By all means, give Jason Licht a brand new contract. (Simply preserve a pink slip helpful.)

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TAMPA — I’m right here to defend Jason Licht’s contract.

Not his drafts, free-agent signings or hires. Not his philosophies, administration fashion or report.

I’m defending solely the just-revealed four-year contract extension the Buccaneers basic supervisor was given, regardless that he didn’t earn it.

Comply with me right here, and I’ll clarify:

With their most necessary draft decide of the previous 20 years, the Bucs chosen Jameis Winston to rescue them from insignificance in 2015. And the Glazer household shouldn’t be but prepared to surrender that hope.

So to justify that call, they took one other danger by pursuing famous quarterback guru Bruce Arians, regardless that at 66 he grew to become the oldest head coach to take over a brand new workforce in fashionable NFL historical past. And to make that dangerous choice work, they needed to give Licht in January an extension to appease Arians.

In different phrases, they’ve dragged a complete franchise down a crater-sized rabbit gap whereas chasing Winston’s untapped potential.

And, unusually sufficient, that is sensible.

Contemplating their funding in Winston, and his flashes of brilliance, it’s too quickly to surrender on him. The truth is, it makes extra sense to do all the things doable to assist him succeed within the closing yr of his contract.

And that’s why Licht’s contract additionally is sensible.

Not less than briefly.

A lot is riding on Jameis Winston's development in 2019. Not just his future, but also coach Bruce Arians, GM Jason Licht and the entire franchise. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Lots is using on Jameis Winston’s improvement in 2019. Not simply his future, but additionally coach Bruce Arians, GM Jason Licht and the whole franchise. (AP Photograph/Chris O’Meara)

For now, the one factor Licht’s contract extension prices Tampa Bay is the paycheck being paid by the Glazers. It doesn’t waste a draft decide, and it doesn’t rely towards the wage cap.

The extension might not be justified by efficiency, and it actually gained’t provoke the followers sitting within the higher deck, however there’s a bottom-line type of logic to it.

In fact, if the Winston-Arians partnership doesn’t produce quick outcomes, all bets are off. You merely can’t enable a complete fan base to be held hostage whereas ready for a quarterback to develop up.

And which means Licht must be despatched packing, too, contract extension or not.

As a result of if the Winston connection is severed, Licht’s monitor report doesn’t justify a seventh crack on the NFL draft in 2020.

The easy fact is, the dilapidated state of the franchise is Licht’s duty,

He has been on the job since January of 2014, and Tampa Bay’s report throughout that point is 27-53. Should you’re questioning, solely three NFL groups have been worse. If he was a participant with that kind of manufacturing, he would have been minimize this yr as an alternative of rewarded.

And, actually, Licht has no excuse. That is virtually fully his roster. Of all of the gamers on the roster, solely three — William Gholston, Lavonte David and Demar Dotson — haven’t been acquired throughout his tenure.

He can’t blame it on teaching, both. Although he arrived similtaneously Lovie Smith, he was in cost through the hiring of Dirk Koetter, and now Arians.

And it’s not as if Licht has been working below adversarial circumstances. The Bucs have had top-12 picks in 5 of his six drafts. The Glazers have additionally given him freedom to chase veterans by free company and trades, with Jason Pierre-Paul, Ryan Jensen, Ndamukong Suh, DeSean Jackson, Logan Mankins and Brent Grimes all coming to Tampa Bay throughout his tenure.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has a 27-53 record during his five years on the job in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers basic supervisor Jason Licht has a 27-53 report throughout his 5 years on the job in Tampa Bay. (AP Photograph/Darron Cummings)

So, for now, it seems we’re all on this collectively.

If Arians may help Winston take significant steps towards being a franchise quarterback within the subsequent three months, then his hiring can have been justified. And Licht’s extension can have been value it. And followers will not bemoan the GM with the ugly report.

But when the Winston experiment blows up, the Glazers shouldn’t hesitate.

It is going to be time for Licht to go.

John Romano might be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Comply with @romano_tbtimes.


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