When Tampa Bay hired General Manager Jason Licht back in 2014, the team was lacking talent on both sides of the ball. Since 2014, Licht has done nothing but add talent to this roster, and has had exceptional drafts as well as free agency periods. Even though the team has only had one winning season since Licht arrived, it hasn’t been because of a lack of talent.
Looking back at his draft history since taking over as GM, Licht has been extremely successful at picking players who not only have stuck around, but have become key contributors to this football team. In his first two years, Licht selected Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander and Donovan Smith, all of whom are cornerstone pieces of this franchise. Over the last two drafts, Licht has added more top talent with O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, Kendell Beckwith, Justin Evans, Vita Vea, and Ronald Jones.
There is really only one blemish in Jason Licht’s draft classes and that is 2016. In that draft, the team selected Vernon Hargreaves III, Noah Spence, Ryan Smith and Roberto Aguayo. It is still unknown how Hargreaves and Spence will pan out, but the real mistake was Aguayo and Licht has admitted to that. Buccaneer fans who point to that pick and say Licht should be fired because of that are the same fans who hate Jameis Winston, for whatever reason. How many second round picks has Bill Belichick or Mike Tomlin whiffed on in past years? Licht made one bad pick, but he has also made about 20 good picks, so fans should put that in the past and just move on.
A big part of a GM’s job is to find “diamond in the rough” players that can help the franchise. Licht has had success with UDFA’s. He signed both Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate as UDFA’s and they have arguably turned in to the two most consistent Buccaneers on offense. Those are the types of moves that allow general managers to keep their jobs for an extended period of time.
It took a little while for Jason Licht to learn how to attack free agency, but in the last two years, he has done an exceptional job of adding key pieces to both sides of the ball without mortgaging the future. Back in 2014, when he first took over the reigns, the team went on a spending spree for all the top free agents, and it epically failed. Like a good GM would do, Licht learned from that and adjusted his strategy moving forward. The only signing out of that 2014 haul to work out was Clinton McDonald. McDonald was a depth signing who brought experience and knew what it took to win at a high level. Since then, Licht has surveyed the field and has targeted players who feel they constantly need to prove themselves. This year that was the motto and so far it looks pretty good on paper.
This was a big offseason for Tampa Bay. After a disappointing 5-11 campaign in 2017, the team needed help in many places and Jason Licht has exceeded many expectations up to this point, which is why he deserves a contract extension. He acquired three starters on the defensive line in Vita Vea, Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre Paul. He also signed the top two run stuffers in free agency in Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein. Oh, and he signed Ryan Jensen who was the best offensive lineman available. Did I mention that he went from having two picks in the top 100 to five, and used all of those picks to fill specific needs in the secondary and at running back?
Time and time again when the team needs something, Licht comes through and fills those holes. It’s time for the Glazer family to extend Licht because he has done everything over the last four years to make this football team one of the most talented in the NFL. It’s all up to the coaches now.