Bucs agree to extension with defensive coordinator Mike Smith

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reached an agreement with defensive coordinator Mike Smith on a contract extension, a league source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Terms of the new deal were not yet available.

Smith, previously a head coach with the Atlanta Falcons and former Associated Press Coach of the Year, had recently interviewed with both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers, before withdrawing his name from the Chargers' coaching search.

In one year with the Bucs, Smith helped the defense improve its opponents' third-down conversion rate from 46 percent in 2015 (30th in the league) to a league-best 33.8 percent. The defense also went from 23 forced turnovers last season (16th most in the league) to 29 (third most).

Several Bucs players, including defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and cornerback Brent Grimes, spoke highly of Smith at the end of the regular season and expressed hope that he would remain in Tampa.

"He has tons upon tons upon tons of knowledge about this game, and he just loves this game," McCoy said. "He's one of those coaches who, when things don't go right, he doesn't point fingers. If I didn't make a play, Brent Grimes didn't make a play, Lavonte David didn't make a play and it's blatant that we should have made that particular play, he blames himself. A coach like that, you always want to go out and give your all for. We all love him."

Said Grimes: "We all like Mike Smith. He's a great coach. Obviously you've seen his history, from going back to his Jacksonville days to the success he had in Atlanta, then he comes here and does a good job. So, he's obviously a good coach and we all will want him to come back, but he makes his own decisions. But like I said, we all want him back."

The impact of Smith's work could be seen particularly in the second half of the season. The Bucs went from allowing 399 yards and 29 points per game in the first eight games, ranking 28th and 29th in the league, respectively, to allowing 337 yards and 17 points per game, which ranked 13th and fourth.

In the final eight games, they posted a 32 percent third-down conversion rate and 18 takeaways, the most in the league.