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 – 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.