Examining Donovan Smith

February 1st, 2019

Discusses Bucs’ left tackle.

Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith may have Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht over a barrel.

Smith’s contract is up soon and unless the Bucs re-sign him before the free agency dinner bell rings on March 13, the 2015 second-round pick of the Bucs will hit the open market. And from the view of Super Bowl-winning center and NFL Network analyst Shaun O’Hara, all bets are off if Smith makes it to March 13 unsigned.

During NFL Network media availability this week in Atlanta, Joe asked O’Hara about Smith’s situation with the Bucs and whether Tampa Bay should bring the 25-year old back.

In O’Hara’s view, it all boils down to cash.

“Look, he’s a talented player,” O’Hara said from the World Congress Center. “He has some physical tools. He’s a big strong guy. Anytime someone wants to blame a left tackle [for the ills of an offense] I always look at the system and what they are doing and what kind of offense they are running and what is the quarterback doing. If you have a guy back there holding onto the ball, he’s going to make Tony Boselli look bad.

“It is all connected. I think the one thing that is tough now is the economic aspect of it. If you are a free agent, especially as a left tackle, if someone is going to pay you, or overpay you, you have to take it. So it is one of those things where you have to wait it out and see what the market looks like.

“But Donovan can play. Look, I know he has struggled at times and had some ups and downs but, he has a lot of physical tools. One of the best aspects of an offensive lineman is availability, not just ability. Tampa is a tough place to play. It is hot in September, you know? That heat is big. So the fact he has never missed a start is big.”

And therein lies the old Bill Parcells strategy: “Your best ability is your availability.” A cat can be a dominant player but if he is not on the field, it doesn’t matter. For NFL folks, a left tackle you can bank on answering the bell each Sunday’s is critical.

O’Hara believes Smith won’t be unemployed for long if he hits the open market, whether that’s with the Bucs or another team. A young, talented left tackle who has never missed a start will always be attractive to someone because there are always coaches out there who believe they can max out a player’s talent.

One thing Joe has learned in his decade-plus coverage of the Bucs: never underestimate the egos of folks in positions of power in the NFL, including coaches.

A lot of folks like to say the hiring of Bucco Bruce Arians will be good for America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, because it is a second voice. Smith, who was drafted the same year as Jameis, has only known one position coach, George Warhop.

If a second voice is good for Jameis, why not Smith? Besides, it’s not like we are talking about Ereck Flowers here.

60 Responses to “Examining Donovan Smith”

  1. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Licht really needs to prove he has what it takes to be a GM.
    A lot of overdue decisions need to be made.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    And therein lies the rub. Do you take that chance? If you let him walk, you’ll be looking for TWO tackles AND a RG along with everything else this team needs on defense.
    It’s an unenviable position to be in. I mean, we’ve seen this guy take plays off. That’s not acceptable for a LT.

  3. Mikey Says:

    Franchise him, ride him harrrrd this year, go from there.

  4. Phil Says:

    They should resign him.

  5. Joeypoppems Says:

    Tbh, i wouldnt mind if they tag Smith. See what he can do with the new coaches.

    Not smart to go into FA needing possibly 3 starters on the OL

  6. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Sounds good in theory Mikey..

  7. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Over a barrel is right. Don’t think for one moment Donovan doesn’t know this. I can hear it now when Licht starts negotiating. “Ok Donovan we agree to your terms but you have to promise to give 100% effort every play” Donovan, “sure Jason, whatever you say”. Over a barrel

  8. Kalind Says:

    Joe,

    Can they instead put the transition tag on him? Rather than the franchise tag? Lowers the compensation and the price tag right??

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    whether we resign him or not, we still need to draft a T and G….i would prefer we resign him but i dont want us to overpay for him….

    wester and liedkte need to be ready….

    #REALISTKNOWSNOTHING!!!!…GO BUCS!!!!

  10. JJV Says:

    Everyone is replaceable in the NFL- period. Plenty of options if he walks. Free agency, draft, even a trade if needed. No one player should hold a team over a barrel. Even the best of them have or will be replaced one day.

  11. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I agree with Mikey. Smith clearly has a lot of positives mixed in with a few negatives.

    If we let him go how much will his replacement cost? Where will he come from? BA has already said he does not like depending on rookie LT’s it’s just too dangerous.

    OTOH…this year’s draft is primarily defensive players…certainly at the top. IF we go that direction we probably need to trade up to get a generation DL or edge rusher. I’m not too excited about trading up.

    If we trade down there are a half dozen tackles with genuine NFL potential. If we get two picks for one I like the 50-50 chance that one of them will work out.

    I’m not a Gator or a Nole…I root for both teams and tend to watch the most talented…used to be the Noles this year the Gators. You guys who watched all the Gator games can let me know how good Juwaan Taylor is. I suspect he and the overall improvement of the OL helped Felipe Franks finally reach his potential.

    I’ve seen two separate mocks…one has us taking Jonah Williams at #5 the other has us grabbing Taylor. I like them both but not sure either one is worth a #5.

  12. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    JJV Says:
    February 1st, 2019 at 11:55 am
    Everyone is replaceable in the NFL- period. Plenty of options if he walks. Free agency, draft, even a trade if needed. No one player should hold a team over a barrel. Even the best of them have or will be replaced one day.

    ——
    Yeah, but don’t we also need to upgrade at right guard and right tackle? May be too many needs to let him just walk and get nothing for it. I say franchise or transition tag him.

  13. Joe Says:

    Kalind:

    Yes they can.

  14. Alexander Nascimento Says:

    If a second voice is good for Jameis, why not Smith? Besides, it’s not like we are talking about Ereck Flowers here.

    I totally agree

  15. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I think we’re mostly on the same page with this:

    Tag him
    Draft an OT and OG (IMO we should draft an OG in the 2-3rd round or higher depending on trades. We have had issues at OG ever since Mankins left).

    Ideally he proves worthy of long term deal and we find a RG/RT and the line is set for at least the next 3-5 years. That is the best case scenario. But if he doesn’t pan out we at least are covering our bases with another OT in addition to developmental guys like Liedke/Cappa.

  16. Pickgrin Says:

    Smith wants Top 10 LT money – even though his tape clearly shows he’s not worth that kind of investment.

    Donovan had every opportunity to show out last year in a contract year why he is worth a big investment. He didn’t. If anything – he slightly regressed in 2018. Whether it was “couldn’t” or “wouldn’t” – he blew his chance to show up big in a contract year and EARN that $13M per year or whatever he thinks he’s worth from the team that drafted him.

    Let some other team grossly overpay Smith to play matador 2-3 times per game with less than stellar run blocking to boot.

    Once again – Its highly likely the Bucs can get 85-90% of Donovan Smith’s capabilities/performance out of either Wester or Liedke in 2019 – for 10% of the cost it would take to re-sign Smith. That’s easy math.

    Additionally – and I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet – If D. Smith gets paid big on the open market – and plays every game next year as he’s done for 4 straight years – then the Bucs would likely get a 3rd (or at worst 4th rd) compensatory pick in 2020 for letting him walk – IF they play their FA gains vs losses quotient correctly this year.

  17. Hodad Says:

    If you’re going to pay LT franchise money, why not spend it on the Pats LT who’ll be playing in the SB Sunday? The Pats rarely pay anybody, and have their young starting LT coming back from injury next year.

  18. Dapostman Says:

    You are suppose to improve even slightly when you are a young player heading towards your prime years. Smith has not improved at all. He’s the exact same player now as when he was drafted. Winston, Marpet, Humphries, Barber, all improved somewhat. Not Donnie and my feeling is if he hasn’t improved then he has reached his max and isn’t worth signing for big money. Let him walk.

  19. SOEbuc Says:

    I would have no problem starting Liedtke opening day for what Smith would want. From what Liedtke looked like in TC and PS last year, he could dominate. No way think that was a fluke. Extremely strong and sturdy legs with great hands. Smith is soft, slow, fat, jumps, and gets ran around by DEs all day. Liedtke would be getting paid peanuts compared to a new D. Smith contract.

  20. [email protected] Says:

    I hope they can light a fire under smith. Problem is if in a contract year what we saw was a lack of effort what do we think will happen when he gets his money. Those that say well if a new coach is good for jamesis why not smith. I say because Jameis always give full effort no matter what. We can’t say the same for Smith.

  21. Pickgrin Says:

    Franchise Tag for OL will be close to $15M in 2019.

    Transition Tag about $13M….

    Bucs are currently somewhere between $7M>$12M under the cap depending on whether you trust Spotrac or OTC’s #s more….

    That figure does NOT include the roughly $9M needed to sign this years rookies!

    And there are still multiple situations that MUST be addressed –
    – Pay Kwon or draft/pay his replacement
    – Pay Humphries – pretty much a must IMO.
    – Pay $3-5M for a solid vet back-up QB
    – Pay Santos $2-3M unless you are going to brings some UDFA in or something
    – Have to pay Barber probably $2.5-$3M to protect his rights for this year

    Just those mentioned that MUST be addressed is over $20M….

  22. SOEbuc Says:

    *”From what Liedtke looked like in TC and PS last year, he could dominate. No way think that was a fluke.”

    And might I add that was his first time playing OT position from being a previous OG. Might I add that was under Koetter and Warhop.

  23. Robert Says:

    dude can play, not elite, but c+/b-

  24. StoutGospel Says:

    $14mm+ was the LT franchise tag figure for 2018 (2019’s not finalized yet). I don’t want to give even half that to D Smith even for just one year! Hell no.

    Jonah Williams at #5 or likely lower trading down (better value), and coached up would be much more palatable to me.

    AND….we need to START CUTTING PEOPLE. We don’t need a $7 mill backup TE just coming off surgery ($0 cap hit if released), and we sure as hell don’t need a $3mm punter!!!?!? Draft that kid punter AJ Cole III from the East/West Shrine game that was banging it and hanging it, like in the 6th round.

    Cut DJax, Curry, Gholston, GMC, Unrein, Evan Smith, Anger. Net cap gain approx. $45 million!! And restructure LVD.

    If Licht wants to bring back Brate at a much reduced rate after testing the market, fine.

    AND…just to make @Ndog happy….I’ll deliberately NOT jump over to Rotoworld’s Free Agency Tracker, to fill in the FA holes other than draft pickups, so that noisy hack can rant!

    Go Bucs!

  25. firethecannons Says:

    Hold the nose and sign the contract or franchise him and get another tackle in this year’s draft and next years draft too as replacing Dotson is paramount

  26. SOEbuc Says:

    Robert

    “dude can play, not elite, but c+/b-”

    LT is the most important oline position in a passing league and oline should be our #1 priority. We need a B+/A-/A+ and not give him B+/A money which he thinks he deserves.

  27. Bucnjim Says:

    this organization has wasted so much money on below average players it should be a crime. Meanwhile they’re trying to sell us on the fact that these same players are superstars. Faces posted on the side of the stadium only to be ghosts the following year. Again we have to listen to the word potential over and over with the exact same results.

  28. 813bucboi Says:

    hodad

    i agree….

    trenton brown is a franchise LT….if the PATS dump him, we should sign him, franchise d.smith, kick him inside and move marpet back to RG….draft a G along with a slew of defensive players….

    cut djax, urein, gholston,e.smith, d.bond

    restructure GMC & brate…if not cut’em….

    #REALISTKNOWSNOTHING!!!!…GO BUCS!!!!!

  29. Bucs Fan #7423 Says:

    Donavan Smith is fat and lazy just like Gerald McCoy

  30. Bucs Fan #7423 Says:

    A purge of fat and lazy players would be nice for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  31. Jonzey Says:

    Resign him please

  32. AlteredEgo Says:

    If you read between the lines in the article…Jameis holds on to the ball too long…and D Smith would be All Pro with a QB like Brady….lots of truth in that observation

  33. tnew Says:

    No reason why he can’t be franchise tagged and fit under the cap. There are tons of options to renegotiate or outright release to reduce cap space and not just the big names. While many love to trash Licht, one thing he does do is keep dead money to a minimum. The only dead money out there that I’m truly concerned with the RoJo, at 3.2mil dead money if cut.

    I would be leery to let him walk without a new O line coach and I would be equally leery to pay him a top tier multi year deal. The franchise tag as it sits now is to the benefit of the teams not the players. Because of the collective bargaining, he’s not being paid like a left tackle. He’s getting grouped into the entire O-line pool.

  34. SOEbuc Says:

    No problem trading back within the top 10 which is likely the farthest back we could go. Nothing but what looks like could be elite players at positions we need. Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen, Jonah Williams, Ed Oliver, Devin White, Greedy Williams. 6 out of 10 right there and all these other teams likely to trade up for QBs.

  35. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Can we not wiat to see what the new coaches think. I am sure they have already evaluated him and have their plan in place to either resign him or let him walk da plank!

  36. Dewey Selmon Says:

    We have to coach the Warhop out of him to see if he is our long term solution. Franchise him this year.

  37. Tony LA Says:

    D. Smith at RT = really good
    D. Smith at G = possibly great

    D. Smith as a top ten paid LT = big time regret

    It is what it is. But that’s what it IS.

  38. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The Transition Tag may work better than the Franchise Tag…..it would essentially be the average of the top 10 LTs….
    The Franchise tag would be the average of the top 5 so it would be more expensive.
    We do get to match a higher offer if necessary.

    Going with draft picks is very risky but an option. Do we really want a rookie LT?

    It would certainly help if D Smith could play somewhere else…..we could tag him and still draft a couple of Tackles.

    I like trading down if we can and picking up an extra pick….we could draft 3 linemen in the first two rounds.

  39. Destinjohnny Says:

    Kason and is marginal situations
    Tag him and then draft his replacement

  40. Kobe Faker Says:

    “THAT IS THE HUGE PROBLEM AND PREDICAMENT WE ARE IN FOR 2019….

    Does BA and Bowles release Gumps busts strictly from tape?

    How can the coaches move on without seeing gumps misfits at least in camp in live situations?

    But that would mean it would be too late for better FA signings

    Do you coach alittle better or move on from lack of talent or 2018 production?

    IF we hold on to them and find out they are truely pathetic by game 4, our season is shot

    Kobe believes because of salary cap hell Gump has us under…

    We will see the same majority of our 2018 roster with a few changes

    2019 will be called “THE LAME BUC” season”

    Kobe Faker

  41. Bucs Guy Says:

    Stay away from head case Oliver in the draft. Let him be someone else’s problem.

  42. [email protected] Says:

    Sign Bell draft oline 2nd round the rest of the draft defense let mccoy and jackson walk trade them for bell…

  43. BucEmUp 7 Says:

    You have to resign smith. Ive been saying for years you can only fully evaluate players under.good coaching. Smith needs to stay no way you let him walk. It would be a huge setback. Let Arians coach these guys up!

  44. Stanglassman Says:

    Alterego-He was talking about Koetter’s 7 step drop system not indecisiveness of the Qb. I know you love any opertunity to rag Jameis back don’t manipulate the mans works to serve your purpose.

    “ I always look at the system and what they are doing and what kind of offense they are running and what is the quarterback doing. If you have a guy back there holding onto the ball, he’s going to make Tony Boselli look bad.”

  45. AlteredEgo Says:

    See …all day and you boys have not sorted it out… LOL

  46. JimmyJack Says:

    Right now we got half a line. Smith Marpet & Jensen.

    They need to figure out how to scout some pro talent for that line

    Bruce will defientaly do a better job developing rookie offenive lineman. Our last coach developed ZERO lineman in his 3 seasons.

  47. AlteredEgo Says:

    Stanglassman Says:
    February 1st, 2019 at 4:02 pm
    Alterego-He was talking about Koetter’s 7 step drop system not indecisiveness of the Qb. I know you love any opertunity to rag Jameis back don’t manipulate the mans works to serve your purpose.

    “ I always look at the system and what they are doing and what kind of offense they are running and what is the quarterback doing. If you have a guy back there holding onto the ball, he’s going to make Tony Boselli look bad.”
    .
    .
    .
    .
    stang….he didn’t even get to inaccuracy after finally making up his mind…

  48. Dom / Licht ? Says:

    We have an over paid center and LG why not over pay average LT it is the Licht way…. at least he can brag about another of his draft picks “earning “ a 2nd contract.

  49. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Donovan’s pass blocking is decent, it’s his run blocking that is atrocious.

  50. Defense Rules Says:

    As Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel … “Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into”. Pickgrin nailed it. Thank you Jason Licht; our roster & salary CAP situation are so screwed up it’ll take a true wizard to untangle it. Sure hoping that BA is up to the task.

    Tony LA summarized what Donovan’s potential is nicely. I prefer that he NOT be our LT long term, but for 2019 we’ve got too many other fish to fry to worry about LT. Franchise tag him, even if it costs us $15 mil, & let this new coaching staff see what he’s got. I’d personally try him at RT & Guard as well as LT. But I’d ALSO draft a LT this year in either the 1st or 2nd round, then let them fight it out in preseason to see who starts at LT & who gets shifted to RT.

  51. donuts Says:

    There are 11 yes 11 UFA LT this year. Why panic? I think the whole Smith having leverage thing is a complete joke or someone missed the tape of his 2018 starts. He is average at best and horrible at times. Zero Pro Bowls…and we want to place the f-tag on him? If they do that, Licht will be fired at the end of 2019 when he over pays for another barely average player.

    This move will be a tell though IMHO. If they move on from Smith, the Bucs are really looking to change the culture and the team dynamics. If they cling onto average players like Smith…same old Bucs.

  52. AlteredEgo Says:

    Defense Rules Says:
    February 1st, 2019 at 4:54 pm
    As Oliver Hardy used to say to Stan Laurel … “Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into”. Pickgrin nailed it. Thank you Jason Licht; our roster & salary CAP situation are so screwed up it’ll take a true wizard to untangle it. Sure hoping that BA is up to the task.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Not to mention Jameis in the waiting room next year $$$$$$$$$$

  53. D1 Says:

    Stan,

    There’s zero mention of Dirks 7 step drop backs. Holding the ball too long is decision making
    or lack of it in a timely fashion.

    Besides, why refer to something that only exists in fans warped minds. Meaning, the Bucs didn’t have 7 step drops . It didn’t exist so it appears that you made up something to defend winston and or disparage koetter.

    Alteredego is the winner by reading comprehesion…

  54. JJV Says:

    Like I said before, they should draft strictly OL/DL the entire draft. Address the other needs in free agency or trades if needed. Fixing the trenches will go a long way in making all the other positions on the team much better.

  55. JimmyJack Says:

    Defense Rules…..What do you mean our salary cap is screwed?

    The last time I looked we don’t owe nobody nothing. We can do what ever we want with our salary cap. We can literally move on from 90% of our roster and buy a brand new team if we want to.

    Our salary cap is just fine. You can buy any player you want with our cap. Very very easily.

  56. Mort Says:

    You have to re-sign him. Do you have anyone better to replace him with? Nope. Brown from the Pats isn’t hitting the market. Sorry dreamers. It’s Smith, or you have to waste a draft pick on one in a year where that’s not a highly thought of position – even the dude from Alabama.

  57. Defense Rules Says:

    @JimmyJack … “Our salary cap is just fine. You can buy any player you want with our cap. Very very easily.”

    And what was the last expansion team you saw that made the playoffs in Year 1 JimmyJack? Because with massive turnover that’s exactly what you’d find yourself being … an expansion team. Go back & take another look at what we’re REALLY locked into. Granted that dead $$$ is relatively low; but our commitment to our top players is extremely high. And what that’s gotten us is two 5-11 seasons in a row.

    So ya, if you want to free up say $100 mil you can do it with very little dead $$$ involved: cut Jameis ($20.9 mil saved); cut JPP ($14.9 mil); cut GMC ($13.0 mil); cut DJax ($10.0 mil); cut LVD ($9.75 mil); cut Curry ($8.0 mil); cut Brate ($7.0 mil). Cutting just those 7 players could free up $83.55 mil and bring our total CAP space available to almost $100 mil.

    Oh and BTW, didn’t include ME13 ($20.0 mil), Marpet ($11.2 mil) or Jensen ($10.0 mil) because of the massive dead money hits involved. But just for info, if you added their salaries to the $83.5 eaten up by the other 7 I mentioned, that’d be $124.5 mil for JUST those 10 players in 2019. If the 2019 salary CAP is $191 mil (highest projected that I’ve seen), that’d be 65% of the salary CAP devoted to just 10 of the 54 players (plus PS) that we NEED to pay.

    Still sure Bucs can “buy any player you want with our cap … Very very easily”?

  58. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Donovan Smith reminds me somewhat of Roman Oben. Not great, but held down the left tackle position well enough. We had a running game back in the days of Oben, which we haven’t had in a while, obviously. A running game and play action pass will make D Smith a lot more effective.

  59. SOEbuc Says:

    Tag him and let him play OG this year and see what happens.He has the body and strength to possibly be a great OG. He can handle guys going straight up but doesn’t have the hands or speed when guys can get around him. Put him at LG and put Ali back at RG which has always been the best position he’s played.

  60. Owlykat Says:

    BA doesn’t want slackers and that is exactly what D. Smith is and if he leaves him playing LT he will still let speed rushers go right around him or he will grab them and stop drives with 15 yard penalties, which means we will not make it to the playoffs. Much better to let the stupid teams who want Turnstyle Smith to pay for him in giving us a good draft pick for him. Then draft a top LT after moving down a few spots. Now if the new LT after expert development by our new OL Coach isn’t better than Smith, then if BA will also look at the two Preseason Games where Liedtke in his first try at playing LT played brilliantly and didn’t yield a single sack. So that should ease any worries BA should have with a top LT from the draft. He will be able to put in Liedtke while continuing to develop the high LT pick til he can take over. Now as to you all who want to cut E. Smith, who is a decent backup Guard, and a veteran backup Center who we have to keep, cutting him would be foolish. Now when D. Smith was being whipped often by speed rushers they were racing around him in less than three seconds and instantly pressuring Jameis. Take a stopwatch and time it yourself from 2018 film. You will see it had zero to do with Jameis holding the ball too long. What you also will see is that Jameis would have been sacked a lot more times but for his outstanding quick reflexes to avoid sacks. His ability to keep plays alive while under pressure is an amazing talent he has that has probably cut in half the number of sacks allowed by D. Smith otherwise. Also, BA also likes to go for the long ball too, which is why he wanted to keep Jackson, so he would be a big mistake if he tries to keep D. Smith!