It’s beginning to look like defensive end Jacquies Smith will indeed be a part of the Buccaneers again in 2017. Or perhaps we should say that it’s looking like Smith will be a part of the Bucs at least through the spring and early summer.
That scenario was thrown into question a few weeks ago when it was learned that the 49ers were kicking the tires on Smith, but the 49ers decided to pass and now the deadline for rival clubs to try to steal Smith away is about to pass as well.
Teams have until Friday to submit offers to restricted free agents such as Smith, so it’s still possible someone will try to make him an offer that the Bucs don’t want to match but you get the feeling Smith doesn’t expect such an offer to come his way.
If he did he probably would not have signed the addendum that allowed him to report right along with the rest of the Bucs players to One Buc Place for the start of the team’s offseason workout program, which the Bucs kicked off on Monday.
This is all good news for the Bucs, who still believe in Smith’s skill set despite the fact injuries have forced him to spend a good part of the last two years, including all but the season opener last year, on the sidelines. And well they should.
Smith, you may remember, had 13.5 sacks while working in a limited role during his first two years with the Bucs, so if he can stay healthy he could prove to be the player that gives the team the boost its looking for in its pass rush.
Many still seem to believe the Bucs will look to get that boost from the draft, and while it seems a bit unlikely that they would look for that boost in the first round, spending a draft pick on a defensive end is certainly not out of the question.
General manager Jason Licht all but admitted earlier this week that he’s starting to grow a little concerned about the age of some of the players on his defensive front and that he wouldn’t mind injecting a bit of youth into that group.
“Ideally, we would like to inject some youth into that position,’’ Licht said. “Once again, we feel comfortable with the players that we have there. We have some very good players along that D-line and they are going to get better too.
“They are going to be better this year than they were last year with development of some of the younger guys like Noah (Spence), so we feel good about it, but yeah, you’re always trying to inject youth.’