Jason Licht

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Bucs GM On Brady, Gronk, Jones

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has been heavily criticized over the years, but he managed to come away with the league’s biggest prize this offseason. So, how does it feel to land Tom Brady?

It feels damn good,” Licht said on Thursday (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine).

The GM also recognizes his shortcomings, saying “a lot of [the criticism] was deserved.” The Bucs have gone 34-62 in Licht’s six years at the helm, but that could all be quickly forgotten if Brady is able to lead them to a Super Bowl championship.

Here are some of the highlights from Licht’s virtual chat:

  • Licht expressed confidence in Ronald Jones, signaling that the running back position might not be high on their to-do list. “We do think Ronald hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be,” Licht said (via the team website). “He made a huge jump from year one to year two. He didn’t have to do much to do that because year two wasn’t very good for him. But year two, we felt very good about where he came, and we think he still has a tremendous amount of upside.” Jones, a former second-round pick, had a strong start to the 2019 season as a backup to Peyton Barber. Later, he was bumped up to the starting lineup, but his production took a nosedive. He also missed some key blocks on blitzes, an issue that he’ll have to correct if he wants to be a regular this year.
  • No matter what’s going on in the news cycle, tight end Rob Gronkowski seems to remain front and center. Brady’s arrival in Tampa has fueled speculation that Gronk could attempt a reunion with his longtime pal, but Licht didn’t take the bait. “Well he’s doing a pretty good job in Wrestlemania right now,” Licht said (Twitter link via Laine), referring to Gronk’s recent WWE appearance. “I have no idea if he’d want to play.” It’s worth noting that the Patriots still hold his rights, so a return with the Bucs or any other club would require cooperation from Bill Belichick & Co.
  • Earlier this week, Tom Brady sat down with Howard Stern to discuss his move to Tampa and what led him to leave the Patriots.

Brady Fallout: Bucs, Belichick, Colts, Hoyer

The Buccaneers‘ signing of the most accomplished free agent in NFL history triggered a ripple effect in several cities. That started in Charlotte. Although neither Bruce Arians nor Jason Licht spoke to Tom Brady until Wednesday of last week, the Bucs believed they had a “shell of a deal” with Brady by Tuesday, Peter King of NBC Sports reports. This was hours before the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced he would no longer return to the Patriots. The Bucs’ discussions with Brady’s agent, Don Yee, Tuesday prompted them to bow out of the Teddy Bridgewater pursuit, King adds. Bridgewater’s Panthers offer prompted the Bucs to give him an answer, and they chose to stay in the Brady pursuit without a full commitment. The Bucs had been linked to Bridgewater for weeks.

At February’s end, the Bucs’ quarterback hierarchy went Brady-Bridgewater-Jameis Winston, King notes. Tampa Bay had also been linked to Philip Rivers in February, but it became clear the Colts were his top option.

Here is the latest fallout from the Bucs’ Brady signing:

  • Brady’s camp expressed interest in the Colts, but King notes the interest was not mutual. The prospect of a Rivers-Colts partnership surfaced shortly after the Chargers revealed they would not re-sign him, and while the notion of Rivers-over-Brady sounds interesting based on the veterans’ accolades, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets the Colts’ preference of going with a one-year quarterback arrangement probably did not align with Brady’s hopes of a multiyear commitment. Rivers signed a one-year, $25MM deal; Brady became a Buccaneer for two years and $50MM fully guaranteed. Brady also expressed interest in the 49ers, and the Titans were a long-rumored suitor. These franchises joined the Colts and Raiders in leaving the Brady race early.
  • Early this offseason, Brady’s camp put out feelers to other teams, and ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham notes many executives around the league viewed the quarterback as being driven by ill will toward Bill Belichick that they could not tell if he wanted out of New England or merely wanted Robert Kraft to step in and broker a new Pats deal. Belichick refused to give Brady the extension he sought last summer, and Wickersham adds that a Brady-Belichick conversation in late 2017 about the quarterback’s future with the Patriots ended with a “blowup.” This meeting appears to have happened just before Wickersham’s “tension in New England”-centered report that indicated Kraft’s intervention helped drive the Jimmy Garoppolo-to-San Francisco deal. The Patriots gave Brady an incentive package in 2018, leading to his extension-in-name-only 2019 contract.
  • As for the Patriots‘ plans, they may actually be planning a Brian HoyerJarrett Stidham quarterback battle. Hoyer could have earned more money elsewhere but wanted to return to New England because he was told he will have a chance to vie for the starting job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (video link). The Patriots, as of now, do not have Andy Dalton on their radar and are viewed as being high on Stidham, who has attempted four NFL passes.

Buccaneers GM Discusses Jameis Winston, QBs

While Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians couldn’t commit to Jameis Winston, general manager Jason Licht acknowledged that the quarterback is still an option for next season. Talking to reporters, Licht noted that Winston is a candidate to stick around next year.

“We’re not saying we don’t want Jameis,” the executive said (via The Athletic’s Greg Auman on Twitter). “We’re just saying we want to check what’s potentially behind Door No. 2, 3, 4, just so we can gather as much information as possible before we make the decision of what we do.”

We heard last week that the organization was considering a two-year deal for the former first-overall pick, with the contract being guaranteed at a franchise-tag-level rate (of approximately $27MM) for the first year followed by an option year. There are some who believe that the front office will simply slap Winston with the franchise or transition tag, although a new CBA could complicate matters.

While Winston set career-highs in passing yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) in 2019, he also set a career-high (and led the NFL) with 30 interceptions. Perhaps recent LASIK surgery will help reduce those turnover numbers in 2020.

It sounds like Tom Brady could be behind one of Licht’s proverbial doors. The Buccaneers were mentioned as one of three teams that continue to be associated with the future Hall of Famer and impending free agent (along with the Raiders and Chargers).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Signed Jason Licht To Five-Year Extension

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the executive inked a five-year contract extension with the franchise this offseason.

The deal, which wasn’t reported until now, was signed in January just days after the team made Bruce Arians its head coach. Arians and Licht have been good friends for quite some time and Arians likely wouldn’t have joined Tampa Bay if not for their relationship. Arians’ deal is also for five seasons, so the Bucs have tethered the pair’s future together.

Tampa Bay hasn’t been great since Licht took over back in 2014. The team is 27-53 in the five seasons since he took the GM gig with poor defense and inconsistent quarterback play plaguing the team.

Arians is expected to help with the quarterback issues. He’s helped get the best out of a number of quarterbacks, including Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. The defense is another story, as the Bucs finished dead last in defensive DVOA last year and didn’t make any major moves this offseason to improve their putrid pass rush.

Extra Points: Millen, Long, Bears, McCarthy, Bucs, Koetter, Licht

We heard yesterday that Mike McCarthy was interested in the Cardinals’ head coaching job, assuming Steve Wilks is fired as is expected, but McCarthy might actually have his sights set on a different destination. While there is still a chance Dirk Koetter retains his job in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers’ gig is the one McCarthy “has been connected most to”, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. While Breer writes that Koetter is likely to be gone, he says that Tampa GM Jason Licht’s job status is “murkier.”

It’ll be a pivotal offseason for the Buccaneers, as they have to decide on what to do with their coaching staff, their front office, and their quarterback. Right now it seems likely that Jameis Winston is back in 2019, but that’s not a guarantee. McCarthy will seemingly have his pick of a couple of jobs, and will likely want to go somewhere with a quarterback in place. If he does go to the Bucs, that could be an indication the team plans on sticking with Winston.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • We heard recently that ex-Lions GM Matt Millen was having serious health issues, and now we have an update. The former four-time Super Bowl champion and Penn State star had been in need of a heart transplant, and finally was able to receive one. After months in the hospital waiting, Millen had successful heart transplant surgery, according to Peter King of NBC Sports. The heart was a “perfect match” and Millen is recovering well. Since leaving the Lions, Millen has worked for NBC, ESPN, FOX, and NFL Network as a commentator. It’s great news, and everyone here at PFR is wishing Millen the best.
  • The Bears have already clinched the NFC North, but are still fighting for a first round by and the two seed. They’ll be getting a boost on offense, as it appears that starting right guard Kyle Long may return for their Week 17 game against the Vikings. Long has been on injured reserve since early November with a foot injury, but coach Matt Nagy said he’s “cautiously optimistic” Long will play this week, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. Mitchell Trubisky has struggled at times in recent weeks, so getting Long back will be good for him.
  • In case you missed it, Adam Gase isn’t necessarily safe in Miami, but the Dolphins won’t be pursuing Jim Harbaugh.

South Notes: Colts, Bucs, Falcons, Newton

Although Matt Eberflus was tied to Josh McDaniels when he accepted the offer to become the Colts‘ defensive coordinator, Stephen Holder of The Athletic notes (subscription required) Chris Ballard was the driving force behind the then-Cowboys linebackers coach moving to Indianapolis. The second-year Colts GM held Ebeflus in such high regard that he may have been the DC choice without McDaniels’ involvement, though likely not had the Colts hired a defensively geared coach. But in nearly all of the interviews the Colts conducted, Holder reports Eberflus’ name was broached. Despite a host of young players for a unit not expected to be particularly strong, the first-year DC has the Colts holding the No. 11 DVOA defense going into Week 15. The 2017 Colts produced the No. 27 DVOA defense.

The latest from some South teams, continuing to Tampa.

  • It is possible DeSean Jackson has played his final game with the Buccaneers. Playing on a contract that includes no additional guaranteed money, the 32-year-old wide receiver had his injured thumb immobilized, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Jackson has been unable to grip footballs with his injured hand, forcing him to miss the past two Bucs games. He had previously played through this malady, per Auman (on Twitter). Tampa Bay’s top deep threat hopes to play again this season, but that’s not a lock. And with a nonguaranteed $10MM base salary on the Bucs’ books next year, Jackson is a prime release candidate in 2019.
  • Most believe Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has a better chance of returning in 2019 than Dirk Koetter does, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes. Despite the Bucs still staring at what will likely soon become an 11-season playoff drought, Licht’s ability to draft and extend the likes of Mike Evans and Cameron Brate has pleased ownership, Laine adds. Licht signed an extension that takes him through the 2019 season, but it remains possible the Glazers move on from he, Koetter and Jameis Winston and start fresh next year.
  • Arthur Blank said he has not lost faith in Thomas Dimitroff or Dan Quinn, but the Falcons have since endured another one-sided defeat and now sit 4-9. They already made other moves, like replacing highly paid right tackle Ryan Schraeder with Ty Sambrailo, for the future. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes more losses will continue to cause suspicion as to whether Blank will change his mind and pivot to a new power structure.
  • Derek Newton‘s Saints contract is a two-year pact, according to his agency (Twitter link). It appears the Saints will use their upcoming practices to gauge whether the former longtime Texans right tackle is fit enough to the point he could be more than an injury fill-in.

Buccaneers Extend GM Jason Licht

The Buccaneers have given Jason Licht an extension, but it’s not a lengthy one. Only one year has been added to Licht’s deal, keeping him in place through 2019, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The news was first reported by Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com

The Buccaneers signed Licht to a four-year deal in 2014 which included a fifth-year option. The Bucs picked up Licht’s option last year, leaving him with lame duck status. He has some additional security now, but not much more.

Under Licht, the Bucs have been unable to snap their playoff drought, which dates back to 2007. In four years, the Bucs have gone through two head coaches and have managed only one winning season, so ownership is understandably wary about committing to Licht in the long run.

It may take a playoff berth this year for Licht to keep his job, but that’s a tall task given the level of competition in the NFC South and Jameis Winston’s three-game ban to start the year. Las Vegas oddsmakers indicate that Dirk Koetter‘s seat is among the hottest of any NFL coach and, logically, the same should go for the man staffing the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Accident Linked To DeSean Jackson

Tampa, Fla. police are investigating a crash on Christmas Eve that involved a vehicle registered to Buccaneers receiver DeSean JacksonMike Garafolo of NFL.com reportsDeSean Jackson (vertical)

The vehicle, a Chevy Silverado, was found unattended after it appeared to leave the road and struck a tree Sunday evening. Police discovered 6.3 grams of marijuana and also found two .38 caliber hollow-point bullets in the vehicle. In the state of Florida, the bullets are legal and any marijuana less than 20 grams is considered a misdemeanor offense. The police report indicated officers made contact with Jackson, who responded to the scene.

Per Garofolo’s source, “Jackson initially declined to cooperate, then gave officers the name of the alleged driver but declined to assist officers in getting the driver back to the scene.”

A representative of Jackson, Denise White, said “It was a friend of DeSean’s who borrowed his car while he was out of town. None of what was in the car was his obviously. He’s dealing with the person that was using it without his knowledge privately. The incident is being handled.”

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht responded to the reports in a statement:

“We are aware of a one-car accident involving a vehicle registered to DeSean Jackson on the night of Dec. 24. Our understanding is that DeSean has been in contact with authorities and is cooperating with the investigation.”

Jackson, who was inactive and did not travel to the team’s Week 16 matchup with Carolina, has tallied 50 receptions for 668 yards in his first season with the team. No arrests have been made and the case remains open.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jon Gruden, Buccaneers

While Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht is expected to remain in place, the “current thinking” is that Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter will be fired, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden is a candidate to return to Tampa Bay, per Florio, and many in league circles are “convinced” the Buccaneers will indeed make a run at Gruden, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.Jon Gruden (Vertical)

Gruden, now an ESPN commentator, has been linked to a number of vacancies in recent seasons — including the Rams and Colts during the 2017 hiring cycle — but has always opted to return to the booth. However, Gruden didn’t rule out a return to coaching earlier this year, and has in fact been contacting former assistants regarding their availability, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

While Gruden hasn’t been on a sideline in nearly a decade, he’s still only 54 years old. He’s reportedly worked through any issues with the Buccaneers ownership group that would prevent a return to Tampa Bay, and while the club typically waits until after the season to finalize coaching hires, a Gruden addition could occur quickly, reports Pelissero.

In seven seasons with the Buccaneers, Gruden posted a 57-55 record and won a Super Bowl trophy. Prior to leading Tampa Bay, Gruden managed a 38-26 mark with the Raiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.