It’s nothing personal, just football
I’ve been a big fan of replacing Donovan Smith over the last 4 to 5 seasons. A month ago, I wrote a piece on the fact that the offensive line, in particular, left tackle, needed to be addressed once and for a while. It has been 21 seasons since the Bucs last chose a left tackle in the first round (Kenyatta Walker, Florida). Not sure if that pick should even count, being he was switched to the right side the following season. That is hard for a big Bucs fan like myself to understand. If one of the top two positions on any football team with a right-handed quarterback doesn’t rate a first-round quality player in the draft at the position, then explain to me why it doesn’t warrant it. It’s nothing personal against Smith. 2020 and 2021 saw Smith play above his normal self; everything before and after has been, well, not so swift. Smith did his part off the field, was, and is a stand-up guy. His penchant for holding at seemingly the worst times is well known. This past season, he just seemed to regress. Since he only had one holding penalty all season last year, things were looking up, seemingly. It was not to be, as Smith fell back into his bad habits of causing yellow to fly. He wasn’t the only one to play below their norm in 2022, the team had finally seen enough with their need to cut payroll, and the cap for next season letting him go became an afterthought.
Only two possibilities
So, it’s going to be one of two directions the team could possibly go for next season. You draft a left tackle (this season’s draft is an above-average, deeper year for the position.), or you move Tristan Wirfs to the left side (which he did play some in college) and draft a right tackle. Signing a draftee to a rookie contract puts the team in better fiscal shape cap-wise. It also lets a weak player in a prime position go and play for a possible rival and bless them with all his skill and poise. Some NFL Team will probably sign him if for nothing more than depth. Who knows; he may straighten out and fly right when, once again, battling for a contract. All I know, as far as I’m concerned, is it’s a relief that he is moving on. Best of wishes, Mr. Smith; if nothing else, you were durable while here. Tune into draft day for the rest of the story at left tackle. Go Bucs!!