Three weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers landed their new head coach in Lovie Smith. Now, they have their general manager, too, as the team announced the hiring of Jason Licht.
Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com provides a statement from Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer discussing the hiring:
“We are excited to welcome Jason Licht as the new general manager of the Buccaneers,” said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer. “Jason is a seasoned NFL personnel veteran who has worked with some of the most accomplished individuals in professional football while contributing to success in New England, Philadelphia and Arizona. His strong player personnel background provides the ideal complement to Lovie Smith’s philosophy as our head coach. We look forward to working with Jason and Lovie as we set the foundation and chart the course for the future of Buccaneers football.”
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer was first to report the Bucs were nearing a deal with Licht.
Glazer also notes that the 42-year-old will have full control over Tampa Bay's personnel decisions, although, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com, Smith will still have the final say over the 53-man roster.
Btw, the Bucs job Licht has been tabbed for is a "real" GM job as he has control of the draft & other personnel decisions.— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 21, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter provided details of the length of the deal:
New Buccaneers GM Jason Licht is signing a four-year deal with a team option that puts his tenure right in line with Lovie Smith's.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 21, 2014
Licht has worked his way up the ladder with the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and most recently the Arizona Cardinals in various roles, and this will be his first stint as a general manager.
He was a candidate for the Chicago Bears' vacant GM position in 2012, but after that job went to Phil Emery, Licht re-joined the Cardinals (he was with the organization in 2008) as the director of player personnel before being promoted to vice president of player personnel in 2013.
As Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com noted, it's a significant loss to the Cardinals' front office, who took major steps forward in 2013:
Cards lose valuable member RT @JayGlazer: The Bucs have tabbed Jason Licht as their new General Manager. Sides still working out contract.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) January 21, 2014
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network also believes Licht is deserving of his new position and reports another team expressed interest in acquiring his services:
For Jason Licht, a respected personnel man, this is his first GM job. A long time coming. He was a runner-up for the Bears last year.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2014
According to The Palm Beach Post's Andrew Abramson, the Miami Dolphins were also interested in Licht.
Licht has worked with various intelligent football minds such as Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Andy Reid, Ryan Grigson and others. As evidenced by this hire and the interest he generated among multiple front offices, he is someone who has built a reputation for knowing NFL talent.
When Licht pursued the Bears job in 2012, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com reported that he was also known for his "concise and convincing" personnel reports.
Bleacher Report's Knox Bardeen put it simply:
With the reported GM hire of Jason Licht, the #Buccaneers appear to still be winning the offseason in terms of hiring coaches/staff— Knox Bardeen (@knoxbardeen) January 21, 2014
Considering the success he has been a part of with the Patriots, Eagles and Cardinals, it's not surprising the Bucs—a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007 and has won just four games in two of the past three campaigns—made the move for the up-and-coming front-office star.
Lead image courtesy of AZCardinals.com