Dec 9, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet is seen during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made all of the major hirings and firings for this offseason official after confirming the addition of Jason Licht as the team’s new general manager, and introducing him at a press conference at One Buc Place on Thursday afternoon.
To kick off the press conference, Joel Glazer introduced Licht, and praised his involvement with winning franchises and his strong football background. Licht comes from the personnel departments in New England, Philadelphia and Arizona, where he’s been a part of building some very competitive teams.
Licht then took to the stage, and one of the first things he discussed was his respect for Lovie Smith. He met Smith during the Bears’ GM search a couple of years ago, and while he didn’t get the job at that time, he remained connected with Smith.
He also said that he’s never come across a player or coach who has ever had anything negative to say about Lovie Smith.
When discussing the team in Tampa, Licht pointed to Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson and Doug Martin as key members of the roster, and said the team has a strong defense but has some questions on offense. However, that’s nothing new for Licht, who spent the past few years in Arizona dealing with a very similar roster.
Like most GMs, Licht said his philosophy is to build through the draft as that’s where teams “find stars.” He said that the teams that compete every year are the teams that draft the best. He also said that his outlook on free agency will be to spend wisely and to seek value. He emphasized getting the right player, not just the best player.
In terms of his role with the team and head coach Lovie Smith, Licht said it’s a partnership. The GM’s job is to serve the coach, and provide him with the players he needs to put a winning team on the field. Licht said he believes he’s a great fit for the coach and the system in place, but that it has to remain a partnership.
Those partnerships don’t come without arguments, however. Licht said he’s argued with every coach he’s worked with, and that’s a healthy part of the process. Disagreements happen, so GMs and coaches must be prepared to give reasons for why they like or don’t like a player.
In regards to the 2014 NFL Draft, Licht said the team will be willing to do anything on draft day, including making trades. They’ll know which players they want before draft day hits, but once the madness begins, the Buccaneers will be willing to wheel and deal to get the best value.
Will one of those early picks be spent on a quarterback? It’s tough to tell, as Licht offered the same semi-praise for Mike Glennon as Lovie Smith and Jeff Tedford have.
Licht praised Glennon’s size, accuracy and smarts, but also said that he wants competition at that position, and across the roster. Licht did say he sees a bright future for Glennon, however, and that may signal his thoughts as he goes into the process of evaluating the current roster in Tampa Bay.