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Jason Licht, Todd Bowles Discuss Bucs’ Offseason Plans

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By: Adam Slivon

On the first day of the 2024 NFL Combine, it was Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Todd Bowles at the podium. Speaking to both the local media and others in attendance in Indianapolis, both Licht and Bowles had plenty to discuss when previewing the 2024 NFL Draft, as well as free agency.

What are they hoping to take away from this week, and what are their respective mindsets looking ahead? This is what they had to say.

Jason Licht Discusses 2024 NFL Draft Strengths, Free Agency

Jason Licht is known for finding talent in the NFL Draft. As of late, he truly has been the “Shining Licht” for the Bucs as he has found plenty of talent over the past two seasons in transforming the team from being veteran-laden to one that is quickly becoming one of the youngest in the NFL.

Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Adam Slivon/PR

It is safe to say that he enjoys the challenge of finding quality of draft prospects, and this year is no different. Tampa Bay has big needs at outside linebacker, interior offensive line, and strong safety, among other positions that could use reinforcements. When looking at the incoming 2024 NFL Draft class, Licht thinks it is a group with plenty of strengths.

“Offensive tackle, offensive line, there’s a lot of interesting players,” Licht said about the biggest strengths this year. “I think the receiver group is very good throughout. We’ve got some defensive linemen — maybe not strong in terms of numbers at the top, but throughout once again. Don’t like to talk about weaknesses in a draft because you can always find some sleepers.”

When looking at the offensive line in particular, left guard is a position that could be upgraded and will need to be addressed as left guards Aaron Stinnie and Matt Feiler are both free agents. At center, Robert Hainsey has been the starting center over the past two seasons but largely disappointed last year and looks to be more of a high-end backup than someone who should be given the starting gig.

“Absolutely, always looking to build the trenches, always looking for depth, always looking for upgrades,” Licht added. “I think that’s something that we’ll definitely be looking [for] not just in the draft, but free agency, through camp, and whatever avenues we have. We’ll always be looking there.”

Bucs WR Mike Evans and QB Baker Mayfield

Bucs WR Mike Evans and QB Baker Mayfield – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Free agency is another avenue the Bucs could go down, but right now, their focus is on paying their incumbent talent.

”We’re focused on signing ours right now. I mean, if we can re-sign Mike [Evans] and Baker [Mayfield] and Lavonte [David], Chase [McLaughlin], Antoine [Winfield Jr.], and Tristan [Wirfs], I mean, we should be throwing another boat parade. So, that’s a pretty good class there.”

That is a challenge, and navigating the re-signing of top players and supplementing the roster with external talent is an arduous task. Licht is hopeful to keep the blend of young and old talent together, but admits that it’s not easy.

“You always want good young players for depth, for the future, and so it’s not that easy finding them, but it’s not that hard to want to add them to the roster,” he said. “We have a great blend right now, in just a few years we’ve changed it from the oldest roster in the league to now we’ve got a very young roster with some good, very high-end veterans, so [we] want to keep that going.”

Todd Bowles: “Film Doesn’t Lie”

Head coach Todd Bowles is in Indy this week watching the NFL Combine, and while he will be looking on to see who does well like everyone else, Bowles said that it is more about what players have put on tape than what they do in drills.

Ball don’t lie.

“You’re not going to get a lot out of guys doing a whole bunch of drills,” Bowles said. “The film doesn’t lie. If a guy runs a 4.20 40[-yard dash]and I haven’t seen him on tape, I’m [going to] say that was fast, let me go back, and watch him.

“I’m not [going to] say I want him. I’m [going to] say let’s see how he plays. How he plays is the most important. The athleticism, what they do at the combine helps to see how versatile oe how stiff or non-stiff they are, but if the film does not show the speed or the film does not show the tenacity or tackling, the combine really doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

When evaluating potential Bucs roster fits, Bowles did say that it helps get a feel for a player and that it leads to further research.

“It can help you look at guys,” Bowles added. “It helps guys get looked at on tape. It helps you go look at the tape and want to do a deeper dive into them, and the scouts do that anyway. It helps you want to do a deeper dive and say, ‘Hey, he’s got height, weight, and speed. Let’s go look at this guy. He may fit what we do,’ and then you kind of determine it from there.”

On the free agency front, it won’t be Bowles handing out the contracts, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be involved in the decision-making that goes on. He sounds prepared for whatever lies ahead.

“It’s going to work out the way it’s meant to work out one way or the other. You can hope for things and wish for things. Like I said, we [have] time now. The league year hasn’t started yet, so we have time, and this is a time to talk and meet and try to iron out some kinks. You have to prepare for the worst, you have to prepare for the [best], so either way – and I’m hoping this the right way in the way that Baker [Mayfield] and Mike [Evans] comes back – because you know, those guys are two great players, you have to prepare for it, as a coach, so and that’s all we’re doing.”

Jason Licht, Todd Bowles, and the rest of the Bucs’ front office and coaching staff still have a lot on their plate. They have a lot to digest when balancing the present and the future. Not only is the focus on 2024 and getting all of the new coaches up to speed and ingratiated, but making moves that continue to build out the next contender. It is only at that point that all of this will be something to savor.

The post Jason Licht, Todd Bowles Discuss Bucs’ Offseason Plans appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report