Buccaneers hire Cardinals exec Jason Licht as GM
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Arizona Cardinals front-office executive Jason Licht to help coach Lovie Smith transform a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade into a championship contender.
The struggling franchise confirmed the move Tuesday and plans to formally introduce him as the fifth GM in club history at a news conference Thursday.
Licht has been with the Cardinals for the past two seasons, the last one as vice president of player personnel.
"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," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said.
"His strong player personnel background provides the ideal complement to Lovie Smith’s philosophy as our head coach," Glazer added. "We look forward to working with Jason and Lovie as we set the foundation and chart the course for the future of Buccaneers football."
The hire was first reported by FOX Sports.
Licht was Arizona general manager Steve Keim’s right-hand man in the overhaul of the Cardinals’ roster last offseason, which resulted in a 10-6 record in 2013 — an improvement of five wins over the previous year.
He succeeds Mark Dominik, who was fired after the Buccaneers went 4-12. The Bucs also dismissed coach Greg Schiano after missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season and replaced him with Smith, who won three division championships and one NFC title while coaching the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012.
Tampa Bay last made the playoffs in 2007 and hasn’t won a postseason game since its 2002 Super Bowl run produced the franchise’s only NFL championship.
Licht’s challenge in his new position will reshaping the roster and helping Smith improve a team that went 28-52 during Dominik’s five years as GM.
Licht also has worked for the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins during a career as an executive that spans nearly 20 years in five different organizations.
The Bucs have only had one winning season last making the playoffs, however the roster is not devoid of talent.
After years doing little to upgrade the roster through in free agency, ownership spent generously the past two offseasons while bringing in players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Dashon Goldson, receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive lineman Carl Nicks.
The first major decision Licht and Smith face personnel-wise figures to be determining if Mike Glennon is the team’s quarterback of the future.
A third-round draft pick in 2013, Glennon started the final 13 games as rookie, going 4-9 and hardly proving he’s the answer to the team’s struggles.
The Bucs, who have the seventh pick in this spring’s draft, finished last in the league in passing and total offense.
Smith is a defensive-minded coach who plans to bring back a version of the Tampa 2 system that the Bucs popularized during a successful run under Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Revis and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were Pro Bowl selections this season, and young linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron have promising futures.
Smith hired former Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator. Former California coach Jeff Tedford, who coached Aaron Rodgers in college, is the new offensive coordinator.