Jason Licht, Team Glazer & “That Quick Feel-Good”

March 6th, 2017


He won’t be celebrating his team’s next victory for at least six months, yet here stands Jason Licht, ready to jump once again into the deep end of the pool.

This time, for keeps.

On the brink of free agency, Tampa Bay’s 46-year-old GM finds his team loaded with needs and enough cap space to fill the five-story glass and steel football that welcomes visitors to One Buc Place.

While many Buc fans are eager to break open the bank for DeSean Jackson, Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson, Licht realizes the next few weeks will go a long way in determining his professional future.

Licht has already proven himself as a shrewd judge of talent in the draft, but the Glazers aren’t exactly overwhelmed by his acumen in free agency. The temptation to spend lavishly will be tough to resist, especially for a 9-7 team on the rise, but Licht is also well aware that ownership is on record saying that the most active teams in March rarely make much noise in January.

“Free agency can be almost like a drug,’’ Joel Glazer once told me. “You look for that quick hit, that quick feel-good. I know teams that year in and year out are the Super Bowl champions of free agency, and amazingly enough, it doesn’t seem to happen for them during the season. If you can resist the urge for about six weeks, you’re often better off.”

When Licht was hired in 2014, he was given a four-year deal with a fifth-year option. The Glazers will soon have to decide whether Licht and his personnel staff have the right stuff to transform the Bucs into a perennial NFL power.

The 2014 free agent debacle weighs heavily on Licht’s mind. He barely had time to unpack his bags before he and Lovie Smith were faced with their first real test.

Any grade other than “F” is being too kind.

Empowered Or Paralyzed?

In came Josh McCown, Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner. None of those gentlemen will suit up for the 2017 Bucs and Collins can’t even find a job in the league as a backup.

“That was not the way,” Licht says of the 2014 free-agent spree. “I was never around an organization that did it that way, but I did it and I accept responsibility for it. It just took me back to what my core values and beliefs are regarding free agency — you can’t buy a championship, you’ve got to build one.”

Although Licht needs to learn from history, he can’t be paralyzed by past mistakes. Some of those misfires came courtesy of Smith, who spent much of 2013 in his Chicago basement — evaluating talent and getting it wrong.

There are players available later this week who can help the Bucs immediately, so the Glazers need to learn from their mistakes as well.

In 2011, coming off a 10-6 season, the Glazers bought into the hype and overestimated Tampa Bay’s talent level. Mark Dominik’s big move that March was signing punter Michael Koenen.

Memo to Licht … you don’t need a punter.

Buc fans will be enraged if Licht doesn’t land at least a few free agents of note. But there’s a happy medium between going hog wild and staying pat.

That is the comfort zone Licht wants to be in heading into the draft.

Luxury Models

If Licht is feeling the heat, he’s not letting it show. He looked confident and poised during his Combine chat with the media last week and he has the backing of the Glazers.

Until he doesn’t.

“I love pressure,” Licht says. “My entire life, since I grew up as a kid, I’ve been through a lot of pressure situations. I have great parents, a great foundation. Been through tough times growing up. The more pressure, the better, so bring it on.”

Nobody has to tell Licht and his staff the importance of the next few weeks. Adding the right free agents can be critical in terms of shaping your draft board. It can also be the difference between a rookie having to start right away or having the luxury to learn behind a veteran.

And let’s not downplay the chemistry factor.

Yes, DeSean Jackson is a big-play target, but he is also known to be a high-maintenance player. The Bucs like the camaraderie in their locker room right now and Licht knows in hindsight that Anthony Collins flunked the character test.

He wasn’t a team player, so now he’s not a player for any team.

“In free agency, it’s buyer beware,’’ Glazer said. “Sometimes you have to resist that instant gratification because while you’ll feel good at that moment and you got that headline, you pay some consequences.’’

Fasten your seat belts, Buc fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

21 Responses to “Jason Licht, Team Glazer & “That Quick Feel-Good””

  1. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    I’m ready for the ride! It started already to day with Gholston’s contract. FA is usually my favourite time of year too..then looking forward to the draft.

    Good time to be a bucs fan…great article Ira..

  2. Miko Says:

    …some decent right tackles available, could be addressed too…

  3. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “I did it and I accept responsibility for it” – Jason Licht

    There you go, people. I’m sure most of you will refuse to accept his words, but he just made it clear (again). He was responsible. I personally think it is a shared responsibility, but all of you who like to blame solely Lovie?

    In your face.

  4. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Damn, if this article doesn’t get you hyped up, I don’t know what will.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Timely ‘caution piece’ Ira. Every time another FA is mentioned, seems like lots of folks (media & fans) go into their ‘Oooh, we’ve got to sign him … Super Bowl here we come’ dance. After getting burned in that 2014 FA spree, I wouldn’t blame the Glazers for being cautious, but at the same time that’ll doom us to mediocrity in the NFC South. Bucs needs are pretty obvious … some of them can be filled through the draft, but some will have to be fixed via free agency, preferably this year. We simply can’t draft enough starters or key rotational players to fix all of our holes. Nor can we buy enough in free agency. Both FA & the draft will be critical this yr. Love your bottom line: ‘Fasten your seat belts, Buc fans, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.’ Sooo true.

  6. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    What I get from this is that regardless of what Mike Florio claims, DeSean Jackson may not be a target at all because he is known to be a high-maintenance player.

    I happen to agree.

    The Glazers prefer to draft key positions and develop the players. Or, if they go long term free agents, they want young free agents (such as undrafted or from other leagues). Yes, they approve some older guys, but they must be great leaders and signed to short term contracts (no more than 2-3 years).

    I think the Bucs plan to draft their WR. I don’t know which round, but this class is deep supposedly at the position.

  7. Pawel Says:

    What does Joel Glazer know about drugs? He knows it pretty well it seems Lol

  8. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Defense Rules, I think the Glazers may prefer to develop young players, but they have been known to approve of aged veterans if they fir the mold. Simeon Rise and Vincent Jackson are prime examples.

    DeSean Jackson is not, because he is not the leader-type they prefer. If anything, he would add stress to a young offense. And his production is not nearly as good as people want to pretend. People think “speed” and want him. But really, that speed has not helped him all that much.

  9. RawBucFan Says:

    Licht has all the intel he needs on DJax..speed dial to Andy Reid who will provide 👍🏿👍🏿. Sign him & an interior D lineman. Take care of our own in McDougald, Shep, Jacquizz, Robinson, maybe Spence for depth. Get ready for the draft & grab best player in Rd 1 & fill out the rest of the roster TE, S, RB, DE, WR, CB. Pick up a few FA after June cuts. Playoffs & division are there for the taking.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    I hear ya Bonzai (‘But really, that speed has not helped him all that much’) but I don’t think it’s about Jackson’s numbers personally. His speed has to be respected and thus it stretches the field. Tend to think that was a huge problem for the Bucs last yr, and limited both ME13 AND Jameis. Could also help our running game if it keeps the safeties honest. To me, it’s not just about speed (Kenny Bell had speed) but it’s about convincing the defense that they must respect it or they’ll get badly burned. Desean Jackson has shown over several yrs that he can do that.

  11. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Again…Free Agents are far from FREE! It’s just getting impossible for fans to keep up what is value with today’s crazy cap $$$. I respect the players getting their share of the pie…they deserve it…but it makes it really hard to actually judge which contracts are good and which are bad.

    The bottom line is whether the player produces or not. A productive player is almost always worth the money…no production and no matter cheaply you get a player it was a bad deal.

    Teams are expected to show them the money….they should be expected to show the teams the production.

  12. matthew miller Says:

    2014 was Lovie’s fault. Lovie is a complete stooge. But we have Jameis because of Lovie’s ineptness during 2014. Now Lovie is gone. Win Win. Go BUCS!

  13. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Jackson has said he wants to return to the fleagles. He’s using the Bucs to bump up the offer he will get from them. There are younger players who fit this team better. We need guys who are team first and young enough to grow with the nucleus we have.

  14. Buc1987 Says:

    “Some of those misfires came courtesy of Smith, who spent much of 2013 in his Chicago basement — evaluating talent and getting it wrong.”

    Ira let’s change the word “some” to most to appease Bonzai.

    Bonzai what do you want a lollipop?

    How many of us ever disputed that Licht played a small part in it?

    Even DallasBuc called him Lovie’s lapdog back then.

    70/20 split imo.

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

    Lockerroom camaraderie is good but camaraderie never converted a first down. I’ll be good wit a little lockerroom upevel if it ends with a championship. Word is Sapp was challenging dudes all the time. Probably didn’t cease until he challenged a mild mannered Chidi Ahontu and he was game. Needless to he back off Ahontu when he stood up.

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

    And folks talking that high maintenance noise when it comes to Djax my question to you is did you feel that way about Keyshawn Johnson when he was in Tampa??? See this players gotta be perfect little nicely groomed angles bull s@$! needs to end and needs to end fast. If not we ain’t never winning s@$! BIG.

  17. Wausa Says:

    Despite the 9-7 record the Bucs have a number of holes to fill.
    We had below average safety play last year, a drug addict for a RB, terrible WR play behind Mike Evans and Adam Humphries(he should be a #5 receiver),
    No depth at TE, No depth at LB, below average Center and below average DT next to Gerald McCoy.

    I said this last year before the season started. The Bucs have a playoff caliber starting line up but one of the bottom three or four back half rosters in the league.

    The Bucs have got to get better depth and improve the back half of the roster.

  18. destinjohnny Says:

    i still think we need a strong team president with great vision.
    jason is a good scout (not great) but lacks vision.
    Case in point, last year was the best d lineman class in 20 years.
    Lineman was our biggest need. We draft a 3rd down pass rush specialist and a kicker and slow under sized DB. You could have gotten guys in the 2nd and 3rd last year that normally would have been first round talent. If VH3 came out this year would be a 2nd round pick due to this class being the best D back class ever.
    Sheldon rankings was sitting there for us last year. Him and 93 together would have been a train wreck. We also passed on pther stud d limena to take a kicker.
    Jason should have looked at the drafts strengh and drafted accordinngly. Now we have to sign free agents abd blow the cap out on a d lineman when we could have gotten one last year that could be playing on a rookie contract this year.
    You cant make these mistakes if you want to be a great team.

  19. Alstott up the gut Says:

    The free agent class may have been an F, but acting quickly on it so we are in the position we are in now (only 3 years later) deserves some extra credit and a passing grade. Love DJax and Campbell possibilities. Add Mangold to that…. could be a perfect fit for a need area.

  20. Kansas95Bucs Says:

    @Nole man I hear you!! I want players that want to play and can be productive. I don’t know about y’all but I’m tired of seeing my team get blown out the water. Choir boy or hells angel,if the man can play and has the desire to win then sign ’em

  21. Broy34 Says:

    Bonzai-used to respect you until you thought he’d say “it was half lovie half me” dude everyone in front of mics takes responsibility. If you think the corner back tandem that lovie started weren’t his choices you’re clueless. Licht didn’t take over til he was gone. Period. Drafting he did but lovie controlled the free agency. Give the lovie crap up man. How many people have taken responsibility for something they didn’t actually do because a camera is on.