Key decisions are being made this week for potential unrestricted free agency in the NFL. And apparently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made an important decision involving left tackle Donovan Smith.
Tampa Bay Times Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud reported Monday morning that the Bucs will not allow Smith to test free agency and will instead ensure that he remains in Tampa Bay with a “Franchise Tag” designation:
#Bucs will place the franchise tag on LT Donovan Smith by the March 5 deadline but talks are going well on an extension and they could still do a deal at a later date.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 4, 2019
The left tackle spot is vital especially in pass-blocking The Blind Side for quarterback Jameis Winston.
This designation means that Smith must be paid the average of the top players at his position in the 2019 season. That number is reportedly $14 million. The Bucs could have also put a “Transitional Tag” on Smith, which means they would be entitled to draft pick compensation, if another team signed him to an offer and Tampa Bay chose not to match it.
The biggest debate of the situation is: has Smith lived up to getting a massive contract from Tampa Bay or anyone else?
While Smith has been an “iron man” of sorts and hasn’t missed an NFL game in his four years, there are questions about his play.
And, that point has been very clear over the course of last season. As Tampa Bay shuffled Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston in and out of the lineup, Smith continued to struggle consistently with pass blocking.
So much so, that when a Tampa Bay fan, who has regularly been breaking down game tape and putting video criticism on Twitter for the past few years, begin to criticize Smith, he chose to respond through social media.
As Stroud tweeted, the Buccaneers will be working towards a long-term deal that probably has a large signing bonus. That deal will also have with future years of large guaranteed money and all of this can lower Smith’s cap number for 2019.
Tampa Bay has already committed to Smith’s 2015 fellow second round pick draft mate, Ali Marpet. Marpet, has shown versatility in his four years, including playing right guard his first two years center in year three and then, left guard next to Smith last year. The Bucs gave him a lucrative contract extension with a hefty raise in the middle of last season.
It’s also well known that Smith and Marpet are good friends off the field, and also have hosted radio and TV shows together the last two seasons in Tampa Bay.
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