TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Jason Licht was named the fifth general manager in franchise history on
January 21, 2014. Licht (pronounced LIGHT) owns more than two decades of
scouting and player personnel experience with five organizations. In 24 NFL
seasons, including one as a coach, the clubs that Licht has worked for have
amassed a 198-186 (.517) record, nine playoff appearances, eight division
championships, four conference championships and one Super Bowl title.
Despite the offseason challenges brought on by the pandemic, Licht was
able to make significant changes to the roster for 2020. Licht spearheaded the
Buccaneers first-ever virtual draft by selecting seven picks, including offensive
tackle Tristan Wirfs at 13th overall. Licht was able to keep the front seven
together by placing the franchise tag on outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett
and re-signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Jason
Pierre-Paul. The most significant change came in March after signing six-time
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady in free agency, and conducting a
trade with New England to bring five-time Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski
out of retirement.
The 2019 season saw Mike Evans – Licht’s first ever draft selection as general
manager – record over 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive season, joining
Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to do so in each of their first six
seasons. Evans’ fellow receiver Chris Godwin post his first career 1,000-yard
season and earn selection to AP’s Second-Team All-Pro. The duo became the
first pair of receivers voted to the Pro Bowl since Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and
Anquan Boldin in 2009.
On the defensive side of the ball, outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett was
named Second Team All-Pro and earned a Pro Bowl selection after setting a
franchise record for single-season sacks with 19.5. Rookie linebacker Devin
White – the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft – was named Defensive
Rookie of the Month in both November and December, in addition to making
the PFWA All-Rookie Team alongside cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting. Rookie
cornerback Jamel Dean recorded 17 passes defensed, tied for the fourth-most
in the NFL, while second-year cornerback Carlton Davis recorded 19 passes
defensed, the second-most in the NFL.
During the 2019 offseason, Licht made a handful of changes to the team’s
defense, most notably adding free agent defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, a
five-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. Suh – alongside 2018 first-round draft
pick Vita Vea – helped anchor a Buccaneers defensive line that held opponents
to Licht also brought in outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett while spending the
team’s first five draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, including linebacker
Devin White, selected with the fifth overall pick. In 2018, White was named the
Butkus Award winner as the best linebacker in college football.
In 2019 offseason, Licht signed left tackle Donovan Smith to a contract
extension, after having done the same with left guard Ali Marpet during the 2018
season. Marpet (61st overall) and Smith (34th overall) entered the league as
second-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Since the start of the 2015 season,
14 2020 OFFICIAL YEARBOOK
they have been part of an offense that has recorded the fourth-most yards per
game in the NFL (379.8), third-most passing yards per game (276.4) and fifthhighest
yards per play (5.78) during that span, while ranking third in third-down
conversion rate (43.2 pct.).
In 2018, Mike Evans ranked third in the NFL in receiving yards and set a
franchise single season record (1,524) one the way to earning his second
career Pro Bowl selection. Prior to the 2018 season, Evans was rewarded with
a contract extension.
In the 2018 offseason, Licht transformed the team’s defensive line with the
addition of Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib and Vita Vea. Pierre-Paul went on
to lead the team in sacks with 12.5 – then the most by any Buccaneers player
since 2005 (Simeon Rice, 14.0). Acquired through waivers from Cleveland.
Nassib finished the season ranked second on the team in sacks, with 6.5. Vea,
whom Licht selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, finished
the season strong, ranking second among defensive linemen in tackles over the
final six weeks.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Licht selected six players, with three stepping into
starting roles as rookies. The Buccaneers’ first-round pick, tight end O.J.
Howard, started all 14 games he played in, tying for the team lead with six
touchdown receptions – tied for the second-most among NFL rookies and the
fourth-most ever by a Buccaneers rookie. Howard had 565 receiving yards and
five touchdowns in 10 games in 2018, before missing the final six weeks due to
The Buccaneers also got contributions from wide receiver Chris Godwin, a
third-round pick who started the final two games on the season and earned
NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 17 after catching seven
passes for 111 yards, including a game-winning 39-yard touchdown. In 2018,
Godwin stepped into a more featured role, catching 59 passes for 842 yards
and seven touchdowns, prior to his breakout season in 2019.
The Buccaneers finished the 2016 season at 9-7. Mike Evans earned his first
career Pro Bowl selection after finishing the year with 96 catches for 1,321
yards and 12 touchdowns. His 12 touchdown catches tied his own franchise
record (set in 2014) and were tied for the second-most in the NFL in 2016. His
96 catches were the second-most in Buccaneers history and the sixth-most in
the league that season, while his 1,321 yards were then the third-most ever by a
Buccaneers player and ranked fourth in the NFL.
Another major contributor to the team’s offense was tight end Cameron
Brate, who originally joined the team as a college free agent out of Harvard
in 2014. After only playing in five games as a rookie, Brate has since become
an integral part of the Buccaneers’ offense, catching 24 touchdowns over the
past four seasons, the fourth-most in the NFL among tight ends during that
timeframe. His 27 career touchdown receptions are tied for the fifth-most in
franchise history. Brate’s production was rewarded with a contract extension
during the 2018 offseason.