Top Free Agent Landing Spots For OT Donovan Smith

Veteran OT Donovan Smith would probably not be penciled in as the starter for any NFL team if he signed today. That’s just the reality of being without a chair at this point in the offseason with the music winding down. Every team has a Plan A for left tackle. 

Donovan Smith

But plans change all the time, and Smith has two important things going for him as he nears the end of his career. He plays left tackle and he’s a solid enough pass protector. 

If Smith wants to play another season, those two factors alone should get him some interest from NFL teams, particularly once training camp gets underway and injuries inevitably start to thin out some of the depth charts around the league. 

Smith isn’t a needle-mover at this stage of his career and after being an iron man for seven straight years, he’s missed nine games over the past two seasons. Given he’s on the other side of 30, that will concern some teams. 

But if it comes down to having a glaring liability at left tackle or signing Smith, most teams will take their chances with the veteran. Even if he ends up being below average, the bar can always get worse at left tackle. 

Smith, 30, is a former second-round pick of the Buccaneers back in 2015 out of Penn State. He played out the final year of his four-year, $6.068 million contract before agreeing to a three-year, $41.25 million contract with the Buccaneers in 2019 that included $27 million fully guaranteed. 

He was due to make a base salary of $15.25 million in 2023 when the Buccaneers released him. Smith later signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs worth up to $9 million. 

In 2023, Smith appeared in 12 games for the Chiefs, making 12 starts for them at left tackle. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the No. 61 tackle out of 81 qualifying players.

We have him included in our Top 100 Available Free Agents list. 


Familiarity is a key factor in most free agent signings and there’s no team with more familiarity with Smith than the Buccaneers. Smith spent every year of his career except for this last one in Tampa Bay and is a known quantity for several key decision-makers. 

Smith would not be coming back as the franchise left tackle. That role fell to former first-round OT Tristan Wirfs when Smith left last year and Wirfs was miles better than any single year of Smith’s career. Where Smith could help the Buccaneers in 2024 is as a backup tackle. The depth behind Wirfs and RT Luke Goedeke is a little suspect, with Justin Skule and Brandon Walton the next two up on the depth chart. 

Few teams are flush with tackle depth and the duo of Skule/Walton is not the worst backup situation in the league, but the Buccaneers do have an opportunity to upgrade with a familiar player at a likely low cost in a year where they plan on competing for the NFC South title at minimum. Smith would insure against an injury to Wirfs and might even be able to flip sides and back up Goedeke. 


The Dolphins have a strong starting tackle duo between LT Terron Armstead and RT Austin Jackson. Behind Jackson, they re-signed veteran OT Kendall Lamm who saw a lot of action for them last year at left tackle with Armstead’s annual injury issues. Miami also used a second-round pick on OT Patrick Paul and re-signed starting G Isaiah Wynn who has 33 career starts at left tackle under his belt. 

On paper, that’s a pretty good group at tackle. However, you can pick holes in it. Armstead has never played a full season and missed seven games last year, five the year before. Going into his age-33 season, his body could continue to break down, even if he remains a top-five left tackle when he’s on the field. Lamm is better-suited to the right side and Paul is viewed as a developmental prospect who might not be ready for extended action as a rookie. 

The ideal situation for Miami is that Paul is ready and proves he’s the left tackle of the future but Smith represents a solid contingency plan. Dolphins assistant Butch Barry worked with Smith for several years in Tampa Bay so there’s a lot of familiarity between the two sides. Smith’s skills as a pass protector would make him a good fit, and while he’s not as proficient a run blocker which is a concern for how much the Dolphins run the ball, HC Mike McDaniel‘s scheme supposedly makes things easier on offensive linemen in the run game. 

The Dolphins are resetting the roster but not rebuilding. This is still a year in which Miami hopes to contend and that means they’ll be on the lookout to paper over weaknesses and not just rely on young players if they’re not ready. Paul will get the first crack at proving he can be the backup for Armstead but Smith should be on the Dolphins’ short list if they end up needing help. 


It’s not a coincidence that most of the teams expected to contend for a Super Bowl don’t have question marks at offensive tackle. The 2024 Ravens see themselves as contenders but they’re not quite as rock-solid at tackle as you’d expect. At left tackle, they brought back Ronnie Stanley on a renegotiated deal to give him one last chance to regain his pre-injury form. At right tackle, second-round rookie Roger Rosengarten will have the first crack at replacing veteran Morgan Moses who was traded to the Jets. 

Patrick Mekari is as good a backup as any in the NFL and can play all five positions up front. However, he might be needed on the interior with the Ravens turning over both starting guard spots this offseason as well. Outside of Mekari, there’s not a true backup left tackle on the roster. Smith would fill that role. Signing with Baltimore would also represent a homecoming for Smith who went to high school in Owings Mills, Maryland, which is where the Ravens have their practice facility. 


This is the last team with a real connection to Smith and it’s a brief one after he played last year in Kansas City. The Chiefs are looking to the future at left tackle right now and used a second-round pick on Kingsley Suamataia, a massive and athletically gifted prospect out of BYU who is viewed as someone who needs to refine his technique. He’s competing with 2023 third-round OT Wanya Morris who saw some time at left tackle filling in for Smith last year. 

Ideally one of those two players grabs onto the job and doesn’t let go but the Chiefs are taking a risk by entrusting such an important position to such green options — especially with their big goals of a third straight Super Bowl win. If they get into training camp and it becomes obvious Suamataia and Morris need more seasoning, a reunion with Smith could be in the cards. 


The Bills have a solid starting left tackle in Dion Dawkins and already signed veteran OT La’el Collins to give them depth behind him and RT Spencer Brown. However, Collins is not a natural left tackle. Smith would upgrade the depth behind Dawkins and be a natural fit in Buffalo’s expected pass-heavy offense. 


New Orleans has experimented with first-round OT Taliese Fuaga on the left side during OTAs but this is the time of year for teams to try things out when it’s low stakes. It would work out great for the Saints if Fuaga excelled on the left side after playing exclusively on the right side in college, and then either RT Ryan Ramczyk beats his career-threatening knee injury prognosis or former first-round OT Trevor Penning turns his career around on the right side. 

Dream scenarios don’t pan out that often in the NFL, however. If Ramczyk can’t play or is ineffective and Fuaga ends up being better-suited to the right side, the Saints’ options at left tackle are Penning, Oli Udoh, Justin Herron and Landon Young. Smith would probably be an upgrade over all four players. 


Giants LT Andrew Thomas is one of the best left tackles in football. The depth behind him is poor, however, and that was exposed last year when Thomas missed most of the season. Smith would give New York an upgrade over Josh Ezeudu, Matt Nelson Yodny Cajuste or whoever else the Giants might consider on the roster to back up Thomas. 

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