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Buccaneers General Manager search: Ross, Licht strongest candidates as search continues

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The team's hunt for a new GM will reportedly continue into next week, but it appears to be at the final stage - and it seems like the former favourite is falling out of favour.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another week passes, another week the Buccaneers front office continues to prepare for May's draft without a general manager.

It appeared that the end was close earlier in the week, as the Bucs brought candidates back in for second interviews, leading many to believe that a new GM would be in place before the weekend. As the week progressed, that began to seem less certain, as a new candidate entered the mix, Arizona Cardinals VP of Player Personnel Jason Licht. Now, NFL Network's Ian Rapaport is reporting that the GM search will, in fact, extend to next week.

Perhaps the more surprising tidbit in Rapaport's tweet, however, is that the two candidates that have "impressed ownership the most" are Licht, and the Giants' VP of Player Evaluation, Marc Ross. There's two takeaways to be made there. First, presumed favourite Atlanta Falcons' VP of Player Personnel Lionel Vital is not one of those two candidates. Second, and arguably more importantly - the GM search has now reached the stage where ownership is getting involved. If that's not the final stage of the GM hunt, I'm not sure what is.

It seems surprising that Vital isn't one of the two strong candidates at this stage of the game - until Rapaport sent a follow-up tweet that sheds some light on how the GM search is being run.

Despite Lovie Smith stating that the next general manager would be decided upon solely by the Glazers, Rapaport's tweet implies that they have only been involved at this final stage, which might explain why even as recently as yesterday, Vital was still widely believed to be the favourite to win the job. If true, it leads one to wonder who has been conducting the search, what their role is in the organisation, and so on.

Regardless, the important information is that the GM stage is now at the point where ownership is directly interviewing the candidates, and appear to have whittled their choices down to either Jason Licht or Marc Ross. Interestingly, Licht, Ross and Vital were all promoted to their current positions this team last year, suggesting that the Glazers appear to have a 'type' when it comes to knowing who they want their next GM to be.

If the Glazers are now just deciding between those Licht and Ross, then hopefully it won't be too long before the position is field.