Donovan Smith was awful last year, there’s no other way to put it. His play was a microcosm of the season as a whole because he should have been so much better than he was yet we all watched the bottom fall out hard on a once solid left tackle.
He also represents the uphill battle the Bucs have this offseason. Smith needs to go, that much seems clear, but replacing him isn’t going to be easy. Good left tackles are hard to find, and moving off Smith means needing to find someone who won’t give the Bucs more of the same.
It’s impossible to overstate how frustrating it was to watch Smith sink deeper and deeper into the depths of bad offensive line play last year, or how much of a bummer it was to witness. 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.
Smith played tough through an elbow injury so as to not further deplete the Bucs offensive line — which is notably admirable and worth tipping the cap to. He also was a key part of one of the most exciting Tampa Bay offenses in franchise history, anchoring a line in 2020 and 2021 that protected Tom Brady to the point of him nearly winning MVP in both of those seasons.
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.