richie Incognito for $6-8m/Yr. They settled for less, but there come a point when the money is too much to refuse.

    Those three moves would have addressed key positions for years AND we would still have plenty of cap room left.

  32. BuccaneerBonzai Says:


    I agree we have one of the best DTs in the league…and that’s why I would trade him for two first rounders.

    Do that, and we replace him and fill another major need, resulting in a completely fixed team when combined with the other picks.

  33. Bill Says:

    Bonzai, I recently addressed Schwartz in a different thread you were involved in (a few hours ago); I completely agree. But we’re not talking about offense.

    We needed DE help, the fans wanted it in FA….and the desires were not met. Joe wants to blame the franchise, and I think that’s silly.

  34. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I think the biggest, most important things to look for are youth and consistency.

    If a player does not have both, said player is not worth signing.

    NONE of the signings, not even Martin, have the consistency. Not even Grimes.

  35. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    The last three years, Jason Licht as gone after the “flavor of the year” guys…and blown it every time.

  36. celly Says:

    Joe Says:
    March 15th, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Guessing the Bucs are hoping Jay Hayes works his magic on Ayers.

    That’s key there.

    If you truly believe that Hayes is the guru that you touted him to be, you have to believe that he had a hand in selection Ayers, at least to the point that they consulted him about it.

  37. Bill Says:

    Bonzai, I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to Joe. JPP is a one-handed circus. I know he can play, you do too, but that’s not the point. Licht can not get into a bidding war, or offer a multiyear contract to a one handed man. He simply can not do it, the media will crush him and he knows it. I’d argue this is the reason JPP signed a 1 year deal.

  38. Espo Says:

    Sorry GMC is not worth 2 first rounders. I’d jump on that if it were possible.

  39. MonsGM Says:


    The butcher was out of ribeyes and filets this off-season. He was way overcharging for ground sirloin so Jason bought some slightly overpriced ground chuck.

  40. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Mama there gose that man,what it do celly..

  41. feelthepewterpower Says:

    investigations have to be made…..just like on all draft picks..must scrutinize every move

  42. Pick6 Says:

    i’m not going bonkers over robert ayers, but for what it’s worth, his average season of late has been better than any season of george johnson’s career and better than m. johnson’s typical year. he’s being paid like a complementary\rotation player at a high value position, and not asked to fill a role above his head. a guy like ayers does not turn your roster around, but when you count on a free agent to do that you usually regret it.

  43. salish_seamonster Says:

    Yeah, third tier… Joe has a delusional idea about free agency. There were no slam dunks at DE in free agency this year. Vernon almost certainly won’t come close to deserving that 17 million per year. Who else was there that didn’t have question marks? If you accept the idea that the Ayers of the last few years is the guy the Bucs will get, and Jason Licht does apparently, then you’d have to conclude they got the best bang for the $$$ of all the free agent DEs. So, as far as free agent DEs go, he was first or second tier this year.

  44. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Bill, JPP will prove you wrong this year.