Developing A Left Tackle

February 7th, 2023

Assistant coach Joe Gilbert is in charge of offensive tackles.

With 131 games in a Bucs uniform and a fat contract coming off a challenging season, left tackle Donovan Smith has worn out his welcome with a lot of Tampa Bay fans.

They’d rather not pay Smith $15 million-plus next season in the final year of his now-unguaranteed contract. That’s understandable with the Bucs already over the 2023 salary cap.

Joe also knows a lot of Bucs fans are fearful of developing a left tackle. Joe isn’t in that camp.

Look at the NFC representatives in the Super Bowl; the Eagles have their 2018 seventh-round pick at left tackle. He’s a three-year starter with a fat contract, Jordan Mailata.

Yes, Joe realizes Mailata is a freakish athlete at 6-8 and roughly 360 pounds, but he also was new to football after playing rugby in Australia. He’s a great example of good coaching and a keen scouting eye.

Joe believes the Bucs have good offensive-line coaching, where Joe Gilbert is in charge of the tackles. Gilbert made changes to Smith’s setup and he improved under Gilbert’s watch to near Pro Bowl level last season. Smith took a step back this year, but perhaps that was due to multiple injuries, high-mileage and age tackling him from behind?

Gilbert had Smith’s backup, undrafted Brandon Walton, ready to play. Josh Wells also has shown well as a backup when he’s not facing Hall of Famers, and Luke Goedeke looked solid in his right tackle debut. Joe even thinks Gilbert got a ton out of Demar Dotson in 2019.

And certainly, Gilbert has done a stellar job with Tristan Wirfs.

Joe’s not going to cry if the Bucs decide to develop a left tackle and dump Smith.

35 Responses to “Developing A Left Tackle”

  1. Rob Hamada Says:

    Move Goedeke to RG to compete with Mason. He can be the backup RT as well. If Smith wants to stay with the Bucs, he needs to be offered a pay cut and move inside to LG for a year or two. We need to draft one or two of the following LT candidates. Jaelyn Duncan, Darnell Wright, and Matthew Bergeron to develop at LT and LG. Hainsey can be the backup LG/C.

  2. LOL Says:

    I would definitely shed a tear if the Bucs were to let go of Smith….

    A tear of happiness that is. LOL

  3. Marine Buc Says:

    We can all agree that D. Smith was bad last season.

    Cutting him will save @ $10M of cap. But who will replace him?

    Move Wirfs over? OK – but who replaces Wirfs?

    Goedeke to RT? Maybe but will he be any better at RT than he was at LG?

    Find a cheap but solid free agent? Easier said than done.

    Draft an RT? I really want to spend most of the draft on much needed defensive players – OLB/CB/ILB/DT/DE/S…

    No easy answers but one thing is for sure – D. Smith probably shouldn’t be an NFL starting tackle for any team including the Bucs.

  4. sasquatch Says:

    Hard to imagine making significant progress on the cap deficit without unloading Donovan Smith.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Pick your poison…..we have to draft a replacement for LVD & Dean (TBBF doesn’t expect either to be signed)
    We also need a stout TE.
    I would go with Wirfs at LT & Goedeke at RT and cut Smith.

    Smith should be offered a restructured deal that is team friendly to stay….if not….adios.

  6. Aleyz2020 Says:

    He’s not the man he used to be without Marpet and Cappa ther to cover for him. Time to move on from his frequent and crucial penalties.

  7. ClwJB Says:

    Put him on the restructure list with Lenny and Gage

    Take a cut or get cut


    Get rid of lazy ass Smith once and for all.

  9. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I don’t want DS at all on this team………every year we are always complaining about his play…..then all of a sudden he plays well for a few games and then it goes back to the same ol same ol penalty driven conversations.

    Have we not learn our lessons from Kenyatta Walker?????? That dude was truly horrific, but yet the Bucs kept him around too long cause of his high draft status.

    It’s time to cut bait with DS and move on.

  10. Pryda sec 147 Says:

    A tear of happiness lmao me 2 walk the plank Smith ! !! 🥊🏴‍☠️
    We need a Mobil QB under center. Wirfs & Jensen 🤩 Mason decent , Goedeke needs to get stronger in offseason and smarter could be a beast. Shoot at 19 we can def grab a OL develop them. Let’s get another Wirfs type 🤩🤩

  11. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Pryda sec 147

    Wirfs is truly a dime a dozen….they don’t have many O-Lineman like him…..he’s a very special player…..the Bucs got lucky.

  12. Davenport Says:

    This shouldnt even be a question — he needs to go

  13. sasquatch Says:

    TheBucsAnthem Says:
    February 7th, 2023 at 11:25 am

    Wirfs is truly a dime a dozen…

    That phrase means the opposite of what you think it does.

    A dime a dozen = cheap, meaning easy to acquire.

  14. Bucs56 Says:

    Smith was damaged all year. I have no problem developing a tackle from the swing position but you can’t cut Smith and draft a rookie to start. First it forces you to use pick 19 on a tackle and the draft may not fall that way.
    Extend Smith and spread the money out. Take a development tackle on 2nd day of draft and maybe you can trade Smith once you have a viable replacement. Average to good tackles have value for trading.

  15. Dooley Says:

    We need a swing tackle out of the draft as it makes no sense to lose Donovan Smith AND Josh Wells in one offseason while we’re strapped for resources in terms of acquiring talent. Also, “we” didn’t complain much in 2021 when Smith was one of the better LTs in all of football, guys wait for a player to have a down year to start talking as if the player has always been terrible, it’s really short sighted.

  16. Bobby M. Says:

    Smith gets traded or cut….he’s a liability on nearly every play. I really think the refs were letting him hold on every play but would only call it if a first down or TD was the result….those are key plays that impact the game. There’s simply no way someone could get caught that much every single game in key moments….unless that’s all they do. Move Wirfs over, draft a couple linemen and we’ll be fine. Licht is pretty consistent in scouting linemen.

  17. jerseybuc Says:

    I always thought Smith was better suited to RT or even guard but LT is where the money is and he wanted nothing to do with moving. Hard to see him adapting to a new spot now, he may want to shop around and LT is a premium so someone will pay him. But we cannot pay this guy top dollar after last year. One of my pet peeves with Smith is he sometimes seems to give up a play once he is beaten. Watch the Eagle linemen play to the whistle Sunday, they are beasts. Jason has his work cut out for him this offseason, nowhere more important than how we handle the LT spot.

  18. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    DB coach and OL coach are the worst of the bucs coaches and that is where the bucs need help; not sure why gilbert still around, the OL in that steelers game was so pathetic, and then the run game was worst in NFL history. Now its time to draft DB or OL, if wirfs can move over then do it, and get someone on the right side. I think the OL will improve if you have someone like Baker Mayfield back there who can at least has a little bit of a threat to scramble for a first down

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    You know…cutting Smith will cause huge problems, as the LT protects the blindside of the QB.

    Now, if the Bucs find a suitable replacement first, that’s fine. Free up the money…but if they draft someone outside of first round, then they need to keep Smith at least one more year.

  20. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Smith is not an asset , but he is a liability.

  21. HC Grover Says:

    Our problem is ‘good coaching’

  22. Yucs2Bucs Says:

    It’s time for the Glazers to show some LOVE and bring Jordan to Tampa

  23. Dapostman Says:

    Trust me if Marcus Allen can play FB in front of Bo Jackson and thrive then Wirf’s can move to LT.

  24. Miller5252 Says:

    This is why you have coaches. They should be able to say if Donnie is on that fast decline and will continue to get worse or he’s still a good tackle and personal issues and injuries caused a bad year. The GM who is supposedly a guru on O lineman should have known before the season was over.

  25. Redeemer Says:

    Let’s get real. DS was never a top 15 LT. Holding machine as a rookie and atrocious this season. Sloppy footwork, lazy at times. I’m in the camp of drafting high at LT. Then you’re good for 10+ years. Take the development right out the equation.

  26. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    @ Redeemer

    Well you are assuming this Tackle is as durable as many of the Elite Tackles????

    It’s pretty hard to stay healthy in the NFL for 10 seasons, especially at such a physical position.

    Is it possible to get lucky and strike gold again like they did with Wirfs????…….highly unlikely.

  27. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Say goodbye to the Eraser, the man who erases points from the scoreboard. If we scout well, and draft well, then we should be fine. We will hardly be a SB contended in 23 so let’s be ready to go in 24 with a good second year LT.

  28. Destinjohnny Says:

    All un Jason licht lovers about to be singing then blues baby

  29. Zippy Foonman Says:

    So many variables here. That’s also got to be a warning sign for potential offensive coordinators. Don’t know who the quarterback will be. Don’t have a clear idea on what the OL will be (specifically on the left side.)

  30. Redeemer Says:

    TBA, fair point. Let’s not call horses ponies though. Just draft the position high and with some degree of certainty. I’m no scout, but I knows a LT when. I see one. Id venture a guess that the higher the draft slot, the better the player at that position.

  31. Buc king Says:

    His issue and will always be his issue is footwork he can’t handle fast linebackers…
    Of he was smart he move to interior oline to longate his career and chase some probowls.

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    Yes D Smith was a liability this past season, but there might have been some extenuating circumstances? Played almost all the year with a bum elbow, and I would think that would’ve impacted his leverage (and his attempts to compensate?). Also had another injury & was supposedly dealing with some unknown ‘personal matter’?

    Gut feel is that he also really missed having Marpet at his side. The 2 of them had essentially grown up together in the NFL, and I’m guessing had a pretty good feel how to support each other in the trenches. Having Luke next to him instead of Ali for half a season probably changed that quite a bit.

    Not saying Donnie’s a Pro Bowl LT by any means, but we did quite well with him there in 2019, 2020 & 2021. And up until this past year he’s been a true Ironman in comparison to most LTs. He’s due to make $19.7 mil this season, but carries a dead CAP of $8.0 mil. He’s a FA next year, but carries a Voided Contract value of $5.3 mil in 2024 & $2.7 mil in 2025.

    I like what Joe wrote about Joe Gilbert, and can’t help but feel that Gilbert undoubtedly knows each OLineman better than any of us and that he’s probably the best one on this staff to determine how to fix this OLine. Not just whether to replace D Smith now, but also whether or not to move Wirfs to LT. I really don’t like the idea of using our #19 pick on a LT. No problem with using it on a DE/OLB or DT (to replace Hicks) or even ILB (to replace LVD) or a CB (to replace Dean if he can’t be re-signed).

  33. unbelievable Says:

    They gotta see if Goedke can play tackle… just not sure how you do that without leaving yourself open to a massive hole if he sucks there as well…

  34. Ben Harvey Says:

    Time to walk the plank Smith!!!

  35. Capt.Tim Says:

    I bet Smith’s marching orders were” do NOT let Brady take a bad hit.if in doubt, grab the guy.”
    That would make alot of sense, although it wouldnt occur to most couch coaches.
    That Said, Smith had a down year. He is still a starting Left Tackle in the NFL, but too expensive for the Bucs.
    Drafting a young LT is a mandatory this year. Wells can cover until the Rookie is ready.
    We are going to lose alot of good players this year. I think Smith will be one.

    Tampa fans talking trash about Left Tackles is hilarious. Absolutely clueless.
    I just hope Smith doest sign with an NFC south team. He is still a capable LT