Bucs GM Licht Says He Sees Similarities Between Bucs and Cardinals
New Bucs General Manager Jason Licht held a press conference today to address his new position with the Tampa Bay franchise.
CO-CHAIRMAN JOEL GLAZER:
Good afternoon. I want to thank everyone for coming today to welcome Jason Licht as a new member of the Buccaneer family and Tampa Bay community. When we set out a few weeks ago to look for a new general manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, really the number one thing we were looking for in our next general manager was somebody who was all about football, scouting and [someone with] a strong football background. That was number one. Number two was someone who was going to work closely with [Head Coach] Lovie [Smith] in a partnership and work very well. Going through this process, it became more and more clear after meeting with Jason several times hes actually the only person we met with three times that his background in football has been just tremendous. Hes been around so many different winning organizations. If you look at where hes been, whether its New England, Philadelphia, Arizona, when they were in the Super Bowl and went 10-6 last year, hes been around teams with a history of winning. He has seen firsthand what it takes to build a winning organization, a winning team and work in an environment that produces winners. With all that, Id like to welcome Jason Licht and his family to Tampa.
GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT:
Thanks, Joel, and the entire Glazer family. Ill get more into that in a second here, but, first of all, I want to thank my amazing wife, Blair, and my family, for being here in such a special moment. Four moves in less than six years on this journey and never a complaint. I know there have been a lot of times when there hasnt been any communication for a few days, but never a complaint. Ive been part of some very good teams, been to the Super Bowl four times, and besides winning the Super Bowl, this has been the most memorable day Ill have had in my career. I want to also say the same [thanks] to my parents back home for giving me the foundation and the confidence and the courage to get to this point in my career. I want to thank the Glazer family, particularly Joel, Bryan and Ed, for having the faith to hire me in this position. As Joel said, I had several meetings with them over the last eight or nine days. We had really informative, productive conversations. I knew at that point that I was just a candidate, that I wasnt a frontrunner. At least I didnt know [that I was]. This was just their way of finding out and weeding out who those candidates were going to be and who the next general manager was going to be. But I had a great job in Arizona probably my favorite job that I have had in my career so I, too, wanted to flip it in my mind and make sure this was the right opportunity. It didnt take long, maybe 20 minutes, to figure out that this was the perfect opportunity where I could become a GM for a team with strong ownership, with a strong foundation of players and, frankly, people who want to win. I cant go any further without mentioning Lovie Smith.
"I met Lovie a couple of years ago in an interview with the Chicago Bears. Lovie wasnt picking the GM, unfortunately, but I was part of the process with talking to Lovie. I knew then that this guy was a man of integrity. His record speaks for itself. Hes hired an outstanding staff here. He weeded through the process and passed me along to the Glazer family, along with some other candidates, and I really want to thank him for putting me through that process and checking the box that I would be a viable person that he could work with. We share the same beliefs. Our main goal and vision, along with the Glazer family we all meshed with our vision was to win a championship. And not just win a championship, but sustain that championship success year-in and year-out. Theres no doubt in my mind that were going to reach that goal, especially working in this partnership [between] the GM and head coach with Lovie. Like I said before, the foundation here at this team was a very appealing part of this job. Theres building blocks here in place, we have a lot of core players on this team that Im excited about: Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, just to name a few Doug Martin. Ive met a few of the players right now. Its still an evaluation process with Lovie and myself on how were going to move forward with some of the players, but Im very excited about some of the core players that we already have here in place."
"Our philosophy is going to be to build through the draft, thats where we find our stars, thats where we find the next generation, but also in the short term and long term were going to supplement our roster through free agency but were going to look for value. Were going to spend wisely. The better teams in the NFL that compete in the playoffs year after year are the teams that draft the best, and thats what Lovie, myself and our staff is going to do. Ive worked with some great men Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mr. Kraft [in] New England, Nick Cesario; Andy Reid, Tom Heckert, Howie Roseman, Mr. Lurie in Philly. I could go on and on, but I want to put a special thank you out to the Arizona Cardinal organization for putting me in a position that has me here today, with Michael Bidwill, Bruce Arians and Steve Keim. Ive been fortunate, but Im also fortunate to be here today and together were going to build a championship team and bring winning back to this community. Once again, thank you to the Glazer family for putting me here today. Thank you.
(On if he sees any similarities between the Buccaneers and the 2013 Arizona Cardinals)
Yeah, absolutely. Strong defense, a lot of very good players on that side of the ball. Some questions that a lot of people have on offense; need to put the right people in place there, put some complimentary players out there, but definitely I see a lot of similarities. Its actually one of the first things that popped in my head when this interview process started.
(On his role in deciding the roster and personnel)
Ive been on three interviews for a general manager position and all three of them are the same, really. And also, every place that Ive worked, especially successful teams in those eras, the GM and the head coach have to work together. Its a partnership, and at the end of the day it doesnt matter if youre Ron Wolf, Bill Polian, or Jason Licht, our job is to serve the coach. Hes got to tell us what kind of players he wants, and weve got to bring the players. My staff and I [have to bring] the right fits. Just like I think Im a great fit for this family, for this coach, weve got to get the right fits on the field, otherwise it just doesnt work. Its going to be a partnership.
(On what hes seen that makes him believe this team can make a quick turnaround)
Just the positive energy that I see in this building when I walked in. I mean, it really was amazing. I told my wife last night when I got back to the hotel after she sent me to Walmart to get diapers Ive got to keep my priorities in line here that it was an amazing experience. And of course anybody in this position is going to think everythings amazing the first day, but it truly was. Everybodys positive, theyre excited, the coaching staff is amazing. Lovies track record speaks for itself. Ive never met a player in my 19-plus years of doing this, run across a player thats played for Lovie that hasnt said such great things about him, and like I said, its just the synergy and the energy thats in the air. I have strong belief this is going to be a successful season, and it starts with the optimism
(On how last season with the Arizona Cardinals prepared him for salary cap management his new role)
Last year was a tremendous experience for me. I had a little bit of background in the past. Of course, you have to know the parameters of your salary cap and how you can fit things under it, but last year being Steve [Keims] first year as a general manager and promoting me two days later to his vice president I got a front-row seat to all the ups and downs of a first year GMs experience It really makes you realize that its not always about signing the best players its about signing the right players for your team. That experience, I think, was probably one of the best experiences I could have had to put me in this role today.
(On his impressions of quarterback Mike Glennon)
I got to see him up close going into the draft last year, at the combine, workouts we had a lot of information on Mike Glennon at Arizona as well. Playing in person, hes obviously a big guy, hes a deceptive athlete, hes an accurate passer, hes very smart. I got a chance to meet him just yesterday morning. Smart players usually come around when the head coach and general manager are hired. I had a great impression of him. I think hes got a bright future. Were going to put competition in place at every level on this football team, but we see a bright future for Mike Glennon.
(On whether he or Lovie Smith will have the final call on who the team drafts)
To me, thats easy on draft day, well have all the answers figured out. Well know who were taking. There will be no arguments on draft day. Going in to the draft arguments are healthy. Ive had arguments with every coach that Ive worked for, and every GM. Some of them would be happy to tell you about them, Im sure. Well have arguments on players. Im going to plead my case. I told Lovie, during the interview process, that if he doesnt like a player, Im going to be in his office 20 times trying to prove why my player, that I like, is the guy that we need, and Im sure hell do the same thing. If we dont come to an agreement, the answer is easy, it lies in itself - we wont take that player.
(On how important it is to lock up core players to long-term contracts)
Its one of my core philosophies. Youve got to lock up your core, within reason. Im sure every one is an individual situation where youve got to look at the finances, but you need to protect your core. You need to draft great players and then you need to keep them on your team.
(On what goes in to trading a draft pick)
You go through all the scenarios with your staff and obviously with Lovie, well before the draft. Ill tell you right now, well be open to anything. Were not locked into one player, were not locked into one pick. Right now wed be open to do anything. We just have to explore all those opportunities. Weve got to make decisions that are best for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It sounds simple, but it is what it is.
SOURCE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media