Jason Licht: Pierre-Paul’s impact big enough to part with draft pick

Bucs GM, seeking help for league's worst pass rush, saw Pro Bowl end as worth "strain" of losing a third-rounder.
Published March 27, 2018

Bucs general manager Jason Licht appreciates how much of an asset a third-round draft pick can be, but given the chance to add a top-tier pass rusher, he paid a price to land Jason Pierre-Paul from the Giants last week.

"Trust me, I love draft picks," Licht said in talking to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. "I wish we had 20 of them. But in order to get better, and I talk about this with my owners, talk about this with Dirk (Koetter), sometimes you've got to strain to get better. In this case, it's not easy to part with a third-round pick, but sometimes you've got to strain."

The Bucs have actively addressed their defensive line, trading for Pierre-Paul and his $12.5 million salary, and signing end Vinny Curry and tackles Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein. There's a combined $27 million invested next year in a major upgrade, but Licht said pass-rushing talent is hard to come by.

"It's tough to get," Licht said. "It's not quite as hard as a franchise quarterback, but it's up there. It's difficult. The Buccaneers haven't had a 10-sack guy for how many years? 12? 13? It's a tough position, not as easy as some people think to get."

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Licht, meeting with the league's general managers this week in Orlando, said the group usually compliments each other on their gains, but he thought he'd gotten more praise for what the Bucs have been able to do.

"This year felt a little different," he said. "It felt like they went out of their way, members of other clubs we're close with, to say 'You just got two great guys from our locker room. We wanted them back. It just didn't work out.' This year, I didn't feel like we went and signed someone the other team was casting off. That's a good feeling."