Donovan Smith was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in round two of the 2015 NFL draft. Smith became a starter and respectably, was an iron man for the Bucs. Faced with consistent turmoil and frequent ridicule, Smith held onto his starting spot on Tampa’s line. Through the years, Donovan Smith has taken Bucs fans on roller coaster rides each season, but any amusement park enthusiast can attest to the fact that all rollercoasters come with low lows and high highs.
For Tampa Bay’s 2015 second rounder, the highest of heights is unmistakably the Buccaneers 2020 playoff run. For the Bucs, as an organization, being able to hoist the Lombardi trophy and call themselves Super Bowl champions is as far as any team can climb. For Smith as an individual, the 2020 season was an extreme test. 2020 was the first time in Donovan Smith’s career when his play was truly set to be put under a microscope. For years the Buccaneers toiled away in mediocrity, leaving only the team’s fans watching. 2020’s off-season wiped that slate clean when Tampa altered the NFL landscape by signing a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback and making themselves must-watch television. Future Hall of Famer or not, Tom Brady does not provide mobility to his team. Brady signing with the Buccaneers meant gone were the days of Jameis Winston scrambling and further gone were the days of Tampa playing games in obscurity. Tom Brady meant all the eyes were on the Buccaneers and all the pressure was on their left tackle.
In 2020, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers passing attack led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With Donovan Smith holding up at left tackle, Tampa Bay’s passing game was top notch. Brady finished top five in passing yards, attempts, completions, and touchdowns. Through Tampa’s run to championship glory, the competition was stiff. A good deal of attention is focused on the three Hall of Fame quarterbacks that the Buccaneers defense had to face, but to bring home the title, Tampa Bay’s offense had to match wits with elite pass rushers.
Round one was the “I want Tom!” NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young. Donovan Smith versus Chase Young was unsettling for fans, at the time. One zero sack outing later and fans cheered as their team was advancing to the Divisional Round. The Divisional Round sent Tampa on the road where Donovan Smith and the Buccaneers had to face a bitter rival. The New Orleans Saints had continually embarrassed Tampa Bay’s offensive line for years. The playoffs would tell a new tale. New Orleans’ defensive line did its best Chase Young impersonation from one week prior, recording zero sacks. The Buccaneers moved up the bracket into the NFC Championship game, traveling to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. At the height of his powers, Donovan Smith’s next challenge was the famed edge-rushing duo of the ‘Smith brothers.’ Za’Darius and Preston Smith each got Tom Brady down on the ‘Frozen Tundra’ zero times. Tampa Bay, with its offensive line playing at an elite level, returned home to Florida, as NFC champions, to play in the first ever home Super Bowl. Smith had to lace up his cleats for the largest spotlight of his career, Super Bowl 55 against the Kansas City Chiefs. There would wind up being a quarterback under constant pressure in Super Bowl 55, but it wasn’t Smith’s. Tom Brady and the Bucs offense raced to 31 points and the NFL title. It’s inarguable that Donovan Smith has been controversial. His tenure in Tampa Bay was chaotically unpredictable at times and he is coming off one of his worst seasons as a Buc, but he does deserve credit for having good moments as well.
The NFL offseason has now entered its post-draft stage. Tampa Bay created a hole when they released Smith earlier this offseason and they did not directly address that hole through the draft. The Bucs added a young lineman on day two with position flexibility, but Cody Mauch was referred to as a guard in Jason Licht’s press conference. Tampa Bay still has options on the table— the team is in the process of swapping Tristan Wirfs to the left side and moving around current pieces on their roster.
IT’S OFFICIAL! Tristan Wirfs is MOVING to left tackle - YouTube
An understandably under-discussed possibility is a reunion with the franchise’s former second-round pick—
I don’t doubt that the notion of bringing back Donovan Smith to Tampa Bay may be enough to give a fan a stomachache. Fair facts and logic need to be used and bias needs to be ignored. If he were to be brought back, the contract Smith would be under is destined to be significantly cheaper than any one he has received previously. He is no longer the franchise’s left tackle; he is a veteran stop gap solution. The Buccaneers also may be getting an oddly motivated Smith. If Jason Licht were to sign Donovan Smith to a one-year contract, he would then be playing to prove he is deserving of another NFL contract somewhere else season. Money can be the ultimate motivator. For the first time in Donovan Smith’s career, he is without a team. His future is completely up in the air, he has no security, no safety net, nothing to fall back on. Without a good year’s worth of tape in 2023 Donovan Smith may have started his last game in the National Football League.
Is there any merit to the idea of bringing in Donovan Smith on a cheap contract?
This poll is closed
I HATE to admit it, but it does make some sense.
Are you kidding me? There is NO WAY!