September 17, 2021

Bucs Life

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A Look At General Manager Jason Licht: Part 1 – Licht The Way

6 min read

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Cliff Welch/ Pewter Report

During the Bye Week, I figured it’s as good of a time as any, to take a look at the man who some Buccaneer’s fans are calling to be fired. Even though General Manager Jason Licht just signed a new five-year contract, many fans are looking at him as to the reason the Buccaneers have failed to find themselves among the elite teams in the NFC. Is it really fair to put the entirety of the blame on one man? Or, is it a case of he’s simply an easy target because he chooses not to respond to his critics?

Before we jump into breaking down his decisions as General Manager, perhaps it’s best if we take a minute to explain exactly what a General Manger’s role is. The GM of a team is often credited with drafting all new players, signing all free agents, negotiating all contracts, and running the team. This, however, isn’t even close to what the job of the General Manager breaks down to on a daily basis. In order to understand what the GM is responsible for, it’s a good idea to understand what the other roles are as well.

Jason Licht credits Bill Belichick and Cardinals GM Steve Keim as his mentors. (USATSI)

Director of Collegiate Scouting – 

When it comes to scouting and drafting college players, the GM looks to the Director of Collegiate Scouting, which for the Buccaneers, is Mike Biehl, who has held that position for the past six years. Biehl is tasked with building out his scouting department, scouting college players, and recommending players to the General Manager based on the team’s wants and needs provided to him. When a team lands a player like Jamarcus Russell, it’s the Director of Collegiate Scouting who is responsible, but it’s that same person, who is responsible when a team drafts someone like Tom Brady. Most fans have never heard of Biehl, and they never knew the Director of Collegiate Scouting even exists, but that’s because both the credit and the blame for drafting players is cast upon the General Manager. 

Director of Player Personnel – 

Contracts among current NFL players, be they free agents, or already with the team, fall on the Director of Player Personnel, not the General Manager, which in the case of the Buccaneers, is John Spytek. The General Manager has the final say on what players are brought in and what players are retained, but it’s the job of the Director of Player Personnel to negotiate those deals and get the best deal possible for the team while ensuring the player is happy and wishes to remain with the team. 

The Director of Player Personnel is also responsible for scouting every other team in the league. They have to know each and every player on those teams, their strengths and their weaknesses, and their tendencies come game day. While the Head Coach scouts a team prior to playing them, they don’t have time to concern themselves with players the team will not see, that year. When a team such as the Buccaneers find themselves in trouble regarding the salary cap, it falls on the Director of Player Personnel, since he’s the person that negotiated those deals. 

Director of Pro Scouting – 

When the Head Coach or General Manager decides they are interested in a certain player, be that they are free agents or on another team, that’s when they turn to the Director of Pro Scouting, which in this case, is Rob McCartney. It is his job, along with his staff, to put together scouting reports on various NFL players. It’s this report that the team uses in evaluating if a player is worth going after, if they fit into the scheme or role the team wants to put them in, and if they are the type of player the team wants on the roster.

Bruce Arians and Jason Licht – Photo By MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times

Head Coach – 

The Head Coach which currently is Bruce Arians is tasked with building out the coaching staff, ensuring players are ready to go come game day and putting together the game plan that gives the team the best chance of winning. They are tasked with calling plays on all sides of the ball, ensuring players have learned and understand the playbook, making sure players are coached in a way that they improve each week, and deciding who is going to play in any given game or on any given play. They are the face of the team when it comes time for the media to blame someone for a loss, and often don’t get the credit when the team wins. 

General Manager – 

Once we take out the various roles that the GM is not responsible for, that leaves us with a few key areas, but far less than the areas he gets the blame for. As General Manager, Licht is responsible for building out the rest of the front office staff, compiling the roster, according to NFL guidelines, drafting the players based on the advice of the Scouting Department, along with the needs relayed to him by the Head Coach, and hiring that same Head Coach. Ultimately, the GM takes the blame for most mistakes as he’s the one that hired the persons involved in various roles, but realistically, someone else usually has their hand in making the decision. 

Hopefully, this gives you a little better idea of who is involved in the decision-making process for the team, and who is involved in the various aspects. As you can see, when a team makes a decision, be it a good one, or a regrettable one, that decision will often involve more than just the General Manager. Yes, the GM is the captain of the ship, but it’s far too much work for just one person. It’s his job to make sure everyone does the roles they are hired to do, and it’s his job to evaluate how they do that job, and he will indeed have his hand in every department and every decision, if for no other reason, it’s his job and his reputation on the line. 

A Look Ahead – 

In part two, I will explore the draft, the draft process, the decisions made on draft day, and yes even the draft busts. Each round will be broken down, including not only the players chosen, but why they were chosen, and how those choices played out. Part three will dive into the decisions made regarding free agents as well as the choices to re-sign, release, and simply not re-sign various players. It will also take a look at how those decisions played out, and if they proved to be the right decision or one the team more than likely regrets making. The fourth and final part will take a look at coaching decisions and various other aspects of Licht’s job as General Manager as well as an overall look at the job he’s done and whether he was deserving of his new contract extension.  

Keep in mind, the decisions made on draft day, the choices made in regards to free agents, and the call to release players doesn’t always fall on Jason Licht, but since he catches the flack from the fan base in regards to these decisions, we’ll take a look at them anyway. There are also various other roles that we didn’t get into, dozens of assistants and staff members, interns, and roles delegated to people who aren’t necessarily in that role but do the job that needs to be done. This is by no means meant to be a complete breakdown of the staff, but simply an overview of many of the positions and tasks that Jason Licht is named as being responsible for by many fans.