It looked likely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have to franchise LT Donovan Smith to keep him for 2019, but GM Jason Licht pulled a rabbit out of his hat, signing the offensive lineman to a 3-year deal.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports it’s for $41.25 million with $27 million fully guaranteed.
Buccaneers are giving OT Donvovan Smith a 3-year, $41.25 millon deal, including $27 million fully guaranteed at signing, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2019
Saving the franchise tag could allow the Bucs to use it on another player, such as LB Kwon Alexander and also allows the Bucs to avoid overpaying for Smith. The Franchise tag for left tackles could have been as much as $15 million, while Smith’s contract will average around $13.75.
Smith becomes the third Bucs offensive lineman to earn over $10 million. “Donovan has been a valuable player and a model of durability since we drafted him four years ago,” said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht through the Bucs’ official press release. “We always aim to develop our players and reward them for their productivity and reliability, so keeping Donovan as a Buccaneer was a major priority for us this offseason. Donovan’s presence ensures continuity at one of our most crucial positions on the offensive line and I know our coaching staff is eager to begin working with him.”
Tampa Bay really had no choice but to retain Smith. Options in Free Agency and the draft would have been a downgrade and new Head Coach Bruce Arians is in a “win-now” mode.