The Buccaneers again re-signed one of their own to a new deal, but not who many were expecting.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have extended the contract of left tackle Donovan Smith on a two-year deal worth $31.8 million with $30 million of it guaranteed over the next two seasons. It will lock Smith up through the 2023 season. With the new deal, Smith will collect on four consecutive years of guaranteed money totaling $57 million.
So there’s a bit to unpack here. For starters, the way Smith stepped up in the playoffs, it’s great to see one of the unsung heroes of the Super Bowl run get rewarded. However, wow that is a lot of guaranteed dough. What this boils down to is essentially a lucrative prove-it deal.
Yes, when you hear “prove-it” deals, it’s generally a one-year deal to see if the player is up to snuff and worth a long-term investment. In the case of Smith, since entering the league in 2015,
the former second-round pick out of Penn State has had an up-and-down career thus far. A real roller coaster if you will. However, in 2020 he did step up, especially in the playoffs, for his best season yet. Smith’s maturation before our eyes was absolutely colossal in the Buccaneers making a run.
The thing is, Smith is still the weak link on the offensive line. With this deal, the Buccaneers either will look like geniuses or may have to cut bait and move on. The ball is completely in Smith’s court here, and if he starts 2021 like he ended 2020, the Buccaneers will have a pretty much perfect offensive line for Tom Brady. Now that Smith has and will be securing several bags, it’s time to find out just exactly the quality of player Donovan Smith is moving forward. This isn’t to say that he hasn’t proved what he can do, he has and deserved a raise, but he has to prove that this type of production can sustain long term and not just a flash in the pan. In simplest terms, it’s time to put up or shut up. However, if this is one of the team’s more pressing concerns going forward, the Bucs are in outstanding shape.