Chiefs Sign 124-Game Starter in Unexpected Move: Report

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Donovan Smith.

The Kansas City Chiefs are signing veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith to a one-year deal worth up to $9 million according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero on May 3.

Smith, 29, entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2015. Over the last eight seasons he was a full-time starter in Tampa Bay and surrendered 41 sacks in 124 career regular season starts according to PFF. In seven playoff games, one of which was the Super Bowl LV victory over the Chiefs, Smith surrendered 3 total sacks (none of which were against Kansas City).

During the 2022 season, Smith gave up a total of 31 pressures (18 QB hurries, 7 QB hits, 6 sacks) in 13 regular season starts. He also had the second-most penalties called on him among all NFL offensive linemen (12), according to Football Database. Those penalties were for offensive holding (7), false start (4), and illegal use of hands (1).

Chiefs Signal Plans for Jawaan Taylor

The decision to sign Donovan Smith potentially signals what the Chiefs’ plans are for Jawaan Taylor.
Taylor, 25, spent the first four years of his NFL career as the starting right tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In March, he signed a four-year, $80 million deal with Kansas City.

Following the signing, Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star reported that the Chiefs believe Taylor is athletic enough to make the transition to left tackle. “Will wait to see how the next few days/weeks shake out, but anticipate him on the left side,” McDowell wrote on March 13.

General manager Brett Veach detailed Taylor’s athleticism — which could help him make a key position switch — prior to the draft.

“(Jawaan Taylor’s) a really, really athletic player. As we all know, he played right tackle at Florida, predominantly – he had some snaps at left tackle (but) played right tackle in the NFL,” Veach said during his April 20 press conference. “But he’s a guy athletically – I mean he’s long, quick feet, a really, really efficient pass protector and I think it wasn’t a secret that once free agency started, a tackle was at the top of that list and I think we have great flexibility with him. He certainly wants the opportunity to play left, but if we were to draft a left tackle, I mean, we know what Jawaan’s tape looks like at right tackle, so (we were) excited to get him.”

Yet, if Smith, who will be 30 years old by the start of training camp and has been exclusively a left tackle during his eight years in the NFL, can prove he’s still a starting caliber left tackle in the NFL, then it’s possible the Chiefs will keep Taylor at right tackle. That would make Taylor the second-highest paid right tackle in the NFL based on total guarantees ($60 million) according to Over the Cap.

That’s why, after giving Jawaan Taylor an $80 million deal during free agency, signing Donovan Smith is an unexpected move by the defending Super Bowl champions.

Twitter Reacts to Chiefs Signing Donovan Smith

Twitter users reacted to the Chiefs signing Donovan Smith.

“Great move by the Chiefs here, now they can have Smith be at LT, Jawaan Taylor at RT, with Lucas Niang and newly drafted Wanya Morris as their backups,” one Twitter user wrote. “A veteran LT which allows Taylor to play his natural position and gives Niang and Morris more time to develop KC continues to build one of the strongest o-lines in football.”

“Ummm. They’re going into a season with Donovan Smith starting at left tackle??? That’s a big Yikes and a serious downgrade unless he massively improves this season. He was brutal last year,” another user wrote.

“I think he is being brought in as a vet presence for depth. If he wins the starter roll and meets incentives he will be paid as such,” another user wrote. “If he doesn’t win the starting spot he is depth and a cheap vet option.”

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