Another Free Agency Fail For Jason Licht

February 13th, 2019


Let’s think about what just happened here.

The Bucs struck out in free agency. Yeah, again.

The release of Vinny Curry after only one season is a public acknowledgment that Tampa Bay didn’t do its proper homework last March.

Jason Licht pounced on Curry the day after he was released by the Super Bowl champion Eagles, handing him a base salary of $3 million and a $3.5 million roster bonus.

That’s a lot of cabbage for a guy who had posted only one season with more than four sacks.

Departed Bucs DE Vinny Curry, a Jason Licht fail, says Ira Kaufman.

Licht believed Curry’s championship pedigree would rub off on some younger players, but now Curry is free to deliver all that leadership for another franchise. Curry battled through some injuries and was outplayed by Carl Nassib, younger and cheaper.

So now Curry joins a long list of free-agent gaffes that has haunted the Bucs throughout this brutal 11-year playoff drought.

Curry was supposed to be a key contributor in an offseason haul up front, joining Jason Pierre-Paul, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein and Vita Vea.

Now Curry is toast, and he won’t be the last to depart from that group.

Buc fans should never forget that teams active in free agency are usually trying to make up for mistakes in the draft.

If Noah Spence had lived up to expectations, the Bucs wouldn’t have overpaid Curry. If Vernon Hargreaves had established himself as a dependable pro, Licht wouldn’t have drafted two cornerbacks in the second round.

Only one word matters when it comes to free agency — value.

Just ask Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian.

“You had better do your homework well in advance of this and you better continue to do your homework throughout this whole process,” Polian says. “What this is about is getting maximum value for your money. It’s not fantasy football.”

When the Bucs turn in their homework for free agency, there are pages missing. At least Curry wasn’t a locker room poison like some past signings Tampa Bay fans know about all too well.

The Bucs won’t have as much cap space as they are accustomed to heading into 2019 free agency, and that’s a good thing. It’s more important than ever to find value in the marketplace, more important than ever to base your decisions on solid research.

“Free agency is dangerous,” says Bears GM Ryan Pace, who has built a dangerous young club on the shores of Lake Michigan. “You’re stepping through land mines, and you’ve got to be careful you don’t step on one. A lot of times these guys are available for a reason. You have to sort through that.”

Bucs GM Jason Licht needs new office signage, says The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports.

Sorting through all that takes times and dedication. Money is a big factor and the Bucs no longer have the luxury of a starting quarterback on a cheap rookie contract.

Jameis Winston is going to be paid this fall and the ramifications should be profound. There’s less margin for error moving forward around One Buc Place, less room for misjudging talent.

“In free agency, you pay A money for B players,” Polian says. The Bucs have proven Polian right in that regard with a slew of poor decisions when March rolls around.

“You can always recover from the player you didn’t sign,” says Pace. “You can’t recover from the player you signed at the wrong price.”

Sounds like a sign that should be hanging in Licht’s office.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985. The corporate leash was removed from his neck when he joined in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV.

45 Responses to “Another Free Agency Fail For Jason Licht”

  1. scbucsfan Says:

    Bucs get roasted when they sign FAs, roasted when they don’t. Low hanging fruit here.

  2. Alanbucsfan Says:

    M Evans, Winston, Howard, Godwin, Marpet, Smith, Vea, McCoy, David, Kwon, entire secondary – all through the draft. That’s pretty much the Bucs best players. Free agency is almost always a crap shoot

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    All the fanfare about getting guys with SB rings…..Joe has fallen for that quite often……all the ring means is that a player was fortunate enough to be on a winning team…..not necessarily a big contributor…..if he was, he would have likely been kept.

  4. Jean Lafitte Says:

    …and that’s what winning does too. You can sell off all your duds for a premium price. It’s a buyer beware market.

  5. Not there yet Says:

    It wasn’t a poor decision. Everyone wanted curry and thought he was an upgrade compared to what we had. He didn’t perform on a bad defense where not one performed particularly well. Guess it’s good to be a critic. When a general manager makes a signing, fans and media can all applaud the move then when player underperforms same people get to play the blame game.

    6.5 million for a free agent fresh off a Super Bowl that’s not much of a failure compared to the stupid decision to resign wil Gholston to a contract no one else would have given him. Whenever you have the option to walk away after a year from a free agent that’s a win to me, didn’t work out see ya. Imagine being stuck with him or shaggy baker

  6. Lord Cornelius Says:

    FA is probably a 50/50 proposition at best historically for any NFL teams. But Licht has batted worse than that. He’s done way better with trades or undrafted signings.

    I was for firing Licht until he brought in BA. Without Licht we don’t get BA.

    Licht can redeem himself if he can actually rebuild our trenches for the long term this year and nail a draft and if the coaches can get more out of his past high investments.

  7. Loyaltotheend Says:

    And why did Licht survive after back to back 5 win seasons?

  8. Stu Says:

    Is Shelton Quarles still Director of Pro Personnel?

  9. Lord Cornelius Says:

    @Not there

    Agree. Curry wasn’t supposed to be some elite DE. We didn’t pay him that way. This was more a calculated depth move to me that we over paid for but got to walk from a year later.

    The biggest failures in personnel last year was
    -bringing back Brent Grimes vs a better vet at the time
    -holding on to Djax when he could have gotten a draft pick
    -not figuring out RG or RB

  10. DB55 Says:

    You can’t recover from the player you signed at the wrong price.”

  11. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Thanks for writing this piece IRA. I agree that Jason has to do more homework on his free agent acquisitions. you pointed out Swaggy baker was lazy and didn’t like to practice soon after his signing. This may have been somebody Smitty wanted because on paper he would have been hard to move. But on game day that was not the case. It is on Jason to make the right call in free agency. Curry surely wasn’t lazy,but Nassib outplayed him and it wasn’t even close, IMO.

  12. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Licht has no one to toss under the short bucs bus any longer, this guys took a last place team 5 years ago and built them into a last place team with a top 5 draft pick again. Guy has ZERO clue how to build a team the right way. Pretending you are the smartest guy in the draft rooms doesnt equal success. If you were legit building a team you NEVER draft a K in round 2 and blow and entire draft

  13. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    Licht Weight has long worn a cologne by the name of Desperation. Bucco Bruce bought him some time and may save Jason from himself come both draft and free agency time.

  14. Hodad Says:

    Most fans who really know football know Jason Licht doesn’t know how to build a winning football team. His win, loss record, his draft, and free agency record bares that out. Unfortunately the Glazer boys, Moe, Larry, and Curley own the team, and know less about football then the average fan. Licht should’ve been fired this year. If he was kept to coax BA out of retirement it’s another in a long line of bad decisions by the Glazers.

  15. ben Says:

    Licht has had more then enough years to build a time… all he can show is failure !!

  16. JJV Says:

    100% agree Ira. Great article. I do not understand why rookies like Jones and Cappa are labeled as busts and are considered no longer options just because they did not have a stellar first year in the NFL. I am sure the Bucs have not given up on them so soon. Many rookies that became excellent players in their careers took some time to develop. Instead, the feeling is we need instant upgrades and over spend on free agents that many times disappoint. Forget about looking good on paper. Build through the draft with a young core that will grow together to become a winning team.

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    remember folks….licht drafts…lovie signs FA’s…..its all lovie’s fault!!!!!…lol…


  18. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    Technically you absolutely can recover from the player you signed at the wrong price because we work our contracts with no guaranteed money.

    Bucs didnt even use all their cap last year. Curry came in, was a pro’s pro, may not have provided much of an impact but at least was a solid depth/role lineman, and now he is gone and the bucs are literally NO WORSE OFF from it. The money is back in our pockets.

    Imo, no big freaking deal

  19. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    On the other hand, trading for Flacco and taking on that guaranteed contract? that, my friends, is a blunder.

    Not signing a player with excess cap space and then freeing up all that money one year later.

  20. Destinjohnny Says:

    I’m getting tired of sucking with no end in site

  21. Darin Says:

    Thats another fail for the previous coaching staff. You know what they say about chicken spit.

  22. gotbbucs Says:

    I personally would not sign guys just coming off of a Super Bowl winning season. They just won the only game that matters to a football player, what’s the incentive to play balls out the next year, especially for a new team? There’s a reason that there is a Super Bowl hangover for most teams and many players.

    I wont guys that have gotten close, but didnt quite get over the hump.

  23. The Buc Realist Says:

    Worse than over paying for backups to make them starters, was the plan to build around gmc for another year!!!!!! they brought in old players and backups and it was not good enough!!!!!! The defensive roster was patched up at suck a scale that it would never have worked no matter who the coaches were!!!!!!!! to run a scheme and patch around gmc for the umpteenth time only to see it predictable fail was no surprise to the “real” fans!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now gmc has no trade value as teams will wait untill he is cut, and was exposed once again last year to be on the decline for 5 seasons!!!!!!!!!!!

    How does the gm still have a job????? why do the sheep only ask for accountability when it is someone they don’t like and not production????? Shameful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2019 season will reveal answers to the sheep, that the “real” fans already know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Phil Says:

    We could have had Kareem Hunt for a bargain price but we weren’t even in the hunt. I guess the guys we have are good enough.

  25. Pickgrin Says:

    Wow – Irv has his “harsh” hat on today….

    Everyone knows FA is a total crap shoot – emphasis on the crap part…

    Licht was just trying to bring in as many decent to good players as he could up front on the D-Line last year – and of course you are going to overpay when you buy in Free Agency. $6.5M to Curry for 1 year with no obligation beyond that is certainly no travesty of a signing. Neither was Allen or Unrein’s deals. All 3 were a bit risky and expensive – but none were ridiculous. And all were structured with free outs after just 1 year. If any had stepped up – then that player would be retained this year. They didn’t so they won’t.

    Meanwhile – Jason traded a measly 3rd rd pick for a true STUD in JPP – and also nabbed Carl Nassib (who played well) – off the NFL scrap heap and got his services dirt cheap for 2 years…

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    Interesting article Ira, but I’m confused. Where were you and the Joe’s WHILE Licht’s Out was signing all these FAs? I didn’t hear a whole bunch of complaining then, but now that Curry’s been released he was what, dogmeat for a year?

    I very rarely stick up for Jason Licht, but I’m sorry, Vinny Curry was not a ‘failure’ as the caption on the photo says (signing Mitch Unrein was the real ‘failure’). Curry was getting quite a bit of playing time until he hurt his ankle in Game 5, then he never really rebounded (missed 4 games after that & only played about half the snaps of what he had been getting). Can’t help but wonder if he ever really healed up 100% from the bum ankle. Still, his stats in 12 games were roughly in line (percentage-wise) with what he got the year prior playing 16 games.

    Even with a bum ankle, Vinny’s stats in 12 games are a lot better than Will Gholston’s were in 16 games … and Gholston’s guarantee was twice as much. BOTH need to be released.

  27. 813bucboi Says:


    you went from:

    bashing lovie….
    to bashing the oline…..
    to bashing the defense….
    to bashing the GM….
    to bashing winston…..
    and now your bashing GMC…….

    ask yourself why is smitty selling books and not coaching in the NFL!!!!!!!!


  28. D-Rome Says:

    Yet, somehow people believe he’s a great GM and that he was better than Rich McKay. Nonsense! He’s quite literally the worst GM the Bucs have had since McKay. Worse record than Bruce Almighty and Rock Star. The record speaks for itself regardless of how much “talent” anyone thinks this team has had.

  29. The Buc Realist Says:


    I would love to tell the truth or as you say “bash” the QB!!!!!!!! But the moderator seems to keep most of the comments in limbo or never show up at all!!!!!!!!!! hard to post regular when that happens!!!!!!!!!!!

    2019 will reveal answers to the sheep, that the “real” fans already know!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Not there yet Says:

    Not sure how you can build a winning team with Lovie and Dirk Koetter you guys must be joking. If he has BA as coach this average gm gets credit as a great gm when I agree he hasn’t been. Not terrible isn’t the way you’d like to describe the guy. His biggest failure is not hiring a real head coach after Lovie. Koetter is a joke and doesn’t even know how to coach accountability so not sure how weak minded players are supposed to win with a weak coach. I think the veterans are the problem because the young guys follow them

  31. Lord Cornelius Says:

    lmao at this insane idea that the defensive coaches were held back because they were forced to build the entire philosophy and plan for the season around a f**king single defensive tackle.

    Lmao. When the f were you saying that when Lovie was here?

    The objective fact is the DL upgrades actually were mostly effective. Nassib/JPP were better than any DE combo on the line in recent memory at getting pressure. They even drafted the guy Realist wanted in Vita Vea.

    The DL was actually the best in a while last year at being able to generate pressure on their own. We saw what happened when Duffner came in. The statistics are alarming black and white in terms of defensive performance. Couldn’t be clearer.

    You telling me Smitty caved to Gerald McCoy and Duffner didn’t? I mean how many ways can we explore this concept to show how absolutely crazy it is lol?

  32. Steven007 Says:

    Realist, as often as you refer to sheep I have a feeling that your wife says “baaa”…

    Your posts reveal to the newbies what the regulars already know: sheep lover.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    @Phil … “We could have had Kareem Hunt for a bargain price but we weren’t even in the hunt. I guess the guys we have are good enough.”

    IF BA wanted Kareem Hunt I’d bet that Jason would’ve signed him one way or another. Besides us, 30 other teams passed on Kareem Hunt (probably for a reason?). Be patient. There’ll be a lot of free agent RBs on the market pretty soon. BA’s in charge.

  34. kyle Says:

    great article ira!

  35. Bob Higginbotham Says:


  36. Waterboy Says:

    I credit Licht for signing him and several others to contracts that he could quickly get out of if things didn’t workout.

  37. SCBucsFan Says:

    Phil from the start the organization said they didn’t want someone with Hunt’s character (despite having Winston). Let it go.

  38. Jay Stay Focused Says:

    Licht has escape hatches with these team friendly contracts, most guaranteed money is up after first/second year. Lichts contracts usually do not carry over for years and years like other teams. If he swings and misses, he’s not swinging at that same pitch again. Except for Desean, shouldve traded him when he could have got a 3rd rounder during the season. Hindsight 20/20.

  39. Old School Athlete Says:

    I remember when we signed Curry. Everyone was on board. I don’t remember one person complaining about it. Curry had an average season; not the standout season we were envisioning. Now Jason Licht is a complete idiot and can’t spot talent? Please.

  40. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I actually thought Curry was solid. He didn’t get sacks, but he didn’t let a lot get past him.

    He wasn’t cut because he suck, he was cut because Nassib is younger, took advantage of his opportunity, and makes far less than Curry. He had to go because you can’t keep Nassib from starting, and you cannot pay a backup $8m per year.

  41. Not there yet Says:

    I remember Kwon Alexander coming his rookie year and stealing the starting spot from Bruce carter I think his name was and him getting cut. It was a move everyone applauded and not one was saying bad signing even though it was. Licht has a lot of faults but I get the signing and I get the cut. I more so hate that he sticks with below average talent guys who spend their entire career at the bottom of the roster or on and off the practice squad basically habigning on to guys who hit their ceiling in college

  42. D1 Says:

    Way too many fans are giving credit to licht because of the way contracts are structured.

    Just to be clear, He didn’t come up with the idea and He doesnt work the contract numbers.

    Frankly, it’s hard to see licht, if not impossible, as the creative accountant hiding under that scouting persona. So if you take away the best thing about licht, his savvy contracts, now how do you see him.

  43. westernbuc Says:

    Licht is a process guy, and I think most of is decisions (outside Roberto and Swaggy Baker) have been justifiable.

    For the first time in a long time, this team has to let good players walk. That means compensatory picks are coming. That means cheap rookie contracts and trade bait. I trust Lichts process.

    But his misses in running backs, kickers, and corners are noteworthy. No wonder Koetter failed

  44. TOM Says:

    The problem with Licht is his decision making. For every good FA or draft pick he gets he will get two bad ones. Didn’t sign or go after Hunt. Why? Are the Bucs fine with what they got? Or worried about the baggage? I feel once again Licht & the Bucs will regret this. The Bucs seem to have a knack for making the wrong decisions. Thats why year after year the are cellar dwellers.

  45. Jim Says:

    Enough with Kareem Hunt already. I said over a month ago it wasn’t going to happen. You don’t make The Bruce your guy, then start talking up the girl beater. Oil and water…