Kicker Roberto Aguayowas released by the Buccaneers on Saturday in what had to be one of the most difficult decisions of general manager Jason Licht's career. Licht put himself way out there, trading up and selecting Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft only to see the most accurate kicker in ACC history battle with mental demons all season long.
"You never feel good when you shatter someone's dream," Licht said. "That is always tough, especially someone you had such high hopes for. You don't have good feelings about that. It is a little bit of a sense of, I don't want to say relief, but we've ripped off the band-aid, and we move on. We're moving forward."
The rest of the interview is well worth your time. Licht does seem pretty broken up about the whole thing and worries that Tampa Bay did not challenge Aguayo enough during his rookie season. That being said, I wonder if there was something more the Buccaneers could have done to protect Aguayo and actually help him on his way. As the MMQB noted: "NFL Films got the whole scene and will show some of it Tuesday night at 10 p.m. (on Hard Knocks)."
This is clearly someone suffering from football's version of the yips; a deep, mental pit that some players find themselves in and can't climb out of. Is having the worst moment of your life nationally televised going to help? Was there a way the Buccaneers could have done this behind closed doors?
I applaud the Bears for giving Aguayo a second chance, who claimed the kicker off waivers on Sunday. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery or a different coach and Jeff Rodgers, the special teams coordinator in Chicago, was around for Matt Prater's development into a Pro Bowler with the Broncos.
Licht also deserves a hand. I'm sure he was as kind to Aguayo as he could have been. He was also quick to get out ahead of the story, admitting the mistakes he made.
Hopefully in the future this will shift the conversation from Aguayo was a bust to the Bucs made a mistake taking him that high. General managers determine value when they select a player in the draft -- not players. Aguayo never asked for this, now he faces the Sisyphean task of putting it all behind him.