Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Patriots, Bengals
There’s no nice way to put it, Donovan Smith was awful for the Buccaneers in 2022 and one of the most frustrating players on the team. Always good for a handful of bad holding penalties each game, some of which came as momentum-killers, Smith was ranked by Pro Football Focus ranked as the 68th tackle in the league.
Granted, he played tough through an elbow injury so as to not further deplete the Bucs offensive line — which is very admirable and worth tipping the cap to — his time with the team seems to be over.
He still has a year left on his contract, but there’s no way the Bucs will deem him worth the hefty price tag he carries. Smith’s cap hit is over $17 million but Tampa Bay can save $15.2 million by cutting or trading him after June 1st and can do so knowing there will likely be interest in him throughout the league.
A team desperate for offensive line help might bring him in on a cheaper deal. The Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals both come to mind, as do the New England Patriots. Chicago needs to find protection for Justin Fields and Smith could serve as a veteran presence on a young team while also using his stint with the Bears to get back to the player he was before. The Bengals and Patriots are intriguing in that they have coaching staffs that might be able to tap back into the things that made Smith a solid lineman and also coach the mistakes out of his game.
Try committing the number of holding penalties Smith did this year under Belichick and see how long that lasts.