TAMPA — It was two weeks ago today that Bucs general manager Jason Licht made the call to Tom Brady’s agent during the negotiating period in hopes of landing the greatest quarterback of all time.
What’s it feel like to have Brady on your team?
“I’m asking myself the same thing every once in a while. It feels kind of like a dream,” Licht said Monday on ESPN’s Get Up! "It was a great acquisition for us during this time with a lot of things that’s going on in the world with the health crisis. It’s been a nice escape to know that we have Tom Brady.
“It was two weeks ago today that the legal tampering or the negotiation period started when we made the first call to his agent (Donald Yee) and it seems like two months ago now. But when we made the first call at 12 o’clock and he said, ‘You made a good decision to call,’ we knew we might have a good chance of getting him.”
As we have documented, Bucs coach Bruce Arians wanted to upgrade the quarterback position after watching opponents score 112 points off turnovers by Jameis Winston, which included 30 interceptions and five lost fumbles. The Bucs made a list: Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, then Winston, in that order.
“We spent a lot of time this offseason, as soon as the season ended, meeting, evaluating every quarterback, every player like we always do — but especially quarterbacks that we thought could be potential (unrestricted free agents),” Licht said. "Coaches, my scouts, did an in-depth, very detailed work on all of them and planning on all of them, which one of them could potentially upgrade us ... and Bruce made it clear in some interviews that Tom Brady was one and we did not leave Jameis Winston out of the plan.
“As soon as Wednesday rolled around and we were able to talk to Tom Brady, we had a great conversation, Bruce and I, we talked to him for over an hour and a half. And he made it clear in the conversation that he was very, very interested. It was almost like a recruitment on his part telling us why it would make sense for him to come to Tampa Bay. And the following day we signed him, but it was at the phone call that we realized, we felt like had him.”
Licht said the Bucs don’t believe Brady’s skills have diminished or that he will have any trouble playing in Arians’ vertical passing game.
“Well, the tape to us showed that he had plenty of arm,” Licht said. “We felt that he had the ideal arm for Bruce and his system. He can still throw it deep. We felt the mobility was still the same as he’s always had, which he’s never been able to out-run anybody but he’s good in the pocket in terms of eluding pressure with his poise and his instincts. We did not see a decline in his arm talent whatsoever and in fact we felt like he could play for over two years for us. Hopefully, that’s the case.”
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Licht hit on a couple other topics.
On the chances of signing free agent receiver Antonio Brown, a notion Arians has shot down:
“We have two really outstanding receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,” Licht said. “Right now, there’s only so much money that can go around, there are no plans to sign any other receiver at this time. Antonio is someone Bruce has come out and had some words about and Bruce knows him better than all of us. Right now, I would just say we’re focused on other areas of the team.”
On conducting draft preparation during the social distancing required during the pandemic:
“At least for me, I’ve been able to sit and watch a lot of tape, more than I normally would at this time," Licht said. “I’ve also been able to pick up the phone and call a lot of prospects. It seems like I’m a little bit more in tune to the draft this year than I ever have been, where I have to rely on my staff, which is a great staff by the way. Maybe they’re not happy I’m a little bit more hyper-focused on it. But we’ll make the best out of it and there’s not a lot of knocks on my door besides my kids. It’s fewer and farther between than would be if I were in the office, so there are some aspects to this I’m kind of enjoying.”