Smith, who could become a free agent in March, gave a shout out, via Twitter, to new Bucs quarterbacks coach Thad Lewis. Tampa Bay promoted Lewis from assistant wide receivers coach, a role he worked in since 2021.
“My boy Thad Lewis got the Bucs QB coach job! Bro that’s crazy,” Smith tweeted. “So happy for the progress of everyone in our camp.”
Smith then explained his ties with Lewis, which goes back to their high school days in Florida. Lewis started for Hialeah-Miami Lakes, and Smith, who played for Miramar, watched him play once against Miami Northwestern.
“Three years ago we spoke this up,” Smith wrote.
Lewis went on to Duke for college football, where he started four seasons, but he didn’t find a niche as quarterback in the NFL. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the then-St. Louis Rams in 2010, which began a journeyman career that went through 2017.
After the NFL, Lewis jumped into coaching, first with UCLA as an offensive analyst from 2018 to 2019. Lewis then joined the Bucs staff in the middle of the Tom Brady era.
Smith became a potential free agent target of the Bucs since Brady’s February 1 retirement. The Bucs’ hires in recent weeks, including Lewis’ promotion, couldn’t hurt attracting Smith.
Tampa Bay hired former Seahawks quarterback coach Dave Canales as the offensive coordinator on February 15. The Bucs then hired Brad Idzik as the wide receivers coach after his time with the Seahawks as the assistant wide receivers coach.
Smith tweeted “well deserved” after news broke about Canales’ hire. Canales helped Smith emerge as a Pro Bowl starting quarterback in 2022 with 4,282 yards passing for 30 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll expressed his desire to keep Smith at quarterback for 2023 instead of letting him go in free agency. Smith could command up to $39.3 million annually according to Spotrac. The Bucs’ $55.5 million over the salary cap makes it a monumental challenge to find a way to snatch the Florida native from Seattle, but the Bucs front office succeeded at working the salary cap in the past with voidable years.
Smith Reacts to Insider’s Take
Shortly after Smith reacted to Lewis’ promotion, Seahawks insider Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times speculated that Smith really could leave Seattle for Tampa.
Condotta called Smith’s reaction “interesting” and noted that the Bucs also interviewed Seahawks quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph before the Lewis hire. Smith downplayed it all.
“Nothing interesting about it besides my real friend getting a job he’s been working for and me being proud of him,” Smith tweeted in response to Condotta. “Thad is the all-time passing leader in Duke football history. Always told me G you gonna show em. Proud of my dawg!”
Brady Could Come Through
Tampa Bay’s salary cap situation, largely hindered by Brady’s $35.1 million dead cap hit, could lessen greatly if the Bucs can get Brady to sign a dummy contract in June. It would spread the cap hit out over two years with $11.94 million in 2023 and $24.328 million in 2024 according to Pro Football Talk. Brady submitted a retirement letter on February 10 to the NFL and NFLPA, but the Bucs could at still ask Brady for a dummy contract.
The Bucs can also clear ample cap space without Brady’s help as Pewter Report salary cap analyst Joshua Queipo sees it. Tampa Bay clears $22 million, according to Queipo, by cutting Cameron Brate, Donovan Smith, Leonard Fournette, and Russell Gage. Tampa Bay could also clear up to $29.5 million, Queipo noted, by restructuring Carlton Davis III, Ryan Jensen, Shaq Barrett, and Vita Vea.