It’s a tenuous situation in Tampa Bay, as the Buccaneers must improve for the future of head coach Dirk Koetter, GM Jason Licht and even, quarterback Jameis Winston.
Well, hold that for a second.
If reports coming Wednesday out of Bucs camp are correct, then Licht may have been given a shot at being around longer, even if it’s a bad 2018 season on the field.
Former longtime NFL writer from the Tampa Tribune, Ira Kaufman, who hosts a podcast and writes occasional columns for Joe Bucs Fan.com, was the first to put the news out there Wednesday morning:
Bucs GM Jason Licht, who brought in an influx of young talent through five drafts, has been rewarded with a new contract.https://t.co/BG4x6vrJDa
— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufman76) August 1, 2018
And since then, several media outlets are reporting that Licht has been given an extension of one season (2019) on his current deal.
The Bucs have had no comment on the reporting, as of Wednesday afternoon.
The timing and the length of contract are both interesting points.
One, Licht, who’s entering his fifth season as GM after coming from the Cardinals in 2014, has been in the cross hairs of critics after the Bucs suffered their third 10 loss season in his four years (5-11) in 2017.
Two, head coach Dirk Koetter is in a shaky situation, as well. Having never been an NFL head coach before, when the Buccaneers bottomed out last year, there was speculation that he might be gone after the season. Alas, the Bucs announced prior to their week 16 game with Carolina that Koetter would be coming back for 2018.
However, Koetter has been given no assurances beyond this season. His contract is believed to be through 2019 with a team option for future years.
So, it most observers and analysts have thought that the team success or failure would be tied to both Koetter and Licht.
Well, Licht scored several significant off season moves with free agent signings of center Ryan Jensen of the Ravens and defensive end Vinny Curry of the Eagles and a trade for the Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
And the Bucs received positive reviews on their 2018 draft after Licht and his staff, brought Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, USC running back Ronald Jones and defensive backs M.J. Stewart of North Carolina and Carlton Davis of Auburn in the first two rounds.
So, that apparently impressed the Glazer family, who own the Bucs, enough to give Licht some security.
However, if recent history with the Glazers teaches anything, it’s that they will get rid of coaches and GM’s in tandem, even it they have time left on their contracts and owe them significant money.
This did that in 2009, when they fired coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen, both with three years remaining on their deals. And again in 2014, when the fired coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik with time remaining on their deals, as well.
So, the fact that Licht has been given at least another year, looks and sounds positive for he and the Bucs, for now.
However, there’s never truly job security in the NFL.
Bucs add LB White to crowded injury report Saturday
Even though the Bucs are favored to win in Detroit on Sunday, their injuries and the possible effect it will have on them in Sunday’s game are mounting up.
First, as we wrote Friday, the most prominent Buccaneer on the injury report, quarterback Jameis Winston, is expected to play with a slightly cracked bone in his throwing thumb. Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told the media after Friday’s practice that Winston was able to throw in the practice and should be good to go.
Now, comes word on Saturday the Bucs star defensive rookie, Devin White, is added to the injury report with an unknown illness. The team officially listed him as questionable before traveling to Detroit.
White, who was the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft has been coming on the second half of the season putting together a 10 tackle, two sack game against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. And, a week later in the game against the Jaguars, he had an interception of Nick Foles and a fumble return for a touchdown both in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s easy win.
If he cannot go, it is expected that veteran Kevin Minter will slide into White’s role alongside Pro Bowl veteran Lavonte David. Minter played for several games earlier this year, when White was out with a sprained knee ligament.
The Buccaneers will already also be without wide receiver Mike Evans, who suffered a hamstring injury on his 61-yard touchdown catch last week against the Colts. It is likely that Evans will be done for the season with the injury, but Tampa Bay did not place him on IR, yet, this week.
That means the Tampa Bay’s other top target, WR Chris Godwin, will be more heavily counted on against the Lions. Godwin is having a fantastic third season, where he has been in the top five all year long in receptions and yardage.
The Bucs have another serious concern with the status of left tackle Donovan Smith. He was injured in the second half of the Colts win Sunday, and has not practiced all week with what’s listed as a knee/ankle injury. Smith, who’s never missed a game since coming into the NFL in 2015 is listed as doubtful. If Smith cannot go, the Buccaneers will likely turn to veteran Josh Wells, who has played sparingly at both tackle spots this season.
Bucs QB Winston threw Friday- will play Sunday
After a week of debate, as to whether or not Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston would be able to play Sunday at Detroit, head coach Bruce Arians made it clear: he’s in.
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) December 13, 2019
“He’s fine. He’s ready to go,” Arians said in announcing that his QB will start against the lowly Lions.
Winston hurt the hand late in the second quarter of Sunday’s wild 38 – 35 comeback win over the Colts. When he came out for the second half, Winston had trouble gripping the ball and actually went in for an x-ray, while back up Ryan Griffin quarterbacked the team for a series.
Winston returned and went on the lead the Bucs to 17 points, including throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman in the final five minutes of the game, as Tampa Bay won for the third time in a row.
As we wrote on Thursday, Winston was seen throwing a tennis ball during the portion of practice open to media. This as part of simulating his throwing motion on reps with the receivers. It wasn’t known if Winston tried to throw at all Thursday in the closed portion of the practice.
Winston has been a lightning rod of both praise and criticism, as he currently leads the NFL with 23 interceptions, including three more Sunday. However, he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes (26) and total passing yards going into play in week 15.
If Winston is bothered by the injured hand, then Griffin will be counted on to take over. He’s in his seventh season, but last week was his first regular season action of his career in Tampa Bay. Griffin has played well in each of the last two preseasons for the Buccaneers.
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