Throughout his tenure as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jason Licht has received more scrutiny than credit; it is time to reverse the trend.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide DeSean Jackson formally requested a trade from the team last season after a rocky start to the season. After failing to trade Jackson at the deadline and deciding to keep him for the rest of the season, fans became frustrated with Bucs general manager Jason Licht.
Yet yesterday, on the first day of the tampering period of free agency Licht was able to find a trade partner and get a sixth round pick in this year’s draft for Jackson, giving the Bucs an extra pick to play with. When it looked like all hope was lost of getting any sort of compensation for the disgruntled wide receiver, Licht found a suitor.
Licht more often than not finds himself dealing with negative reactions and words from the fan base. Although Licht is not perfect fans needs to give the man more credit and ease up in their criticisms heading into the 2019 season.
Licht came to Tampa Bay in 2014 and made a splash by drafting current Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans out of Texas A&M. Since then Licht has hit on guys like left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, linebacker Kwon Alexander and wide receiver Chris Godwin to name a few.
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While there has been some questionable draft selections over his tenure Licht has had some serious gems to his credit. Every team in this league has home runs, hits and complete whiffs when it comes to the draft.
When the Bucs failed to trade DeSean Jackson at the deadline, fans were aiming their distaste at the wrong man; all negativity should have been aimed at former head coach Dirk Koetter. Very outspoken about wanting Jackson to stay in Tampa Bay, Koetter pleaded for Licht to keep him on the roster and to not be traded for draft compensation.
Licht decided to give his head coach what he wanted by not moving Jackson for what was rumored to be a third round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles. That move ended up not being the best decision but as a general manager, building trust and a relationship with your head coach is part of the gig, so no issues are taken with Licht’s decision to respect the request from Koetter.
Fast forward to day-one of the 2019 free agency and everyone is expecting the Bucs to release Jackson; nobody expected a team to want to pay him $10 million, let alone give up assets to acquire him.
With the rumor and expectation of an inevitable release and mutual parting of ways on the horizon, fans were shocked to hear that Jackson was traded to the Eagles. Licht was able to shed his $10 million contract to free up cap space while netting a 2019 sixth rounder while only giving up a 2020 7th round pick.
Though a sixth round pick is not something to write home about, getting an asset for a guy that was bought to be cut for nothing is absolutely a home run move from Licht and the Bucs. Adding another draft pick to his arsenal in a very deep class, the Bucs have another opportunity to hit on young talent next month.
Not to be overlooked, with the amount of money Alexander received from the San Francisco 49ers, the Bucs are likely to receive a third round compensatory pick for the 2020 draft. After not being able to agree to terms with Alexander receiving a third is great compensation for a guy originally drafted in the fourth round is a saavy move, especially since Alexander turned down Tampa Bay’s offer.
Jason Licht doesn’t always make the best decision but he’s human who is prone to make mistakes. This upcoming draft is pivotal to his future with the organization and in Tampa Bay, but to this point, more credit should be given to the Bucs general manager than is being received.