FAB 4. Inside Smith’s Contract

The contract numbers for Donovan Smith’s three-year, $41.5 million contract have been revealed, but they don’t tell the whole story. Smith is set to receive $12.5 million this season, followed by $14.5 million next year and $14.25 million in 2021. But there is more to this contract than meets the eye.

The first two years – totaling $27 million – are guaranteed, essentially making this a two-year deal for Smith, as he could be released prior to 2021 without Tampa Bay having any dead salary cap money. The 25-year old Smith agreed to a short-term contract because if he continues to ascend as a player, he’ll be slated for free agency again at age 28, assumedly still in his prime and ready for an even bigger third contract that could carry him into his early 30s. That would be a huge win for Smith – and perhaps Tampa Bay if he develops into a Top 5 offensive tackle that is worth paying top dollar to keep.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

But this short-term contract affords the Bucs time to draft and develop a player that could possibly replace Smith – or at least provide some competition that could help push Smith’s game to new heights. Whether it’s this year or next year, look for Tampa Bay to draft an offensive tackle that the team believes could develop into a starting-caliber player on the left side.

The Bucs wanted to avoid using the franchise tag on Smith for several reasons, and really pushed to get Smith locked up with a multi-year deal. The first reason was salary cap flexibility this year.

Had Tampa Bay franchised Smith, his cap value would have been $14.1 million this year. Instead, it’s $12.5 million, which saves the Bucs $1.6 million. To put that number in perspective, Justin Evans, the team’s starting free safety, makes $1.4 million, so that’s a substantial cap savings, especially in a year like 2019 when the Bucs are cap-crunched.

The second reason as it pertains to the salary cap is the deal itself. Because Smith is a good, but not great offensive tackle right now, the team was able to get him for a bargain over the first two years. Atlanta’s left tackle, Bruce Matthews, is two years older than Smith and made his first Pro Bowl last season. The Falcons signed him to a five-year extension worth $14.5 million per year.

Including $13,946,000 in signing bonus money, Matthews received $22.5 million in the first year of his contract extension in 2018. His two-year total is $33 million and Matthews’ three-year total is $46 million.

By comparison, Smith didn’t receive a signing bonus and will receive just $12.5 million this year in the form of a $7 million base salary and a $5.5 million roster bonus, which he received immediately. That’s $10 million less upfront than what Matthews received, and Smith’s two-year total is $27 million, which is $6 million less than what Matthews will receive over the same span. After three years, Matthews is at $46 million whereas Smith is at $41.25 million.

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg and GM Jason Licht
Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Had Bucs general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg used the franchise tag on Smith this year, Tampa Bay wouldn’t have had the cap relief this year and be faced with the prospect of perhaps having to use it again on Smith if he performed well, but couldn’t come to terms on a new deal. The cost of franchising Smith again in 2020 would be $17 million.

So instead of the possibility to using the tag on Smith twice for a total of $31.1 million, the Bucs re-signed Smith for two years at $27 million – saving $4.1 million over two years as a result, and then getting an extra year on Smith’s contract on top of the deal. Tampa Bay can keep Smith in 2021 or move on from him in two years without any dead cap penalty.

And perhaps more importantly, having the team’s left tackle under contract for next year frees up the franchise tag for 2020 in case the Bucs have to use it on quarterback Jameis Winston.

1
2
3
4
5
Previous articleEye In The Sky: Bucs LT Smith’s Tape
Next articleWould Bucs Target Glennon As No. 2 QB?
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

45 COMMENTS

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for all that read my winning Bucs Offseason Battle Plan. I also wanted to thank Pewter Report staff for voting it the best plan, even if it didn’t get all the 1st place votes.

    https://www.pewterreport.com/forums/topic/reader-submitted-bucs-battle-plan-contest/

    +19
    0
    Rating: +19. From 19 votes.
    Please wait...
    • It’s a good plan. I don’t agree with all of it- like getting Mosley in FA– but it is quite solid.
      Nice job.
      Enjoy Ford’s Garage.You;ve earned it.

      +5
      -1
      Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
      Please wait...
    • Congrats man

      +7
      0
      Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
      Please wait...
    • That is a pretty solid plan. I like taking Allen, may be a fan of a few other guys in that slot, but he wouldn’t hurt my feelings. Lindstrom in 2 and Amani in 3, if they’re available at those spots it would be ridiculous not to take them. Overall, your plan beats any of the PR writers. Again I say, solid plan, sombrero. Kudos on winning that gift card, enjoy

      +2
      0
      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  2. I have no doubt that White would be a great fit for Tampa. I’d like to have him on the team. I just don’t think he’s worth the number five pick. So, the Bucs can overpay for White, pass on him and know he won’t survive until the second round, or–
    They can trade down. I’ve seen White hang around until the mid teens in some mocks. I think he could be there if the Bucs trade down to ten to 15. It’d be white knuckle time in the war room, but the Bucs would have some extra picks. Probably at least an extra second or third. Maybe even an extra first for 2020.
    The risk would be worth it.

    +16
    -2
    Rating: +14. From 18 votes.
    Please wait...
  3. Devin White is the best pick for the Bucs at 5th of all the chips fall where we think, especially if we are losing K. Alexander, gotta have a thumper to replace him and I think Devin White will be an upgrade.

    +12
    -3
    Rating: +9. From 15 votes.
    Please wait...
  4. I think white will be a stud, but not at 5. If we can trade down a few, absolutely take him. There could be some studs that fall. Let’s not pretend a few QBs could go ahead of us and drop one of those studs to us. But there is no way you pass on one of those stud defensive lineman for a linebacker. You could get someone like Devin Bush in the jate first early second if need be.
    As for Bucco bruce, I’ve already stated how much I love that mans swag and how he runs shit. If you dont like his style get out. We need that on this team. As for Smith’s deal, it was a smart move at the price we got. What if he had a really good year? That price wouldve sky rocketed and really put us in a bind.
    Again I’m almost frustrating back if it’s there and make someone pay. However I have seen mocks that have both quinnen William’s and Josh Allen falling to us. You never know, noone though oj would fall to us

    +11
    -1
    Rating: +10. From 12 votes.
    Please wait...
  5. I really like Devon White’s physical style of play, his speed on the field, and his character. The Bucs can’t draft him at #5.

    If the Bucs stand pat at #5 and a few offensive players go in the top 4 (Candidates include Kyler Murray, DK Metcalf, Dwayne Haskins), how the heck do the Bucs pass on Bosa or Allen?

    Even if no offensive players go in the top 4, the Bucs will still have a shot at Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat. Pass rushers are at a premium and as free agents they cost a lot more than linebackers.

    Also, there are very good inside linebackers to be found in later rounds: Notre Dame has two, Alabama has one, Clemson has two. It’s been easy to find value in later rounds at linebacker. Need proof? Look no farther than David, Kwon, Kendall, Bond, Taylor. David was drafted highest. #58 overall.

    I definitely agree that the Bucs need an impact player and future pro bowler at #5. The best way to get players to the pro bowl is to win. Winning starts with defense and getting after Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. JPP was great last year, but is 31. Nassib was great last year, but is entering his last year on his rookie deal. Spence hasn’t proven anything(good) yet. Rush linebackers/Edge/DE should be the priority with a top 5 pick.

    +16
    -2
    Rating: +14. From 18 votes.
    Please wait...
  6. In a draft with elite talent along the DL and our needs along the DL I think it would crazy to use a top 5 pick on a LB. Bucs might not be high on Ed Oliver but they should be, he would be a terror in this 1 gap scheme that lets him consistently get up field with Vita occupying 2 blockers. Hopefully they are throwing a smoke screen with the White talk but drafting a LB at 5 when you need talent in the trenches would be doing this team a disservice. If you want to tell me they think Jonah Williams/Ford/Juwan can play guard or tackle so they want either of them at 5, I don’t love it but it at least makes sense. Last year they ranted and raved about the Jaguars model of building through the trenches and now here we are doing dumb stuff like ignoring those needs for a LB lol. Arians loves the S/LB hybrids in his defense what about a reunion with Mark Barron. Devin White is not going to force the ball out of QBs hands quicker to help our unproven secondary and he wont open up running lanes for Barber or Jones which have to be top priority this summer. Licht has drafted ZERO Pro Bowl players since Lovie left who controlled those decisions, hasn’t drafted/acquired a OL that was worth the contract/draft pick since Lovie left either and has selected 1 DL with some promise in Vea. FIX THE TRENCHES! As for Donovan it’s a good deal regarding the actual contract because the new coach wont be tied to him for long if this doesn’t work out. Bc as much as I think he’s mediocre I certainly don’t think Licht is capable of replacing him with similar or better production.

    +14
    -2
    Rating: +12. From 16 votes.
    Please wait...
  7. Rotational LB or starter in RT Juwaan Taylor. You start by discussing the importance of getting a pro bowler, then go into how he may just be rotational? Want a pro bowler? Get CJ Mosely.

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
    • I love cj but that dude is going to ask for a ton of money that the bucs dont have

      +2
      0
      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  8. Redskins are definitely in the hunt to move up to get a starting QB, so if they offer the right deal, snap it up. Afterall, the Bu s still need a solid kicke!.
    As for music during practice, that should be something you earn. No tickey no washy.

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
    • I don’t think the Skins are drafting a QB in the first round after that Case Keenum trade yesterday

      +2
      -1
      Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
      • Being that they only gave up a 6th in exchange for Keenum and a 7th, doubt that precludes them from grabbing a QB early. They’re only paying him $3.5M as well since Denver is covering half his salary.

        +6
        0
        Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
        Please wait...
        • Case “Placeholder” Keenum?

          Exactly correct FLBoy84! That guy is a one year fix to prep the rookie they’re bound to draft.

          +5
          0
          Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
          Please wait...
  9. Like White as well, just not sure at #5. Would prefer to trade down, even to the mid teens to acquire more picks. Some solid FA options at LB available that might be signed to short term deals to fill in for a year or two as well, or grab Bush or Mack later in the 1st/2nd. With the multitude of needs and the limited available cap space over the next few years, having as many quality players on rookie deals as possible is needed.

    +5
    0
    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  10. I have every reason to believe that LB Devin White/LSU would make a great pick for the Bucs even at #5. I even have him as my 1st pick in a trade down mock draft, but not at #5. But there are those other than some Buc fans who have reservations. This is the time of year when everybody has an opinion, some dubious. I don’t do film study. I watch highlight tapes like most fans.

    I have no idea if this analyst is legit or just another talking head, but thought his film study deserved some scrutiny. But you gotta be careful, this could be a commercial for the Broncos. Below is his video opinion of drafting Devin White at #5. For your evaluation of both the analyst and White as a day one starter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dV4t663pPQ

    +8
    0
    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Nice link macabee. The guy who made that video also made one about Quinnen Williams which I found informative as well.

      0
      0
      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  11. No absolutely not. White is not a good fit for the Bucs at 5. At 5 it better be Sweat, or if any of Josh Allen, Bosa, Quinnen Williams falls. Or trade down a little and take Greedy/Murphy.

    +7
    -7
    Rating: 0. From 14 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Sweat would be such a disappointment at 5. I’d maybe be okay with at 15, but 5 is just hoping his potential turns out great.

      0
      0
      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  12. I think White is the pick at 5, unless Josh Allen or Q falls down. I think in the top 5, like Scott said, you have to go for the guy you know is going to be a day 1 starter and future pro bowler. Don’t take the risk of the flashy player like Sweat or Burns who could turn into a Vic Beasley or Shane Ray and not quite reach their ceiling.

    Also, I think the most important thing for this team in the offseason is to do 3 main things:
    1. Get 2 veteran starting DBs. 1 at corner and 1 at safety. (CB examples McCourty, Claiborne, Desir) (S Amos, Gipson, Cyprien, Weddle)
    2. Get a veteran guard to start next to Dotson. (Iupati, Carpenter, Larson, Lang)
    3. Draft 3 or 4 front 7 defensive players to help with the scheme change.
    I agree with BA this team has the talent and now has the coaching. Let’s make the smart football decisions instead of the flashy ones.

    +10
    -1
    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
    Please wait...
  13. You wouldn’t use the 5th pick on a L.B. if you knew they would turn out to be Lewis, Brooks, or how about Lawrence Taylor? Why is 5th to high for a L.B.? Remember it’s not about just stopping the Q.B.’s in our division. You better be able to get Kamara, and all the great backs in our division on the ground too. That’s where a great L.B. can help turn this defense around.

    +7
    0
    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
    Please wait...
  14. Devin White is a 5th overall pick type of talent the problem is that he doesn’t play a position you spend a 5th overall pick on for a number of reasons:

    1. Like the NBA with 3 point shooting, the NFL has evolved into a high efficiency passing league. Drafting a player who has a marginal role in the passing game is like drafting a back to the basket post-up center in the 3 pt-loving NBA. Sure, the post up player can help your offense, but the teams that are winning championships aren’t doing it because they have that type of player on their team.
    2. Linebacker doesn’t have the same urgency to draft in Rd 1 like DE, LT or QB does. The Bucs have their own experience with Lavonte David (2nd Rd) and Kwon Alexander (4th Rd) performing as well as a 1st round linebacker would. It’s the same argument as why GM’s rarely spend draft capital on kickers. If I can hit on a linebacker in Rd 4 why am I considering spending my top 5 pick on one?
    3. There is a decent statistical evaluation done by a Colts fan that shows that while 1st round players at any position are going to get more playing time (and tackles) that there is reason to hold off on taking one early vs a premium position like DE which has a steeper fall (www.stampedeblue.com/2018/2/15/17010930/nfl-draft-is-there-a-best-round-to-draft-a-linebacker-value-over-replacement-defeats)
    4. Even articles proclaiming the value of LBers to cover RB’s use Deion Jones (2nd Rd) and Telvin Smith (4th Rd) as examples of players who have great value in these roles. So why is a team that has several needs in the secondary, protecting the passer and rushing the passer considering a player who does none of those things at 5? (www.theringer.com/2018/4/12/17227830/draft-linebackers-roquan-smith-deion-jones-alvin-kamara)

    +8
    0
    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
    Please wait...
  15. At this point, I’ll be happy with selecting either Williams, Allen, Sweat, Bosa, or White..all those guys could be a game changer that we need.

    +8
    -1
    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
    Please wait...
    • No sweat! He’s overrated. Workout warrior. Not even close to Bosa or Allen.

      0
      0
      No votes yet.
      Please wait...
  16. While I understand that people are hesitant for the bucs to draft a lb at 5, I don’t think you could go wrong with selecting White there. If Bosa, Williams, Allen, or Sweat is there..you take one of those guys..if we stay put at 5 and decide not to trade down or just cant find someone to trade down with, I have no problem with selecting white there..I can only imagine that with his speed that he would be all over the field making plays for us.

    +5
    0
    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  17. What a wasted pick Beckwith was. Having to blow a top 5 pick to replace him…. ugh.

    +2
    -8
    Rating: -6. From 10 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Wasted? He was injured..kind of messed up to say that about something he had no control over.

      +4
      0
      Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
      Please wait...
      • Actually he did have some control. He let a guy with a suspended license drive his car recklessly and slam it into a gate. So yes he had control over it and he got himself injured. So, yes having to blow a top 5 pick because Beckwith can’t make better decisions stinks.

        +3
        -2
        Rating: +1. From 5 votes.
        Please wait...
        • ahh so you’re one of those perfect human beings, amazing, nice to meet you perfect guy who never makes mistakes.

          +3
          0
          Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
          Please wait...
          • I would say there’s a difference between making a mistake (something we all do) and making a reckless decision that ends your professional sports career and costs you millions in lost earnings.

            But in the end Beckwith was just living his life. It was 27-53 Jason Licht that wagered a 3rd round pick Beckwith would become a long term starter at MLB. Like most of the Lichtanic’s time here that wager came up snakeyes.

            +2
            -3
            Rating: -1. From 5 votes.
            Please wait...
      • BucRy, I have to believe his statement was made simply to envoke an argument. No way he is that damn ignorant

        +2
        0
        Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
        Please wait...
  18. Devin White looks like one helluva player, but this team definitely needs massive trench upgrades on both sides. Is anyone having problems with the love being shown to peyton barber? Cause I mean we all watch the dude, we all know he’s not gonna break off those Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson type runs. But he does make the first dude miss quite frequently and he straight up thumps most would be tacklers. Still think we need a compliment change of pace back but think that the chatter of him getting a long term extension with the team is warranted.

    +4
    -1
    Rating: +3. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  19. Anyone remember a RB we had briefly, Thomas Jones? Peyton Barber reminds me alot of Thomas Jones…

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  20. Right now I have it Bosa, Allen, White, Oliver, Sweat and Williams in that order.

    If we were to trade down and get White at 7th pick or 10th pick or whatever that would be fantastic! We could still get decent DL and/or OL talent with other picks. Yes, we could address DB and RB too with remaining pick(s) if we had additional picks because of a trade.
    ______________
    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  21. Take white at 5 and never look back! Don’t pass on great player for meadoker ones ! He’s going to be epic!

    +3
    -1
    Rating: +2. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  22. I believe that in the top five you have to go with a trench player. I do like White but in a trade down scenario.

    +1
    -2
    Rating: -1. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
  23. I remember Jones well, Charlie.
    We got him for nothing from the Cardinals and then we rarely used him but when we did he was always effective.
    We let him get away to the Jets where he put up a few 1.000 yard seasons.
    Another fantastic move by Gruden and Allen.

    +2
    -1
    Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
    • We acquired Thomas Jones via TRADE from the Cardinals for Marquise Walker. Jones rushed for 627 yards 137 carries, scored 3 TD’s and lost 1 fumble. He was in a crowded backfield with Pittman and Alstott and he left via FA in 2004 to the Bears not the Jets. Allen didnt join the team until Jones was gone……..just saying.

      +2
      0
      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  24. If the Bucs did draft White, would there be anything in his contract about his horse riding? I know that’s his passion, but anyone can get thrown from a horse.

    +2
    -1
    Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...
    • That’s true, horses were even Superman’s kryptonite

      +2
      -1
      Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
  25. I don’t understand why people don’t like White as a player. White has size and the ability to run sideline to sideline with blazing speed. He hustles to the ball and is always going for the strip. His ability to stack and shed is superior than most PRO NFL LBs in the league. Yeah White has weaknesses but his strengths are off the charts good.

    Am I missing something?

    +4
    0
    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
    Please wait...
  26. I like white a lot. But the best player on my board is Q. Williams. He is unblockable at times. If Q is off the board then I’m good with White.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  27. Sweat is definitely not too 5 and not in my top 10. Be careful getting fooled by his ridiculous 40 time. Watch his tape. He’s good, but not great.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...
  28. I like White as the first pick after a trade down. That would also allow us to get a top RG too like Lindstrom. Another great article Scott.

    +1
    0
    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
    Please wait...