We’re about to find out just how much the Buccaneers really like Jacquies Smith, the oft-injured left defensive end who some inside the organization believe may be their best pass rusher.
Former Bucs safety John Lynch, now the general manager of the 49ers, confirmed over the weekend that he recently brought Smith, a restricted free agent, to San Francisco for a visit.
Lynch made it clear that the 49ers have not put together a contract offer for Smith, but if they eventually do the Bucs will have to match it if they really want Smith back.
Now, there’s nothing to suggest the Bucs don’t want Smith, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL in week one, back on the roster in 2017. Though he’s struggled with injuries throughout his time in Tampa Bay, he ranked second on the team in sacks with seven in 2015 and second with 6.5 in 2014.
The $1.7 million tender the Bucs gave him, though, was the lowest, meaning the Bucs only have a right to match a rival offer and would not be due a draft pick in return should he sign elsewhere.
That could make it easy for a team to pull him away, and when you consider Smith was only working passing downs when he got hurt last year, you have to figure there’s a price at which the Bucs may just let him go.
This is a situation that bears watching. The Bucs do have veteran Robert Ayers and also, promising Noah Spence, who’s about to enter his second year. However, they never seem to have enough edge rushers, and they certainly do not want to lose this one. But, if the price becomes too high they may have to say good bye to Jacquies Smith.