Set to become a free agent on March 13th, Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith went on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” to discuss going through free agency for the first time, if he would like to remain in Tampa, his teammate Jameis Winston, and also reminisced about his performance at the NFL Combine.
While he said that most of the process consists of putting the negotiations in his agent’s hands, Smith would like to return to the Bucs.
“I hope so,” Smith said. “I love Tampa, the community, teammates, everybody there. I’ve kind of established myself there, so why not?”
He also defended his quarterback Jameis Winston, who had a difficult year in 2018. Some critics have harped on Winston for some of his antics including “eating a W” and still have doubts about his leadership and passing abilities. Smith shot down any of those thoughts that Winston is anything less then a top quarterback.
“They don’t know a thing about Jameis,” Smith said. “He’s the most humble, coolest guys to be around. He’s all in, he loves his teammates dearly because he wants you to succeed, it’s all real. If you were around his family and close friends, he’s like that 24/7.”
When asked about whether Winston is a franchise quarteback, Smith took less then a second to think about it.
“Absolutely,” Smith said. “That’s my guy.”
Whether or not Smith will be around to see if Winston improves in 2019 comes down to if the Bucs front office decides to sign him to an extension, let him go into free agency, or place the franchise tag on him to give him another year to prove himself.
Smith has played in 64 straight games since entering the league, but even in a contract year, he was inconsistent on the season. Smith has said he has talked in depth with new head coach Bruce Arians at the facility, as the Bucs hope that new coaching voices in front of him will get the best out of Smith in 2019, should the team roll the dice on him.
"I love Tampa — the community, my teammates, everybody there."