TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Bucs general manager Jason Licht is tasked with protecting Tom Brady for the next two seasons.
Brady will be 43 when he plays his first game with Tampa Bay, but Licht said he's not willing to sacrifice the future in order to protect one player for one or two seasons.
"If you try to go for the guy that you think is only going to play next year, and if you expect him to come in and make an instant impact, you’re fooling yourself a little bit," Licht said, via video chat. "All of these players are going to need some developmental time, especially with the backdrop that we’re in right now."
Without the luxury of pre-draft private workouts and in-person interviews, Licht said the team might have to rely more on players they think are already mentally ahead of the game.
"There may be a focus on intelligence and the ability to pick up things than there has been in prior years," he said.
NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has the Bucs drafting Georgia all-American offensive lineman Andrew Thomas with the 14th overall pick. His colleagues seem to agree.
"Offensive linemen are hard to come by. Their skill set is hard to come by. Their body type is hard to come by. So that’s something that you need," said Draft host Maria Taylor. "Y’all got a quarterback coming in that you might want to protect. So it might be a good idea to go ahead and make that offensive line really, really strong and have some great backups and great rookies."
Licht said his initial conversations with Brady have been more about what he's excited to work with and less about pieces they could possibly add through the draft or free agency.