Bucs journal: Bruce Arians says GM Jason Licht is why he’s here

Also: Logjam at receiver; expect additions to the offensive line.
coach Bruce Arians, taking the field before the preseason game against the Dolphins on Friday, says the Bucs having Jason Licht as general manager was "huge" for him deciding to join the team. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
coach Bruce Arians, taking the field before the preseason game against the Dolphins on Friday, says the Bucs having Jason Licht as general manager was "huge" for him deciding to join the team. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Aug. 18, 2019

TAMPA — There were a lot of reasons Bruce Arians decided to come out of retirement to coach the Bucs.

He missed coaching in the NFL. He believed in quarterback Jameis Winston. He was able to hire most of his former assistant coaches.

But the biggest reason? Well, if you take him at his word, it was the chance to work with general manager Jason Licht, who was given a matching four-year contract with a club option in 2023 a few days after Arians was hired in January.

“I’m surprised it just got out,’’ Arians said Sunday of Licht’s new deal, which was revealed Saturday by the Tampa Bay Times. “It was huge for me because I trust him, I respect him, and he’s the reason I’m here.’’

In a way, Arians is right. Licht was in charge of the coaching search and convinced Arians, 66, to return to the sideline.

Licht, who has a 27-53 record as Bucs GM and no playoff appearances in five seasons, had signed a one-year extension through 2019 last year.

Hall intriguing receiver prospect

The most competitive position in training camp is receiver, where only Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman appear to be virtual locks to make the final roster.

The front-runner for the No. 4 spot appeared to be Justin Watson, but Arians said not to assume he’s a lock.

That would leave Bobo Wilson, who is a valuable special-teams player; Scotty Miller, a sixth-round draft pick this year who has missed the preseason with a hamstring injury; undrafted free agent Spencer Schnell, who had seven catches for 119 yards at Pittsburgh in the preseason opener Aug. 9; DaMarkus Lodge, who has been limited by injuries; and Anthony Johnson.

But the Bucs have added an interesting prospect: rookie Emanuel Hall, claimed off waivers from the Bears last week.

Hall, 6 feet 2 and 201 pounds, is an impressive athlete who runs a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and at the combine had a broad jump of 141 inches, the second longest in combine history. His vertical jump was 43.5 inches.

Hall also was highly productive in college at Missouri. His 2,016 career receiving yards rank 10th in school history. He had 16 career touchdowns and last season averaged 22.4 yards per catch.

The Bears paid him a $42,000 bonus to sign after the draft.

A pelvic injury probably prevented him from being drafted. The Bucs liked him out of Missouri and wanted a closer look.

“I’m excited to be here,’’ Hall said. “This opportunity is in my plan. Nobody wants to be sent to different teams. But for me, I think there’s a plan for everything.

“This offense is really good. Jameis (Winston) can throw that thing. The scheme fits my skill set.

Hall said injuries set him back but he he’s more than a vertical threat.

Arians handicapped the receiver field.

“(Miller) needs to get back out there,’’ he said. “He’s missing valuable time? But we don’t want him before he’s ready. Lodge is getting back out there. … ‘Schnelly’ has done a good job. (Johnson) has done a good job, so those guys are battling for that fifth spot. Bobo is having a heck of a camp. We’ve kind of limited him. He was playing three positions. Now he’s playing one, and he’s excelling at it.’’

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The wire

The Bucs feel pretty good about their starting offensive line, with Alex Cappa the newcomer at right guard. But the lack of depth is an issue, particularly at tackle and center/guard. Arians said the Bucs may be busy utilizing waivers. ““But (the Bucs’ current players are) picking it up. They’re getting better,’’ he said.