Mar 7, 2023
Jenna LaineESPN Staff Writer
- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster purge continued Tuesday with the team releasing starting left tackle Donovan Smith.
“I want to thank Donovan for all that he has done for the Buccaneers on and off the field over the past eight seasons,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He stepped in as our starter at left tackle in 2015 and his durability and dependability at one of the most important positions in football played a significant role in our offensive success during his time here.”
The Bucs entered this offseason $55 million over the salary cap — $35 million of it going toward recently retired quarterback Tom Brady — and have to become cap compliant by 4 p.m. ET on March 15 when the new league year begins, so the move was expected. The Bucs must not only get out of the red but must address the quarterback situation, as Kyle Trask is the only quarterback on their roster.
Smith had a $17.9 million cap hit for 2023, fifth highest of any current player on the Bucs’ roster. Smith’s release opens up $9.95 million in cap space but also creates $7.95 million in dead money.
The Bucs are also expected to release tight end Cameron Brate and running back Leonard Fournette, who told the Tampa Bay Times last week that he requested his release.
A second-round draft pick in 2015, Smith, 29, went on to start 124 regular-season games — sixth most of any offensive lineman in the league from 2015 to 2022. But he had one of his worst seasons as a starter in 2022, with a pass rush win rate of 78.3% and a run block win rate of 64.9%.
He also dealt with elbow and foot injuries during the 2022 season, causing him to miss four regular-season games.