Ex-Buccaneers Super Bowl Starter Stays Unsigned for 1 Reason: Insider

Donovan Smith

Getty Former Buccaneers starter Donovan Smith remains unsigned after one season with the Chiefs.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Donovan Smith has yet to find a landing spot despite starting his second Super Bowl in four seasons.

Smith started for the Buccaneers in the 2020 Super Bowl, and he did it again in 2023 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite his overall success, Smith’s penchant for penalties have left him a free agent according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.

“Smith has 29 over the last four seasons, which ties him for the third-most of any player,” Barnwell wrote. “No. 1 is former Chiefs teammate and fellow tackle Jawaan Taylor, so that should be proof that penalties alone can’t keep players from winning a Super Bowl. Smith is 30 and missed the final five games of the regular season with a neck injury before returning in the postseason, so there might be some medical concerns around him as well.”

Buccaneers fans know all too well about Smith’s struggles with penalties. Smith committed 29 alone during the Tom Brady years, and the former Penn State standout had 30 in his first four seasons.

Tampa Bay already brought back one former 2020 Super Bowl starting safety Jordan Whitehead after his stint with the New York Jets. That same occurrence for Smith doesn’t seem as likely despite his latest Super Bowl appearance and recent one-year, $3 million contract with the Chiefs.

What Helped Patrick Mahomes Could Help Baker Mayfield

Donovan Smith

GettyDonovan Smith helped the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl in the 2020 season.

If the Buccaneers did take another chance on Smith, one number does stand out for his pass-block win rate. That’s also if Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield can utilize Smith’s services in a similar way to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“As I wrote before the big game, one of Patrick Mahomes’ superpowers is avoiding sacks when pressured, but Smith posted a pass block win rate just under 91% during his lone season with Kansas City, suggesting he did a sound job of protecting Mahomes during the first 2.5 seconds of plays. That mark ranked 18th among all tackles,” Barnwell wrote.

However, Smith could be hard-pressed to beat out Buccaneers right tackle Luke Goedeke. The former Central Michigan standout had a 72.5 overall rating and a 71.2 pass blocker rating from Pro Football Focus. Smith had a  55.4 overall grade and 60.3 pass blocking grade from PFF.

Instead of the Buccaneers, Barnwell suggested the Chicago Bears as a landing spot for Smith. The Bears own the No. 1 pick and could bring in former USC quarterback Caleb Williams, so a veteran blocker would help as Barnwell pointed out.

Donovan Smith Could Complete Legendary Trifecta

Another destination for Smith could be the Jets since he grew up a fan of the team. He talked about that before the Super Bowl.

“I grew up a Jets fan. I’m from New York, so that would definitely be something I would appreciate before my career ends,” Smith told reporters via the New York Post in February.

That means Smith could say he blocked for Brady, Mahomes, and Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers — three of the greatest quarterbacks ever.

“That would be some legacy,’’ Smith said. “I take it as a privilege. At the end of the day, I’m sure that these guys have a say on who’s protecting their blind side, so that’s a testament to me and my work and what I provide. I’m writing my own legacy.’’

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