TAMPA, Fla. — When Bruce Arians took to the celebration stage following the Bucs’ Super Bowl championship boat parade, he told player after player that they weren’t going anywhere.
General Manager Jason Licht echoed those sentiments.
At the time, Licht didn’t give it much thought. Though, had he done so then, we may not see all the players returning for another run at a championship.
When he joined the Rich Eisen Show, Licht brought up the stresses and pressures of re-signing guys like Shaquil Barrrett, Lavonte David, Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh and the reported agreement with Antonio Brown. However, when those agreements were going down, he didn’t quite realize that he was on the cusp of accomplishing something that hadn’t been done in over three decades.
“There’s quite a few of us here, spinning a lot of plates. No one person can do this on their own, so I have a great staff. We didn’t necessarily prioritize anyone over the other, we kind of prioritized every one of them. And, every one was unique − every negotiation,” Licht told Rich Eisen. “So, we were finally able to get through all of them.”
Licht then admitted he didn’t know that the last time a Super Bowl-winning team returned all of its starters was 1977.
“If I would have known that then, I would have been a lot more stressed about it. Once Bruce made the proclamation at the boat parade and then I doubled down and said the same thing, I turned around and said, ‘Oh no, what did I just do?’” Licht continued.
“We were confident guys wanted to come back. It’s a great environment, great head coach, great ownership, great quarterback. So, at the end of the day, everyone wanted to be here, so that’s exciting.”
The pressure never really registered with Licht, but is the pressure going to register with the team?
You would tend to believe that with Tom Brady still there, he would navigate the waters like he has every other season and help his teammates do the same; but this year is different. This year, there’s a gigantic target on the backs of every Buccaneer that sets foot on the field. They’re the champs. They’re the top dogs of the NFL and they will get the toughest fight possible from every opponent they face.
Bringing back everyone only tends to accentuate that point.
The New England Patriots want to prove they can beat their legendary quarterback. The Buffalo Bills want to prove they can put up a better fight than the team that beat them in the AFC Championship last season against the Bucs. Every NFC East team wants to prove they aren’t the worst division in football. More so than any year in the past for Tampa Bay, there is no “easy win.” There is no lesser opponent.
But if these Buccaneers want to prove they can win another ring, they can’t ever let the pressure show.
For more on this story and for more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, check out the Locked On Bucs Podcast.