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Buccaneers releasing veteran LT Donovan Smith in salary cap-saving move

Donovan Smith's eight-year tenure in Tampa Bay is finished.

The Buccaneers are releasing the veteran left tackle on Tuesday, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. The team later confirmed the release.

"I want to thank Donovan for all that he has done for the Buccaneers on and off the field over the past eight seasons," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement on Tuesday. "He stepped in as our starter at left tackle in 2015 and his durability and dependability at one of the most important positions in football played a significant role in our offensive success during his time here."

Smith served as a reliable blindside blocker for Jameis Winston and Tom Brady during his time in Tampa, but struggled in his final season with the Buccaneers in 2022, struggling with avoiding holding pass rushers and committing a career-high 12 penalties. Smith posted his worst Pro Football Focus grade of his career in his age-29 season, and with a cap number of $17.9 million entering 2023, the Buccaneers wisely decided to clear nearly $10 million in space by releasing him prior to the start of the 2023 league year.

Smith reaches the free-agent market days before business opens for every player with a contract that expired at the end of the 2022 season, and he's expected to attract interest from teams in need of a veteran left tackle. He's not quite the same player who was an important part of Tampa Bay's long-term plans, but he's landing among the top 101 free agents in this class.

With Super Bowl-winning experience, Smith carries value as a free agent. Where he lands will be determined in the weeks ahead.

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