Can’t-Miss Pressure On Jason Licht

March 9th, 2020

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Jason Licht’s moment of reckoning is almost at hand.

With some savvy free-agent decisions in the next few weeks, Licht can set the Bucs up for success this fall and resurrect his executive career in the process. If Tampa Bay forges a winning team in 2020, the odds are good that Bruce Arians stays to finish the job and Licht gets to keep his.

Licht and his pro personnel staff, in close consultation with Arians and ownership, have an opportunity to recast a floundering franchise into a winner. In this particular year, free agency looms as the lynchpin rather than the draft — starting with the most important position on any team.

The Bucs have to know who will be under center before the draft begins because Arians doesn’t want to start over with a rookie. And sitting at No. 14, Licht can’t be absolutely certain which quarterbacks will already be off the draft board.

Bucs GM Jason Licht.

Let’s assume Jameis Winston departs, replaced by a Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill or Andy Dalton. That’s a big domino to fall, but other cornerstone questions remain.

Arians is adamant that Shaq Barrett isn’t going anywhere. Barring a long-term deal, the only way to guarantee Barrett’s continued presence is with the franchise tag.


Now comes the tricky part, convincing Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh that they are better off staying in Tampa Bay, where a shredded defense rebounded in a big way during the final six games.

The theme song for the Bucs defense in this offseason? How about “We Take Care of Our Own,” by Bruce Springsteen?

As the boss, Licht is placing his NFL legacy on the line this month.

His free-agent scorecard isn’t crammed with success stories, but he did land Barrett, the league’s best free-agent bargain of 2019. Here is Licht’s chance to make Buc fans forget about Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner, Chris Baker, Desean Jackson and Vinny Curry.

This is a chance to blow the doors off the rest of the football world.

“It is really different now than when I was doing it,” says Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, who made his name in Green Bay by trading for Brett Favre and signing Reggie a free agent. “In today’s game, all you’ve got are seven draft choices and you’re going to change something like 17 players a year … or more. So you’ve got to go somewhere, and  where you go is free agency. And you’ve got to play it right.”

In a perfect world, the Bucs sign Jack Conklin and Kenyan Drake as free agents. All of a sudden, a drab ground game looks rejuvenated, helping ease a quarterback’s burden.

If Licht pulls off an exacta like that, Tampa Bay could head into the draft without the pressure of drafting for need — the No. 1 mistake teams make every April.

Shifting Priorities

It’s difficult to find value in free agency, but hey, that’s why Licht is paid the big bucks.

“The key thing is to make sure you know what you’re getting and to know everything you can about the guy,” Wolf says. “We were fortunate enough to get Reggie at a time when people were pretty much stumbling around about the thing. But they are no longer stumbling around. It’s a lot different landscape now, which means you still have to be very careful. You’re looking to fill a need, and that’s what it’s become.”

A ghost of free agencies past

To label this the most impactful offseason in recent Buc history is an understatement. The wrong moves in March may very well lead to wholesale changes next January.

Everyone says you build your team through the draft and supplement your roster through free agency. That sounds good, but it won’t fly at One Buc Place.

Not now.

“In later years,” says Wolf, “we didn’t pay much attention to the free-agent market because what we tried to do was to keep our own. But I don’t think you can do that now. You’ve got to dip in there, and, if you have a big hole in a position, you better try to fill it with somebody who can come in and play right away.”

Jason Licht doesn’t like being in the spotlight. When the cameras turn his way, he turns away. But there’s no avoiding center stage this month.

Curtain’s up, JL.

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37 Responses to “Can’t-Miss Pressure On Jason Licht”

  1. Ocala Says:

    From what I have seen to this point of the B.A. Jason Licht regime I am not impressed.

    I think the way they have handled the QB position is reckless and not smart.
    In my opinion you have to be decisive in running the organization.
    Either you think you can win a championship with Jamies or you don’t.
    I am fine with either decision.
    However, if B.A. thinks he can win a championship with Jamies then it is foolish to not commit to him. If he doesn’t it is foolish to make him a fallback plan.

    Either way I would give Licht and B.A. very poor marks on how they have handled the QB position at this point.

  2. El Buco Realisto Says:

    When all three key pieces for defense are not draft picks from a GM that is going into his 7th draft pretty damning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish more would tell the truth!!!!!!!!!!!

    And some want this guy and ole stale biscuit to choose a qb with a draft pick?????? Better to clean house and have the next GM and coach to pick their guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “In a perfect world, the Bucs sign Jack Conklin and Kenyan Drake as free agents. All of a sudden, a drab ground game looks rejuvenated, helping ease a quarterback’s burden.”

    Good caveat to start with Sage, but Bucsville is FAR from a perfect world. Those 2 FAs would set us back $20 mil or more … for 2 positions that we can fill via the draft for probably less than $5 mil. That ‘extra’ $15 mil would buy a LOT of groceries, as in Ndamukong Suh AND Carl Nassib.

    It’s wonderful when folks say ‘No problemo, just replace key players in the draft’. The fly in the ointment is that even if we spend our first 2 picks to replace them, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that those 2 ROOKIES would provide anywhere near the PERFORMANCE that we got from Suh & Nassib (or JPP). Who even knows what DTs & DEs will be available when we pick at #14 & #45.

    Wolf hit the nail on the head when he said …

    “We didn’t pay much attention to the free-agent market because what we tried to do was to KEEP OUR OWN. But I don’t think you can do that now. You’ve got to dip in there, and, if you have a big hole in a position, you better try to fill it with somebody who can come in and play right away.”

    Suh, JPP, Shaq & Nassib are 4 players who we KNOW can come in and “play right away” like Wolf said. Rookies are unknowns, no matter how high up they’re drafted. Stick with the ‘knowns’ Jason by re-signing the Big-4 THEN draft an OLineman, RB & DLineman in the Top-3 Rnds. This is our year. Don’t screw it up by trying to out-fox 31 other foxes.

  4. a-bomb Says:

    Weak take Realisto. Pretty sure Vita Vea, Devin White, Carlton Davis and Jamal Dean are all “key pieces” to the defense. And you are bashing him for making two strong FA signings (JPP, Suh) and the best FA signing since Simeone Rice? C’mon, Man.

  5. WestChap Says:


    Bucs have handled QB the only way they could… the minute someone apparently convinced Jameis he was worth $30+ the Bucs hands were forced. You can’t pay a QB that much unless he’s so talented he’s capable of delivering several games a year all by himself… as opposed to our QB who will lose a few games a year all by himself.

    Luckily for the Bucs, there are many more available options than any year I can remember. We still might crap out but the process thus far hasn’t been due to any recklessness or mismanagement by Bucs.

  6. Destinjohnny Says:

    When you suck at drafting u have to play the free agent game

  7. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I think TBBF was the first to point this out but when you consider it…it shows how far our team has come.

    Historically…yeah FA’s are frequently essential…we’ve always had to go shopping and keep our fingers crossed…where we simply getting another team’s trash?

    Now for the first time in my memory we have FA’s to sign but not from other teams…from OUR own team. We know how they play, their character…signing your own FA’s is always a priority for top quality franchises with the possible exception of NE.

  8. Sport Says:

    Ocala – you also have to be patient and realize we don’t know how it’s being handled behind the walls at One Buc.

    Due to the no tampering period, it will be a shotgun start to FA like no other.

    JW playing worse down the stretch put him in this position. If he improved in the new system as the year progressed (like Palmer) he’d have been signed by now.

    He didn’t, so he’s getting treated like us fans, strapped in a roller coaster and wants to get off. Tough Sh!t. Deal with it.

    In BA I Trust!

  9. Hethrew 30 Says:

    Licht saves from face by dumping his biggest mistake ever in the draft….Aguayo. NO! Not him. Big as that was. It is Jameis L. Winston. Licht bets the farm on Winston and Winston does what he always done, Arians rep and Licht’s job are gone. Do they take a chance on a punk azz like Windstunned. Nope. He’s gone, and the Bucs will be ballin’.

  10. Sport Says:

    Ocala – to clarify, the tough love in my post is directed JW, not you. 👍

  11. Wesley Says:

    I think at this point it’s pretty much Ari

  12. Wesley Says:

    -Arians running the show.

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    As of THIS moment the Bucs have no starting QB, RB (RoJo is not a starter IMO), RT or #3 WR on offense. On defense, we’re missing a starting DT, OLB, Safety & 2 DEs. So out of the 22 starting positions on offense & defense, we’ve got like 8 holes. And that doesn’t count probably an equal number (actually more) of key rotational & depth players who are FAs.

    The good news is that for we have ‘known’ FAs for 5 of those 8 starting positions. How many we’ll re-sign is anybody’s guess at this point. The other 3 positions (RT, RB & Safety) all need an infusion of new talent. And oh ya, potentially add 1 more to those 3: QB.

    Not to fear though. The Bucs have enough salary Cap space AND draft picks to make it work (as in … to be competitive for a playoff spot this year). We can all sleep well tonight though, it’s all in Jason Licht’s hands. (OK Realist, you’re on. I just turned off my sarcasm font for the evening).

  14. Tom S. Says:

    Licht, with the 34-62 record, one of the worst records in the NFL, has spent most of his career setting the team up for failure.

    While Winston is far from his worst decision, if you whiff on the number one overall pick there is little beyond sustained success that would keep anyone gainfully employed. Couple his poor record with even worse personnel decisions it’s amazing he’s even employed. Wasn’t Arians and Tom Moore supposed to fix Licht’s number one overall pick? Oh that’s right, onto another QB project.

    If you have to bet on what happens next with Licht, you’d be better off basing it on his track record of failure than some Pollyanna notion that Mr 34-62 has finally figured things out.

  15. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Wesley Says:
    March 9th, 2020 at 6:43 pm
    -Arians running the show.


    He sure is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Dewey Selmon Says:

    The more I think about it the more I think it’s going to be Bridgewater as QB.

  17. Mitch Says:

    Arians increased our wins by 40% in one season. He thought we were at 10-11 win team when he got here so things will change. I do believe another year with his staff and coaching we will be a 10-11 win team next year as long as we maintain the defenses front seven, address RT, RB, DE & FS positions, and lastly whoever is at QB just does not turn the ball over so much. A lot of what ifs but if those moves play out the Bucs will be a playoff team.

  18. Pick6King Says:

    None of this matters if Jamoist is back under center. He’s easily the worst decision in franchise history. I fully expect Licht to hand him a long term contract. Nothing but losing for the foreseeable future. #NoPlayoffs

  19. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    St. Pete

    Thanks for remembering my post regarding our FA situation…..but it’s true…..we are in a position to not need any FAs…..
    We could either sign Winston or replace him with FA…..we have the money for that…..probably $25 mil.
    We have enough money to sign Shaq, JPP, Suh & Nassib….
    We’ll need to upgrade Godwin’s deal (probably with Brate’s money)

    The positions we need we can get in the draft….>RT, RB, S

    I could be wrong but I think these guys would like to stay together……they had some success with that front 7……best run defense….sack leader.

    Although I credit BA & Bowles for Suh, Barrett & the draft,,,,it will be Light’s job to sign our players……

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Our FA signings or lack thereof will dictate our draft needs…..if we miss on Nassib or JPP we will need a DE……if it’s Suh….then a DT…….
    The only reason to draft a QB is if one we want is available and we sign one of the older FAs……if it’s Bridgewater, Tannehil, Carr, we don’t need a QB…..

  21. pryda...sec 147 Says:

    Ira Jason is going to jump into pools again this season when we get into the playoffs !

  22. LetsGoBucs Says:

    Thank you Lord for March 18th….

    So many things could and will happen…

  23. Hawk Says:

    This is a make-or-break year for Licht. Especially if the Bucs give up on Winston. But it’s not the same pressure on Arians. I am certain the Glazers went into his employment with the understanding that he would fix Winston ‘if’ he can. I doubt seriously if Arians took the job on the condition that Winston stays, regardless of how he plays the final year of his ‘extended’ contract. Licht, on the other hand, has very little positive to show for his tenure as GM. This draft, free agency, and season will need to be a ‘Glazer-success’, or he will become another talking head on some obscure radio show. The Dom and Dommer show.

  24. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    Last call for Jason Licht as they might say at the pub. Admittedly his draft from 2019 ain’t too shabby so far. Big brother Bruce bailed him out by coming to Tampa. Going Bridgewater would be expecting a 9-10 win best case scenario. Hoping it’s Brady ( it’s not…but the speculation lives on ) or a Cinderella Man comeback for Winston. The other options underwhelm.

  25. Buczilla Says:

    Great article Ira.

  26. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Am Bucs fan first, and also a JW fan; however I have stated many times that a clean break is best for Bucs and JW, for all the right reasons, for both parties. Enough said there.

    I do find it interesting that there has not been a public outcry from current “SAFE” Bucs, i.e. ME13, Godwin, JPP, Shaq and others – to re-sign JW. “THAT’s MY QB” aka Terrell Owens. Strange…interesting…intriguing.

    One of 3 situations here: 1) “Safe” players already know JW is gone, or 2) “Safe” players prefer a new QB, and finally 3) “Safe” players are just staying out of the fray, as the outcome is beyond their influence…hmm – really?

    I know what responses to expect from our Bi-Polar Bucs/JW fanbase.

    What really matters, are conversations inside of the Bucs house that includes the execs and owners (and probably some key players), regarding the most important position on the team, the QB.

    As the Barber twins have stated, Bucco Bruce does not mince words. Therefore, NO WAY is Buce’s first choice as QB, an “unknown quantity”. So I believe that the “team” knows JW is GONE.

    So? Who is Bucs QB in 2020, Bucs Fans? Answer to that question should be the focus going forward. Not JW stuff – he gone!

    Bridgewater seems most likely. Bruce loves Teddy. As @Joe stated, it will be interesting to see how the offense is adjusted to Teddy. Brady is interesting. Rivers is serious Bruce target, too. Outside of those 3 – ??? Still not JW, given the Bucs public commentary about JW.

    For JW – I am intrigued where he will land, and why.

    The music will finally stop soon on Thursday (to start), and we shall see who lands, in what QB chair.

    Bring me some popcorn!

  27. JimmyJack Says:

    If ya ask me the decisions are easy for Jason this year. QB……well you have a self proclaimed guru at your disposal. If he don’t trust him he wouldn’t of hired him.

    Free agency? Let’s start by bringing back our own. Very refreshing that our big signings are guy who we know what they can offer here. Don’t have to cross our fingers.

    Totally agree with It’s that you address RT and RB in free agency so your not drafting for desperate need. Conklin and Drake sound great but Suh and JPP come first. We know what they can do here. Only if Suh and/or JPP leave might we have enough money for the other two………We might gotta pick up some rouge journeyman for them positions and hope the draft falls into our laps. If it don’t go according to plan you wheel and deal after the draft.

  28. Ndog Says:

    I swear if this team is dumb enough to sign Bridgewater over Jameis I just don’t know what to say. That would be one of the worst moves this team has ever pulled off and that my friends is saying a lot!

    And someone asked earlier today what route can Teddy not throw? Well I won’t say he 100% cannot throw it, but the deep seam route inside the corner, over the linebacker and in front on the safety is a throw that he flat out CANNOT make as good as Jameis and it just happens to be a staple of this offense and how Godwin got many of his yards this past year. That throw was very prevelant in both the high scoring Rams and Falcon games and was the first throw in the game winning drive vs the Cardinals. Very difficult throw and it must have the right amount of drive, height and touch all rolled into one. Not many throw that particular pass as well as Jameis, including Bridgewater.

  29. JimmyJack Says:

    DR I can understand why you want Nassib back but I do think we might be wise to use that money on a RT or maybe even a S or a RB where we are in need of a starter. I do think it might be a wiser way to spend the money since Nassib is a rotational player……and to be honest Nassib was kinda underwhelming last year IMO.

    If we let him go and and get guys who can fill starting holes it opens up the draft. We can wait on, say, an OL and take a DL that perhaps the staff is in love with. Or maybe a Safety that they think can add a whole dimension to the team.

    I just don’t know about paying high salary to rotational guys when you got starting positions to be addressed………it’s like paying a slot reciever a fat check when you got nothing on the outside. We might have a chance to build a stronger team OVERALL if we suck it up and let Nassib walk and give our scout department some trust to find good football players………if they can match what they did last year in both free agency and draft it’s a move that pays off big time.

  30. Ndog Says:

    BTW fun fact when Bridgewater and Jameis went head to head this year one had a pick and the other didn’t, but I’ll let you guess which win the game?

  31. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Great article, Sage!  You made many great points that need to be understood.
    This off season plan has to right and the execution of that plan has to to be excellent as well.  When I say “In BA I Trust.”  I mean that I have a lot of faith in the collaboration  between Licht and Arians as well.

    I do believe Barrett, Suh and JPP do want to come back.  I think they liked playing for Bowles and see something good going on as  the outcome of  what Arians and Lich are trying to accomplish. Insuring their return  would be a real good start.

  32. JimmyJack Says:

    NDog I think if they let Winston walk for either Brady or Teddy they gotta change their scheme or it won’t work.

    I could see them change their whole offense for Brady. He is an all time great after all……..Changing their whole scheme to fit Teddy? That whole idea seems laughable.

    If they are gonna move on from Winston I think it’s Rivers who can run this system. My dark horse canidate is Big Ben……..Other then that I could see Carr or even Dalton. I don’t know Tannehill too well to say.

    I’ll never u derstand why people think Teddy when there’s several better options who won’t require us to change everything. It don’t make sense or fit.

  33. JimmyJack Says:

    Oh or Stafford or even Luck if he comes back…….That’s like 6-7 options who fit the offense yet folks keep saying Teddy who doesn’t fit.

    I can roam the earth searching for answers but will still never understand why.

  34. WestChap Says:

    Ndog, I re-watched JW versus Teddy recently…

    JW caught a bunch of breaks: 4 picks absolutely dropped or luckily eliminated by penalties… and a JW fumble recovered by the OL for him. He had a clean sheet even though he could easily have had 5 TOs. Even setting aside the TOs that weren’t, it was a rough day at the office with a ton of 3 and outs and not much yardage until Saints were firmly in the lead… again, stat sheet saved when JW&Godwin hooked up for some serious yards and a 2nd TD with Saints in prevent. Stat sheet 1 – W’s for dinner 0.

    Now, Teddy? He, too, was perfect in that all of his potential TOs (just 1) went the same way… he threw just behind on his single possible TO and the ball popped right into the Bucs waiting hands. If you think Teddy can’t make every throw you weren’t watching the same game… lots of longer throws right on the money to Thomas and others for 4 TDs to build that lead. Also, some gazelle-like mobility from Teddy that is very different to watch versus our lumbering, refuse-to-go-down version of mobility with Jameis.

    Based on that one game, count me in on the swap of JW for Teddy. The comparison was a sort of tight on the stat sheet but not even close on the field.

  35. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    @NDog – Per my post – I am NOT endorsing Bridgewater. Just stated that I think Teddy is desired by Bruce. Silly for so many reasons.

    Most of Teddy’s yards during his 5 starts w/Saints were YAC yards, after short throws in the flat with serious gains by RB/Receivers, via Payton’s designed offense for wide-open receivers and short throws.

    OPPOSITE of Bucco Bruce offense – —requiring 5-7 step drops, deep throws for digs/outs. It will be interesting to see how the offense changes, if at all, if Bucs sign Teddy. Don’t see significant changes….maybe some, not much.

    As I said, along with being a Bucs Fan, I am a JW Fan. With that said @NDog, I believe JW needs a clean break from Bucs.

    Do I prefer that JW gets another year with Bucs? YES!!! I believe JW will/could blossom in 2020 after mastering this offense in YR2 and lead the Bucs deep in playoffs, and possibly to SB.

    JW being re-signed is NOT going to happen based on Bucco Bruce comments, during off-season. Think about it @Ndog. If you are JW, and your Head Coach and GM consider you as Door #4…as the former #1Draft Pick>>>>JW is gone from Bucs.

    JW and his team will take their chances elsewhere, even if as backup for a year. Cannot blame JW. $$$ will matter. But reality is that JW’s teammates have been strangely “silent” in speaking up for JW. Not sure what that is all about.

    I believe the Bucs will LEARN much about their offensive challenges when JW is NOT the QB. JW, for all of his faults and INT’s, covered up a lot of sins. It will be interesting to see how ME13 and Godwin perform with a new QB.

    Like I said, bring me some popcorn!

  36. Archer Says:

    I am not worried about it. Arians has it under control. Go Bucs!

  37. Big O Says:

    Like the other coaches that licht hired, they were running show, and then they were gone. Licht got a raise? WTF!!! Sh*** rolls down hill. Licht has proved he knows how to run a team into the ground and keep it there while the Glazer Brothers are off on the other side of the pond keeping an eye on team Manchester. If 2020 is a bust, Licht should go first.