If the Bucs need any more salary cap room this offseason the team could part ways with either left tackle Donovan Smith or center Ryan Jensen – or both – the way those players’ contracts are structured.

Smith and Jensen each have one year left on their deals, but could be released or traded without any dead cap ramifications at all the way those contracts are structured. Smith is scheduled to make $14.25 million this season and Jensen is set to earn $10 million in 2020.

But neither player is going anywhere because they both played well in 2020, with Jensen perhaps having his best season since joining the team in 2018, and Smith really coming on strong since the bye week during Tampa Bay’s eight-game winning streak that culminated in a Super Bowl championship by beating Kansas City, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

Bucs C Ryan Jensen

Bucs C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On a conference call with Bucs beat writers and local reporters, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht confirmed that both Smith and Jensen would be back in Tampa Bay to help the Bucs defend their Super Bowl title.

“We love Ryan and Donovan,” Licht said. “They played a pivotal role in our offense in their protection and in the run game. So, we envision both Ryan and Donovan being on this team. We expect them – not just envision them – [to be on this team].”

Smith struggled early in 2020, giving up five of his six sacks in the regular season before the bye week in Week 13, and there was some speculation that the Bucs might move first-round pick Tristan Wirfs from right tackle to left tackle to possibly replace him in 2021. But Smith stepped up his game and played absolutely stellar football down the stretch en route to winning Super Bowl LV.

Smith played so well that the Bucs might extend the 27-year old tackle’s contract this offseason to help create some cap room in 2021, although Licht didn’t comment on that possibility when asked. The same could be said for the 30-year old Jensen, who could see another year or multiple years added to his contract too in order to help the team’s 2021 cap.

Licht said during the call that neither he nor the team publicly comments on any contract negotiations for any player.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
9 months ago

This is an area that you don’t touch if you’re the GM. Our Oline has just started to gel and though D Smith & Jensen have seen their share of struggles they were pretty solid down the stretch. Sure we can draft their replacements and groom them for a year but definitely wouldn’t be in favor of out right cutting them foolishly hoping to replace them.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0(@alldaway)
9 months ago

Bucs don’t need to go guns blazing to upgrade the depth on the OL. Grab an OL or two from the draft and season them for a year and will be ready to go in 2022.
If the Bucs are pro active in building OL depth the future is bright for this team.

9 months ago

Getting rid of either of these guys would be foolish. While Smith has had some bad years, he came on strong when it mattered most. I think we stick with him and maybe ask for an Evans type restructure if cap is an issue.

Bucc My Life
Bucc My Life(@buccmylife)
9 months ago

Ofcourse he said that, it’s standard GM speak. Saying anything else could sour their potential trade value. But Id rather replace Jensen than watch Godwin, Barrett, or David walk.

Every GM will tell you their players on-contract are great, and that they have no plans on parting with them. And then they will, if/when it’s the right move and the value is there. Its negotiating from a postion of strength, and at the least not telegraphing your draft intentions.

9 months ago

I guess will see l, but I’d be leery of Smith still. He took 5 years to perform consistently for less than half season? I don’t know but I don’t think he has the focus or will to play well for a whole damn season. Again will see if they keep him.
Jensen I’d try to extend, the guy played fantastic and love the nasty streak on the field.