32 to 1: Buccaneers start off our NFL 'worst to first' countdown
When a general manager takes over a team, he usually has to clean out a losing roster, eat a whole lot of dead money and get ready for a season or two of losing in the name of building for the long term.
And then, there was Jason Licht, who walked into a dream scenario for a new GM, with a proven head coach in Lovie Smith, carefully structured contracts without big prorated bonuses courtesy of the previous regime and the green light from ownership to go on a spending spree in free agency.
"I can't remember the last time I had this much fun at my job," Licht told FOX Sports recently. "It got to the point where you'd go a day without signing somebody and I'd go down to (director of football administration) Mike Greenberg's office and say, 'I'm bored. Let's do another one.' "
Cutting cornerback Darrelle Revis gave Licht and the Bucs $16 million to spend on multiple players, and they did so by bringing in quarterback Josh McCown, defensive end Michael Johnson, cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, tight end Brandon Myers, offensive tackle Anthony Collins, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and more.
This isn't a rebuilding process. This is a compete-now process, as the anointing of McCown as the starter over Mike Glennon announced. Licht said he's convinced McCown's 1,829 yards and 13 touchdowns to only one interception in eight games with the Bears last year wasn't a fluke, in part because of a conversation with McCown before signing him. McCown told Licht the "light just came on" for him a few years ago.
The Bucs' entire free-agent class will have to click like that, starting in training camp, because many times, the team that's most active in March isn't playing the following January. But Licht believes the Bucs kept chemistry in mind while making their moves.
"Everybody's on the same page, everybody's having fun," he said. "Throughout the whole building, there's a new energy here."