The Real Work Begins

February 11th, 2022

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As we enter a post-Brady world, the spotlight at One Buccaneer Place returns to the executive suite.

It’s been a very good two years for Jason Licht. Since Tom Brady signed on the dotted line, the Bucs are 29-10, including a Super Bowl victory and an additional playoff win just last month.

But now the Bucs have to soldier on without No. 12, hoping the Brady Effect lingers on in his absence. That’s a big ask as Brady departs and roster age creeps in.

Bucs GM Jason Licht

Because Brady is such a singular figure in NFL history, it’s impossible to overstate his impact. He hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy six times in New England before transforming an irrelevant franchise into must-see TV in Tampa.

For two seasons, he provided the ultimate in leadership and dedication. Now Buc fans find themselves both appreciative and apprehensive. How can you be anything but grateful for what Brady accomplished here? He made everyone around him look better.

Starting with Licht.

Without Brady’s presence, Rob Gronkowski doesn’t suit up in Tampa. Without Brady’s presence, a previously pedestrian offensive line may not snap to attention and provide sturdy protection. Without Brady’s presence, Licht doesn’t pull off an offseason stunner — returning all 22 starters from a Super Bowl champion.

Let’s get real … before Brady arrived, Licht appeared to be on shaky ground.

Through Licht’s first six years as GM, the Bucs were 34-62, spanning three head coaches. That’s an average of 5.7 wins per season, a tick better than predecessor Mark Dominik, who was 28-52 in his five years overseeing personnel.

Before Brady, Licht’s draft record was checkered and his free-agent report card was shaky, to be kind. While executing the past eight drafts, Licht selected nine players who earned Pro Bowl berths. Seven of them — Mike Evans, Ali Marpet, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Devin White, Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr. — are currently on Tampa Bay’s roster.

That’s a solid haul, but let’s also remember that the 2016 draft – Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence, Roberto Aguayo, Ryan Smith, Caleb Benenoch, Devante Bond and Danny Vitale — proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

Now, with the Glazer family looking on intently, Licht faces the challenge of reinventing himself without Brady’s help.

Ownership Scrutiny

After two seasons for the ages, the Glazers would be crushed to know their franchise has returned to the Dark Ages. They crave the prestige and revenues that come with winning big.

Although they may not expect a 13-4 finish without Brady, they damn sure don’t expect to see Bruce Arians go 7-10 within a division the Bucs should dominate.

Joel Glazer talking to Licht in 2016.

Give him credit, Licht pulled off a miracle in the free-agent market a year ago, keeping his veterans for another championship run. That’s not going to happen in 2022, partially by choice. Five starters on each side of the ball are unrestricted free agents, 25 players in all.

Gronkowski is likely to retire and others, like O.J. Howard. Ronald Jones and Jason Pierre-Paul, have probably played their last game as a Buccaneer. The hard salary-cap numbers reflect the huge challenge facing Licht and cap savant Mike Greenberg.

Age is also an issue of concern. The Bucs currently have 16 players at least 30 years old. The Packers have 8. The Cowboys have 7. The Rams have 5.

Licht has to prove he can keep the Bucs competitive without the ultimate winner on his side. The Glazers are in no mood for a rebuild and Licht isn’t thinking that way.

Arians still has his coordinators, but things are about to change in a big way Brady’s arrival altered the perception of Licht among Buc fans and his peers. He’s been viewed as a savvy executive who built a championship roster. He’s enjoyed a nice run at the top, but guess what?

Now the real work begins.

17 Responses to “The Real Work Begins”

  1. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    They were all mere mortals, until Brady arrived.

  2. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Lichthouse returns to the doghouse.

  3. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Light has learned that if you build a solid team you can attract the greatest QB of all time to join the party and open the window for a few years. Let’s not forget it took numerous drafts and key FA signings to do so. The first decision for him is are we reloading over the next season or two, or are we going all in now and most likely mortgaging the future?

  4. allbuccedup Says:

    The Bucs division is horrible 9-8 wins the division. If Licht can’t swing that its time to panic.

  5. Tackleblockwin Says:


  6. WiscoJoe Says:

    QB and nail the draft. Absolutely have to nail the draft like he has been. A nice influx of young talent this year and next would take the team far. Hoping for some diamonds in the rough in the later rounds.

  7. SlyPirate Says:

    How do we overlook Licht brought in Brady?

    Licht is in his prime. Great FAs. Great drafts. Great cap mgmt.

    With multiple franchise QBs available and a team stocked with studs, it’s more likely Licht lands a marquis QB.

  8. jvato24 Says:

    Well, I mean, Brady partially came here because he believed the Bucs were a good QB away from the Superbowl and was right, so clearly Licht was doing something right before Brady’s arrival

  9. jvato24 Says:

    Also without Licht, no Arians, so I wouldn’t act like Brady was the sole reason for success

  10. mike Says:

    No reason to think this is a rebuild. Good coaching and an average qb should make us division champs in the south.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … ‘Let’s get real … before Brady arrived, Licht appeared to be on shaky ground. Now, with the Glazer family looking on intently, Licht faces the challenge of reinventing himself without Brady’s help.’

    Oh Sage, why do you do this to the Bucs’ faithful? You’ve been hanging with one of the Joes too long. All of us remember very well how JL was ‘on shaky ground’ BEFORE Arians & BEFORE Brady. He pulled off a great coup d’etat when he re-signed all our FAs for a 2nd run at the championship last season, but it came at a huge cost. He sold the Bucs’ soul to the salary CAP devil, and now that same devil will want his pound of flesh.

    The only real question in my mind is … ‘Can we build a competitive team around what we have ‘in stock’ at the moment?’ I think we can, at least one good enough to win the NFC South. BUT … there’s little margin for error. Spend too much on one FA & that precludes us from being able to ‘fix’ several other positions with quality new blood. We don’t have that kind of money, and kicking the can further down the street than they already have will only exacerbate the problem in 2023 & beyond.

    Yes JL has his work cut out for him. With only 47 players supposedly signed-on currently (that includes Brady, Suh & Gronk BTW because of their contracts) & only $6.9 mil in Salary CAP (the Top-51 figure which is bogus since we only have 47 & REALLY only 44), JL better start taking magic lessons. He’ll be needing them, especially when he realizes that at least 10 who are currently signed won’t be on the roster come Game 1. LOTS & LOTS of open holes to fill IOW.

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    As we enter a post-Brady world

    It sure doesn’t seem like it, Ira…..I’m sure you agree….

  13. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    I think the pressure is really on for this season. If we have a 6-11 season, we very well could sink into the mental process of expecting to lose. I think that could set in and lead us back to where we were. Realistically how often do you find a guy like Tom Brady who makes people believe we are going to win it all. Big off season and season ahead.

  14. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    I don’t like this one at all, Ira. I’ll agree only with the fact that there’s some big pressure now on Licht, but let’s give this guy more credit. The whole Brady effect thing is a double edged sword. We didn’t acquire Brady via lottery. JL literally made the biggest FA signing in NFL history and simply followed it with Gronk, Lenny, and AB. Sure, Brady could make requests, but Licht is the one making the deals and moving the money.
    His successful drafts picks, no doubt, helped this team win a Super Bowl and he’s been pretty good at putting his misses and mistakes behind him along the way. NOW the “real work begins”? Are you kidding me? The real work has been done. He accomplished what countless GMs work for and never achieve. he’s the best GM in franchise history and it’s totally unfair to let Brady’s legacy to overshadow that fact. Now the real work continues.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    This will definitely be a “defining moment” for Licht. Fortunately we have a good coaching staff and enough decent starters to be competitive.
    Before the “Brady effect” there was the “Arians effect”. BA is still patrolling the sidelines like some weird humanoid cyborg last time I checked. I’m confident they will put together a competitive team.

  16. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Just to follow up on points made by Defense and Bigpoppa.

    The reason Licht was on shaky ground for me was my reliance on the reports and opinions of guys like you. (I guess it is part of your job requirements to take a harder-nosed edge.)  When Licht announced he had successfully lured Bruce Arians out of retirement the clouds parted for me.  At THAT TIME  I felt that the football gods had finally looked down and smiled on Tampa Bay. I said so in many comments here at JBF.  I had soaring hopes while the media and most fans remained mired in despair, understandably so to some degree.  Of course I could not see what transpired in the following three years.  Everything I hoped for was exceeded by a thousandfold. I still envisioned Jameis Winston being the guy who would lead us to the mountaintop.

    The real work continues. Namely, keeping this franchise relevant and perennial contenders for years to come.

  17. DieHard Buc's Fan Says:

    I agree 100% with what BigPoppaBuc wrote. Licht and his staff have had an amazing run hitting grand slams back to back to back, in the draft, free agency, bringing in BA, and then TB12. When Brady became a free agent, looking for a new home, it was an easy decision for him. And it was Licht who set the stage for that to happen. Bringing everybody back this year as he did gave the Bucs a real chance to get another ring, and he deserves a lot of credit for that even though it didn’t all go as planned.