Could Jason Licht Use Taylor Lewan As Leverage Against Donovan Smith

February 13th, 2023

Bucs GM Jason Licht.

Welcome to speculation season!

Now that the Super Bowl is over, to help deal with the depression of no football until the XFL/USFL seasons kick off to help, it is speculation season.

The combine begins two weeks from tomorrow (before you try to correct Joe, he’s not referring to the TV show on NFL Network — Joe doesn’t give a sh!t about that). The free agency dinner bell rings a month from Wednesday.

Who will get cut? Who will get signed? Who will get drafted? What general manager is talking to what player agents? What players are working out for what teams?

Speculation season begins this morning in earnest.

Now with the Bucs firmly planted in salary cap hell thanks partly to Tom Brady’s retirement and the subsequent financial implications, Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith is centered as a focal point for many fans.

(Sadly, some folks have been aiming for Smith from the day he was drafted in 2015. Why? Joe isn’t sure but Joe strongly suspects it has something to do with the PFF tribe. The stat geeks have consistently hated on Smith before he was even drafted.)

Smith, who will be 30 this summer, is likely coming off his worst season as far as health. He got hurt in the season opener and Joe doesn’t believe he was healthy all year. It clearly affected his play. Smith missed five starts, the most of his ironman career.

Smith is due to make some $15 million this season, per For a team in salary cap hell, that’s a bunch. It is also Smith’s final year of his contract.

Could Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht be inclined to use Taylor Lewan as leverage to get Smith to take a paycut?

Lewan, the Pro Bowl left tackle for the Titans (Joe still doesn’t understand why it’s not kosher to use the first syllable of “Titans” the way people use “Bucs” for Buccaneers or “Jags” for Jaguars.) said last week he expects to be released soon by Tennessee.

Like Smith, Lewan will enter the final year of his contract in 2023. And like Smith, Lewan is due to pocket some $15 million.

Could Licht tell Smith’s agent(s) that if he doesn’t take a paycut, Licht could sign Lewan at a cheaper price?

Lewan is two years older than Smith. He was a rock of stability for the Titans until he turned 28. Injuries then started to riddle his stability.

In the past four seasons, Lewan has missed 34 starts. Joe has no idea of his current health status but it’s fair to say Lewan has become the Julio Jones of left tackles.

Still, business is business and it’s not outrageous to think the Bucs couldn’t use the threat of signing Lewan (if he is released) as leverage to get Smith to do a more team-friendly deal.

The Bucs are in salary cap hell. They need to make every nickel count. And in Joe’s eyes, Smith’s injury-plagued 2022, his age and his contract status are a concern.

40 Responses to “Could Jason Licht Use Taylor Lewan As Leverage Against Donovan Smith”

  1. Evo Says:

    Don’t we have enough of other teams injured players on our roster already? The bucs make that move. And think this guy’s going to play a full season. It let’s me know they aren’t serious about winning. You can’t bet on players with previous injury history. How’d it work for us this year? And last?

  2. Brandon Jeff Says:

    I think Joe was saying use the threat of Taylor Lewan as a bargaining chip to negotiate a salary reduction, not to actually sign him.

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Good photo of Jason Licht; especially like the dark glasses. Behind them I’ve got a feeling JL’s eyes are very red right about now, trying to figure out how the he11 to get out of the salary CAP mess that he created.

    Tom Brady’s salary, aka ‘the gift that keeps on giving’, is a HUGE part of that, even though Tom just called it quits. For those who tout that he gave us a hometown discount & worked ‘on the cheap’, think again. According to Spotrac, Brady made $97,795,588 in his 3 years as a Buc, an average of $32.6 mil annually. So much for working on the cheap.

    Problem now is how that impacted our salary CAP, and that’s got to do with the CAP Hits we took year-by-year. Again according to Spotrac, here’s how it worked out:

    o 2020: 25.0 mil CAP Hit
    o 2021: 10.5 mil
    o 2022: 11.9 mil
    o 2023: 35.1 mil
    o 2024: 10.8 mil
    o 2025: 10.8 mil
    o 2026: 2.8 mil

    Yes, that totals to $106.9 mil spread out over 7 years (for what started out as $97.8 mil in base salaries, signing bonuses, roster bonuses & yes, ‘Miscellaneous’). Turns out there’s a little column in there labeled ‘Restructuring Bonuses’ also. Wow, whodathunkit?

  4. dmatt Says:

    Based on DSmith performance this past year I say let’s sever ties with this bust. He’s always been a liability that cost us to lose games. I’m 2019 he was garbage as he often got beat that led to Winston being sacked. He did the same the next year to Tom until his job was threatened by BA. DSmith is a wussy. Cam Jordan has made a mockery of him. He doesn’t deserve the big salary. We have got to get creative with moving players around. I’d say Wirtz at LT, Hainsey at RT, (position he played in college) Jensen center, Nick LeverettLG n SMason RG. We can do fine without DSmith, let that soft, lazy, dud walk.

  5. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Wirfs is moving to LT and will be great there.

  6. Allbuccedup Says:

    Licht barking up the wrong tree again Lewan will probably retire.

  7. TDTB Says:

    D. Smith is too expensive to cut. Move him to left guard, with Wirfs at left tackle. Sign/draft/trade for best right tackle they can at a cheap price.

  8. HC Grover Says:

    He too old and too expensive for a rebuild. The Buc Clunker is worn out and ready for the scrapyard. Call the wrecker.

  9. Beej Says:

    I believe the specific kind of hell we’re in precludes signing a free agent starting tackle. As many have said, cut DS, (I don’t believe the cap hit is too damaging) move Wirfs, either Goedeke or Brandon Walton at RT

  10. Wild Bill Says:

    Sheese! I put this post in the category of desperation for news content. Who really cares? Guys get old and slow. It’s a harsh system but the Bucs are top heavy with older players past their prime. Too many aging vets with nagging injuries.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We don’t need to be getting older….even with a D Smith replacement……that holds no future at all….

  12. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Oh sure, ask Durable Donnie’s lazy azz to take a pay cut…… that’ll work out great. He already plays unmotivated. How is less money gonna help that?

    For the record Joe, I gave DD the chance to prove himself in the first few years…. guess what?
    He sucked.

    Just cut him and move on.

  13. Beej Says:

    Read that cutting DS saves $9,950,000 in cap hit. Restructure Brady so he retires after June 1 saves another $10 mil. Brate, Fournette and Succop represent another $9 mil. I’d hate to see us get rid of Gage tho

  14. Since76 Says:

    Move Wirfs to left. Trade smith draft right tackle and a guard. Line fixed. And younger.

  15. BucsfanFred Says:

    D Smith is used up
    Gage?? IDK.

  16. BucsfanFred Says:

    We’d have a hard time trading DSmith. Nobody wants to pay that walking penalty machine 15 mil.

  17. SKBucsFan Says:

    How about drafting an LT in the first round? Maybe someone will give us a 4th round pick for Smith.

  18. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ Defense Rules

    2023-26 years automatically void ($35.1M dead cap)

    2023 – $10,776,000
    2024 – $10,776,000
    2025 – $10,776,000
    2025 – $2,776,000

    Total: $35,104,000 <—That’s all folks

  19. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    2026 – $2,776,000

  20. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    What does anyone think we can get for smith with a trade? If we e could get a 4th I’d trade him. I also think we’ve got to let Shaq go.

    As for Brady putting us in salary cap hell, he still played for us very cheap compared to his value. 2 MVP type seasons- I’m super thankful for those 3 seasons.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    LUVMYBUCS … ‘Total: $35,104,000 <—That’s all folks'.

    Apologize, but not sure what you're trying to tell me. If you go to Spotrac Salary CAP for 2022, select Bucs (#31 on the list), then click on Tom Brady, it shows how much his CAP Hit will be year by year.

    They list it as $35,104,000 in 2023, then $10,776,000 in 2024, then $10,776,000 in 2025, then $2,776,000 in 2026. That's what those numbers are based on.

  22. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Donovan Smith (30) Options

    Donovan Smith: Trade or Pre 6/1
    Dead Cap: $7,950,000
    Cap Saved: $9,950,000<—

    Trade or Cut Post 6/1
    Dead Cap: $2,650,000
    Cap Saved: $15,250,000<—

    Cap Saved: $11,268,000<—

    (s) IF he’s traded

    Trent Williams trade – In 2020, the Washington Football Team traded left tackle Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick and a 2021 third-round draft pick.

    Duane Brown trade – In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks traded left tackle Duane Brown to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2018 third-round draft pick and a 2019 second-round draft pick.

    Ryan Clady trade – In 2016, the Denver Broncos traded left tackle Ryan Clady and a 2016 seventh-round draft pick to the New York Jets in exchange for a 2016 fifth-round draft pick.

    Eugene Monroe trade – In 2014, the Baltimore Ravens traded Eugene Monroe to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick and a 2015 fifth-round draft pick.

  23. Browsing from DC Says:

    DR….. $32.9 mil/yr for Brady is still less than 10 other qbs including Goff, Carr, Wilson, Murray, Mahomes, Rodgers, Stafford, etc..

    So for 3 years, taking the Bucs to the playoffs in all 3, 2 division wins and a SB win, yeah, I’d say we got a bargain.

    The cap hit this year sucks but it wouldn’t surprise me to see TB12 agree to a mitigating deal even though he has every right not to.

  24. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ Defense Rules

    Scroll Down to Contract Notes:
    * 2022 Roster Bonus: $13.88M (fully guaranteed, treated as signing bonus)
    * No-tag clause for 2023
    * 2023-26 years automatically void ($35.1M dead cap)

    Meaning the Bucs will get hit with a $35.104 million cap charge from Brady’s dummy contract years voiding in 2023.

  25. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I suspect Smith is toast, but I don’t hate him like some people here. He’s actually been healthy for us most of his time here, and he is a good LT when his duties are not divided by making up for bad LG players.

  26. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    This is the time of year that I really like your posts!

  27. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    voiding 2023-2026

  28. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ Buccaneer Bonzai

    Appreciate you man

  29. Cobraboy Says:


    Get younger.

    Use 2023 for youngster experience.

    And fire Bowles.

  30. Larrd Says:

    Smith figures to play better. He has been an iron man until now. Probably the third best OT in franchise history. Give him an extension at less money, maybe? And move him to right tackle, where he should have always been, probably.

    I am not so sure Barrett or Jensen are going to return to their former selves. Hainsey was fine. Shoyinka and Devin White would be a very athletic pair of edge rushers. I would try to get out of both those contracts, unfair as it may seem.

  31. Larrd Says:

    Cut deep, go with Trask and a bunch of rookies and sell the farm to sign Toney away from the chiefs and Daron Payne. Draft Bijan.

  32. geno711 Says:

    For all those saying that you have to spend money to replace Donovan Smith, I have never been a hater of him.

    But based upon his production last season and his contract this season, he is easily the most likely and important cut for the Bucs this season.

    Now maybe the Bucs know something about injuries last year that led to such a down season but I give 4 to 1 odds that he is either cut or takes a low renegotiated salary.

  33. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    I love the speculations as well as the down-to-earth discussions about our Bucs. That is why I hang around here.

    I don’t know for certain but I think geno711 concisely stated the situation regarding Donovan Smith.

  34. Rand Says:

    Why even bother. We can put any capable LT in there for less money and get the same exact results Smith has been giving us for way too much money.

  35. Rand Says:

    Just to make it clear, I don’t hate Smith but he’s never been a good run blocker, pass blocker yes, run blocker heck no. He seems to shy away from physical contact which maybe is why he’s being called ironman for his ability to be available. We need run blockers to succeed in the run game. We missed Ali Marpet this season because he was the mauler on the left side which made up for Smith’s crap play.

  36. Larrd Says:

    Toney isn’t a FA. My bad!

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    Geno711 … The situation that Donovan Smith finds himself in right now with the Bucs reminds me of the situation that Donald Penn found himself in back in 2013 when he was our LT. Donald was pretty much an ironman for us for 7 years at LT (played every game, starting all but 4 his rookie year), but always seemed to report to camp overweight. Folks kept getting onto him about that.

  38. Defense Rules Says:

    Penn played 6 more seasons before injuries finally caught up with him it appears. And yet Penn gave us 7 good years, and the Raiders another 4 good years, plus started all 16 games for Washington. That’s 12 good years out of 13. Donovan currently has 8 years under his belt. Maybe the Bucs shouldn’t be so quick to write him off & absorb the $8 mil CAP hit that’ll result? Yes we MIGHT be able to move Wirfs over to LT, but then we’d have to replace him (which would cost $$$). AND … Wirfs is a FA after this year, although we can execute his 5th year option for $18 mil (more than Smith is making). Retaining Wirfs (in 2024 or 2025) is gonna cost us an arm & a leg I’ll bet.

  39. garro Says:

    Wow Joes I think you put in some overtime on that “speculation”
    Nonsense would be a better word in my opinion!

  40. SB~LV Says:

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