General Manager at 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, 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 fifth-highest 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 injury. 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. In 2015, Licht drafted quarterback Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick. During Winston's five seasons with the team, he set franchise records for pass attempts (2,548), completions (1,563), passing yards (19,737) and passing touchdowns (121). Licht joined the Buccaneers in 2014, on the heels of two seasons with Arizona as the vice president of player personnel, working under general manager Steve Keim, who earned NFL Executive of the Year honors from both Pro Football Talk and Sporting News. Licht's first draft pick with Tampa Bay, wide receiver Mike Evans, was selected seventh overall in the 2014 NFL Draft and went on to have a stellar rookie season, finishing with 68 receptions for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns and being named to the PFWA, NFL.com, ESPN.com and SI.com All-Rookie Teams. Licht first worked for the Cardinals in 2008 as a personnel executive, before leaving to spend three seasons as director of pro personnel with New England. He returned to Arizona in 2012 as director of player personnel before being promoted to the vice president position. In addition, Licht's career has intersected with some of the NFL's greatest head coaches, including Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. In all, Licht has worked alongside seven head coaches who have led a team to a Super Bowl (Shula, Johnson, Belichick, Reid, Pete Carroll, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt) and seven who have won AP Coach of the Year honors in their careers (Shula, Johnson, Belichick, Reid, Smith, Dom Capers and Bruce Arians). While with Arizona, Licht worked directly with the head coach and general manager on player acquisition and contract negotiations, as well as leading the club's scouting efforts as he oversaw both the college and pro scouting departments. The 2013 season saw the Cardinals improve to 10-6 from a 5-11 campaign the previous year. In 2008 Arizona won the NFC West and advanced to the Super Bowl. Licht then spent three seasons (2009-11) as director of pro personnel with the New England Patriots, where he was responsible for monitoring every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents, while also maintaining depth on New England's roster. The Patriots were AFC East champions in each of those three seasons and advanced to the Super Bowl following the 2011 campaign. Licht spent five years with the Philadelphia Eagles (2003-07), first serving as the club's assistant director of player personnel before being promoted to vice president of player personnel for his final two seasons. The team won three NFC East titles during that span and earned a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX. Prior to joining Philadelphia, Licht enjoyed his first stint in New England, serving as a scout and assistant director of player personnel from 1999-2002, a stretch that included a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. He was part of a front office that drafted core pieces of the team that won three Super Bowls in four seasons, such as Damien Woody, Kevin Faulk, Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Matt Light, and Deion Branch. Licht began his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins in 1995, where he worked as a scouting department assistant before spending the 1996 season as an offensive assistant/quality control coach. In 1997, he worked for National Football Scouting, a college football scouting service, before joining the Carolina Panthers' scouting staff in 1998. Licht played linebacker and guard at the University of Nebraska from 1989-91 before transferring to Nebraska-Wesleyan, where he was an all-conference defensive tackle. He and his wife, Blair, have three children: Charlie, Zoe and Theo.