Buccaneers: Jason Licht has flipped 97% of his roster in just 4 years

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /
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The Purge Begins

Jason Licht was hand-picked by newly anointed head coach Lovie Smith. With the understanding that the two would work in unison when it came to personnel decisions, but since it is impossible to know how much each man influenced the other as far as free agents, the draft etc. For the purposes of this article all decisions will be laid at the feet of GM Jason Licht.

2014 Free Agency

The Bucs had a new coach, a new GM and a ton of cap room. Wanting to make a big impression on the fans and the owners, Licht approached the 2014 free agency period like an eighteen year old that was just given his trust fund.

Licht gave out high dollar and long-term contracts to the likes of Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, Clinton McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Alterraun Verner. Licht also extended some prove it deals to Oniel Cousins, Dane Fletcher, Mike Jenkins, Josh McCown, Louis Murphy and Brandon Myers.

McDonald is easily the star of this class. Clinton has put in some solid work as a starting DT for the Bucs and this year will be used as the “super sub”, spelling Gerald McCoy and/or Chris Baker in the Bucs front four. Evan, who has since dropped the Dietrich, Smith also was a one time starter before losing his job to Joe Hawley in 2016. Smith should make this year team because of his experience and ability to play both center and guard. Although McDonald and Smith have been valuable they will be hard pressed to get another contract offer from Licht.

Verner and Myers stuck around for a few years, mostly for depth, before they and the Bucs parted ways after the 2016 season.

The remaining players made little to no impact on the field and are no longer with the team.

2014 NFL Draft

Although the buzz around the bay area leading up to the draft was about bringing Heisman Trophy winning Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel to the Bucs. GM Jason Licht scooped up Manziel’s main target WR Mike Evans. This decision will become the first of many home runs for Licht.

The Bucs picked tall, fast, athletic tight Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round who turned out to be, at least on the field, everything Licht was hoping for. He posted seven touchdowns in just 18 games with a 13 yards per reception average.

Off the field however ASJ couldn’t stay out of his own way. He was once sent home from an OTA practice for lining up in wrong the spot and topped that off by getting into a Twitter fight for hours with Buc fans who voiced their displeasure in his efforts. He went as far as to challenge one fan to a fist fight. Finally Jenkins was arrested for DUI in between week two and three during the 2016 season. Jason Licht had seen enough and released the tight end the following day.

The remaining picks brought in Charles Sims, Kadeem Edwards, Kevin Pamphile, and Robert Herron. Sims, when healthy, is a very dangerous player when you can get him in space. Pamphile, whom took a few years to develop, broke into the starting lineup in 2016 at left guard and was extremely consistent. He is slated to start again this season. The remaining selections never panned out and are no longer on the roster.

2014 Final Headcount

 Jason Licht wasted no time in putting his stamp on the 2014 roster. In all Licht brought in 56 new players, that is a 62% turnover in his first few months.

Cameron Brate signed as a UDFA in ’14 as well, bringing the total of projected ’17 starters to three from this off-season when you add in Mike Evans and Kevin Pamphile.