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The key names on that team are easy for Buccaneer fans to remember, especially as they get added to the team's Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium, and occasionally get called to the Hall of Fame in Canton. Brooks, Sapp, Lynch, Barber, Alstott – players who were drafted, developed and kept in Buccaneer uniforms for many seasons. Then the occasional free agent brought in to provide the missing pieces to the puzzle – Rice, Johnson, Pittman.
"That's always the ultimate goal and that's done when you have successful drafts," said Glazer on Tuesday in Boca Raton, where the NFL is holding its Annual Meeting. "We feel good about the young players that we have, and there's no reason why we can't head in that direction where we're competitive every year. Long, sustained success – we always say that's the goal, not just one year up and then you're back down. We think things are in place to head in that direction. That's why the fans I talk to, myself, my family, we're so excited about the upcoming season and seasons to come."
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Buccaneer drafts in the early years of the current decade, while not necessarily franchise-builders from top to bottom, produced such key players as Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Doug Martin. All three have been re-signed to new long-term contracts. Over the past two years, under the guidance of new General Manager Jason Licht, the Bucs have added significantly to that core with the kind of talent influx that can reshape a team for many seasons to come. Starters from those two drafts include quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet and linebacker Kwon Alexander, and several other players from those classes could still claim spots in the starting lineup.
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The Bucs set several franchise records on offense in Winston's first year as a starter, including total yards in a season (6,014). The potential on that side of the ball is obvious, and it's mostly tied up in young draft picks. Tampa Bay's defense, long the franchise's calling card, struggled in 2015 but recent tactical moves in free agency and the upcoming draft will address that issue. At this point, the decision to use the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft on Winston looks like a winner, but the Buccaneers are not going to hang their entire hopes for success on the young passer's arm. Instead, they want to build around him in order to maximize his potential and allow him to grow into his role as the team leader.
"We've got to surround him with good players, which I think we've done on offense, add players on defense, and as he gains experience everything will take care of itself. Everybody else will grow with him. I expect it to be a team effort. But he's really done a good job in his first year and we're looking for improvement in his second year. And we know that nobody works harder than Jameis."