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Bucs signed general manager Jason Licht to new deal

The pact, completed in January, mirrors that of coach Bruce Arians: four years and a club option for 2023.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Published Aug. 17
Updated Aug. 18

TAMPA — In so many ways, coach Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht are a package deal for the Bucs.

It’s unlikely the Bucs could have added one without keeping the other.

A few days after hiring Arians in January following the firing of Dirk Koetter, the team signed Licht to a new contract with the same structure and term as Arians’: four years with a club option for a fifth in 2023.

Financial terms are undisclosed.

Licht had signed a one-year extension through 2019 last year.

Licht, 48, has a 27-53 record in five seasons with the Bucs. That includes a 9-7 mark in 2016, the only winning season during his tenure, which hasn’t produced a playoff appearance.

Licht declined to comment about his contract status when approached by the Tampa Bay Times late Friday after the Bucs’ 16-14 preseason win over the Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium.

It’s clear that without Licht remaining as general manager, the Bucs may have had a tougher time talking Arians, 66, out of retirement.

During negotiations with the two-time NFL coach of the year, Arians made it clear he would join Tampa Bay if he had Jameis Winston at quarterback, most of his former coaches on his staff and Licht as his general manager.

Licht was the director and later vice president of player personnel with the Cardinals in 2012-13. Arians began his five-year coaching stint with them in 2013.

Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said at the league meetings in Arizona in March that Arians was able to dictate a few conditions required for his return to the sideline.

“It was into the process where we knew (Arians) had interest but it would only be in certain situations, and he knew Jason and worked with him,” Glazer said. “It was because of that that I think he was comfortable coming in. I know he didn’t want to go to any situation. He had the experience with Jason, so he knew (Licht) would be helpful in helping him succeed.’’

Glazer credited Licht for building a solid nucleus of players through the draft, a list that includes Winston, receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, left tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet, tight end O.J. Howard and linebacker Devin White.

Licht also has had misses, such as using a 2016 second-round pick on Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo, who made only 22 of 31 field-goal attempts (71 percent) as a rookie and was released toward the end of training camp in his second year.

“Well, I think if you look back at drafts, at players that have been drafted and re-signed, we do feel like we have some nucleus of talent on this team,’’ Glazer said. “The record is the record, but it also goes to consistency. We’ve talked about constant change. And we felt important to keep consistency in one of the positions and not have wholesale change.’’

Arians said the Bucs offered him three key ingredients for success: Winston, his staff of coaches and the general manager he wanted to work with.

“When this opportunity came, all the dominos — I just like to say the stars — aligned because we have those three things,’’ Arians said at the time.

So shortly after introducing Arians as coach, the Bucs offered Licht the same contract term.

If he completes this contract, Licht will be the longest-tenured general manager in Bucs history.

“We have great confidence in Jason,’’ Glazer said. “Obviously, the record is the record. And there’s still a story to be told.’’

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLStroud.

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