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09 March 2016

Transcript: General Manager Jason Licht & Head Coach Dirk Koetter Free Agency Media Availability (3/9/16)

GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
 
(Opening statement)
“Good afternoon, guys. We’re very excited to announce that we’ve signed Doug [Martin] to a long-term contract. He’s one of the pivotal parts of our offense. He obviously gains a lot of yards, but it’s really the way that he gains them – with his angry style of running that makes everybody around him just love playing with him. The linemen like to block for him better than they would just a guy. He’s a special, special guy and he’s now in an elite category of running backs that make it to their second contract. We’re very excited for Doug and being able to reward one of our own. It was a great draft pick – it was a great draft pick by this organization.”
 
(On if Martin’s eagerness to remain in Tampa helped in the negotiation process)
“I’ve said before that in any negotiation there are obstacles, but one thing that helped was just his desire to be here and our desire to want him. There’s always some bickering back and forth with any negotiation, but, at the end of the day, 99.9 percent of this was pretty easy. And, like I said, he’s earned his money and we wanted to reward him. He’s earned every penny and we’re excited for him.”
 
(On Licht re-signing core players and the message that move sends to younger Buccaneers)
“The best organizations, the ones that are consistently competing, they’ve built their rosters – a majority of the time – through the draft. This just tells [players] to keep playing hard, get better, take this coaching and you’ll get paid.”
 
(On Martin’s deal being the kind of thing that a general manager doesn’t mind giving a player)
“No, it’s not [something we mind]. We’re equally excited as the player is. In this case, Doug.”
 
(On why Martin is not a ‘dime-a-dozen running back’)
“Doug has overcome some adversity with the injuries. He had a couple of years where he was banged up and, not by us, but he was written off by a lot of people. Coach [Dirk] Koetter was one of his biggest fans when he was first hired here. To overcome that adversity and be able to do what [Martin] did, tells you that he’s something special; he’s not a dime-a-dozen guy.”
 
(On continuity for the offense and if it matters)
“That’s huge. We’d like to keep it going like that, too. That’s huge. Everybody loves Doug. Not just myself and Dirk, but the entire staff and all the players in that locker room. They love Doug; they love the way he plays.”
 
(On further plans for the free agency period)
“We’re taking a look at a lot of different things. We want to keep good players. Today is about Doug, so we’ll keep it at that right now, but it’s the free agency period, so it’s an active period for a lot of teams, where everybody is looking for players that fit their schemes and fit what we want to do.”
 
(On the retirement of guard Logan Mankins and if that changes the team’s plans for free agency)
“We have some good players on our team right now that we feel could fill in for Logan and do a good job. But we’re always looking. You’re always looking to get good linemen on both sides. You’re always looking for good players in general.”
 
(On Martin wanting to test the market)
“I think every player – he really didn’t get a chance to hit the actual free agency at 4 o’clock today – but I think every player wants to test their market and see what their value is. I think our value was the same as everybody else and he wanted to be here. The whole time, he wanted to be here. I told him today after he signed, I said on the first day I was introduced here as the general manager, I took a picture with my family on stage and my, he’s now seven-year-old, he had a Doug Martin jersey on, so I thought that was a prelude of things to come. [Martin] texted me back and he said, ‘Smart boy.’ ”
 
(On if there were any talks with Martin and his agent about matching any potential offers from other teams)
“We keep those things internal, but I’ll just say this: He made it clear throughout the whole process that he wanted to be a Buccaneer. He wanted to be a Buccaneer.”
 
(On concerns about injuries when giving a running back a long-term deal)
“With any player, there’s always a risk of being injured, but he held up for us great last year. He’s just got a great attitude about him and he’s just seemed to be reenergized this year and he knows that he can play at an elite level and we’re all confident that he can.”
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(Opening statement)
“All right, everything Jason said – I don’t have much to add, that was pretty thorough (laughs).”
 
(On keeping Martin motivated after getting his new contract)
“Coaches are part motivators and I think Doug is the right kind of guy. I don’t think that will affect him. I was texting back-and-forth with him afterwards and talking to him about we need him to come back with the same attitude, the same effort and the same preparation that he had last year. He definitely deserves this, he earned it. We just need him to keep it up. Where we think we are headed with this group of guys, as Jason said, Doug is a big part of that. I wouldn’t expect any drop-off in that area.”
 
(On Martin’s effort level last season)
“I’ve told several people that from the very first day of OTAs until the very last day of the season, every time Doug touched the ball on the practice field, he hit the hole hard, he hit it full speed and he made it like it was a real play. So when he had success even in preseason games last year, it wasn’t a surprise, because that’s how he was looking in practice every day. I think Doug, when he came back last offseason and went to work in the offseason program, he definitely had something to prove. He had that mindset and was able to carry it all the way through.”
 
(On the team wanting to bring Martin back)
“Everybody was transparent in this deal. We wanted Doug back all along, Doug said he wanted to be back, Doug likes it here. As Jason said, Doug’s a popular guy in the locker room because of the style of play that he has. Doug was our top choice all along. Thankfully it got done today.”
 
(On replacing retired guard Logan Mankins)
“First, Logan, 11 years, I think seven Pro Bowls, one of the best players and even a better guy. A Pro Bowl player and an even better man. There’s not a lot of Logan Mankins’ walking around out there. I think Jason’s statement [earlier this week] – he was with [Mankins] in New England – I thought was very apropos.  We’re going to miss a lot of things about Logan, but life goes on. The next man has to step up. The guys who are out there, whoever’s here, we will have them ready.”
 
(On free agent wide receiver Roddy White, who Koetter coached in Atlanta)
“I’m on record of saying what I think about Roddy White, but today’s about Doug Martin. Today’s Doug’s day. Everything else is ongoing.”
 
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