Something to Prove?
As the 2019 season begins, a lot of eyes are gonna be on two men, GM Jason Licht, and QB Jameis Winston. I feel like the seat is hotter of GM Jason Licht, who was surprisingly retained following back to back 5-11 seasons.
Licht was hired as Tampa Bay’s fifth ever general manager on January 21st, 2014. Licht got straight to work trying to improve on the Buccaneers 4-12 record. He would bring in journeyman QB Josh McCown, OT Gabe Carimi, OG Logan Mankins and make key releases like OG Davin Joseph and CB Darrelle Revis.
Licht’s first draft was pretty lackluster, to say the least. His first pick, Texas A&M WR Mike Evans, was a great success but as of 2018-19 season, he’s the only one from this class still on the Buccaneers roster. The Bucs would finish 2-14 in the 2014-15 and would get the #1 overall pick, something they haven’t had since 1987(Bucs would draft Miami QB Vinny Testaverde with this pick). Bucs would look to improve their struggles in the 2015 NFL Draft. This is arguably Licht’s best draft to date.
Licht started this great draft by taking FSU QB Jameis Winston with the 1st overall pick. This was the first QB the Bucs took in the 1st round since Josh Freeman in 2009. He followed that up by selecting Offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, the latter of which is considered one of the best young lineman in the NFL. The steal of this draft was MLB Kwon Alexander, who was selected in the 4th round out of LSU. Alexander became the heart and soul of the defense and notched a 2017 Pro Bowl selection before he would leave to the 49ers in this year’s offseason. The Bucs would finish 9-7, their first winning season since 2010.
The 2016 Draft is considered one of the worst drafts in not only one of the worst drafts in Licht’s tenure but in Buccaneers history. It seemed like no one in this draft lived up to their potential. 1st round pick, CB Vernon Hargreaves III, has had a hard time staying on the field due to injuries. 2nd round pick, DE Noah Spence, has fared no better against the injury bug. K Roberto Aguayo, who was drafted in the 2nd after the Bucs traded up, couldn’t find a consistency of any kind and was out of the NFL soon after. Draft picks DB Ryan Smith, OL Caleb Benenoch and Devante Bond are all pretty much depth. And finally, 6th rounder Dan Vitale is not even on the team anymore. The Bucs finished 5-11.
With the pressure picking up, Licht began stockpiling free agents such as WR DeSean Jackson, S J.J. Wilcox, DT Chris Baker, S T.J. Ward, K Nick Folk, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. This would prove to be a colossal failure due to the fact of, as of April 2019, NONE are still on the team. The 2018 Draft selections have shown some promise. With Vita Vea, Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart showing some promise, there are still questions with draft picks, Ronald Jones II, Alex Cappa, Justin Watson, and Jack Cichy. When the Bucs finished 5-11 again, many fans suspected that Licht would be fired with HC Dirk Koetter and his staff. But to much surprise, he was retained. It seems like no matter what has been done, Licht simply cannot seem to find ways to get the Buccaneers back to winning football. He has much to prove this season. This is literally his LAST chance. If the Buccaneers do not make the playoffs, expect both he and QB Jameis Winston on a new team next year.