The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued their busy offseason Wednesday, agreeing to a two-year, $31.8 million contract extension with offensive tackle Donovan Smith while finalizing a one-year, $10 million deal to bring back defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Smith's extension runs through 2023 and includes $30 million guaranteed over the next two seasons, sources told ESPN.
The move helped the Bucs create more room under the salary cap for this season while still maintaining continuity on the offensive line to protect quarterback Tom Brady.
"Donovan has been a mainstay on our offensive line for the past six seasons and has helped elevate our offense into one of the NFL's best," Bucs GM Jason Licht said in a statement Thursday. "His durability and leadership have been a critical part of our success. Donovan was outstanding throughout our Super Bowl run and we are very excited to have him as a pillar of our line for years to come."
Had Smith played under his current deal, he would have counted $14.25 million against the salary cap in 2021. In that scenario, the Bucs would have had just $1.55 million in salary cap space heading into Wednesday morning, according to Roster Management. Instead, a source told ESPN that he'll count roughly $3.6 million against the cap in 2021, freeing up an additional $10.65 million.
As far as Suh's cap number, a source told ESPN that's still being worked out because there will be voidable years in his contract, something the Bucs have used extensively this free agency period to account for the NFL's 8% salary cap decrease, which allows them to be cap compliant.
Smith has had somewhat of an up-and-down career, although he has displayed remarkable durability, missing just two regular-season games in six seasons, third best in the NFL. He struggled midway through the 2021 season with Brady, but he was at his best in the final four games of the regular season and the postseason, surrendering just one sack.
Suh has spent the past two seasons on one-year deals with the Bucs, playing an integral role in their transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense and helping mentor 2018 first-round draft pick Vita Vea after the departure of Gerald McCoy.
In 2019, his first year with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Suh had 2.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries -- two of which were returned for touchdowns. Suh finished the 2020 regular season with 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 44 tackles. His 330 plays against double-teams was second only to the Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald, who was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
Bowles credited Suh for not allowing Patrick Mahomes to properly step into his throws in Super Bowl LV, during which Suh registered 1.5 sacks. Coach Bruce Arians credited Suh for the impact he has had on younger players and for helping them overcome the loss of Vea during the regular season.
Suh, who turned 34 in January, was the Detroit Lions' pick at No. 2 in the 2010 draft, has been selected to five Pro Bowls and is a three-time first-team All-Pro. In 11 seasons with the Lions, Miami Dolphins, Rams and Buccaneers, he has 64.5 sacks and 563 tackles.
The moves are the latest in what has been a busy offseason for the Bucs, who have now extended the deals of Brady and Smith, placed the franchise tag on receiver Chris Godwin and signed Suh, linebacker Shaq Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski and kicker Ryan Succop to new deals.
The Bucs likely aren't done, either. They have continued to talk to representatives for wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Leonard Fournette, and they are considering more moves to free up cap space. They also have to address their backup quarterback situation, as neither Blaine Gabbert nor Ryan Griffin are under contract for 2021.