New deal means Mike Smith with Bucs for 'next couple years'
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a multi-year contract with the Bucs and said for the next couple years he will forgo pursuing head coaching jobs to remain in Tampa Bay.
Terms of the new contract were not released. But locking up Smith for several years could be big for the Bucs since the former Falcons head coach figured to be in the mix every off-season for a head coaching job.
Smith, 57, interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Jaguars and Chargers. On Thursday morning, he withdrew his name from consideration with the Chargers job, which went to Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn.
"While I did have a chance to speak with a few organizations about their head coaching opportunities earlier this off-season, it became very clear to me that I’m in an ideal situation here with the Buccaneers," Smith said in a statement released by the team. "For the next couple years, I am fully committed and focused on my role with Dirk (Koetter) and the organization and will not be pursuing head coaching opportunities during this time."
Koetter, who hired Smith last January, was happy to see Smith remain to help build on the Bucs 9-7 season in 2016. "Mike Smith is simply one of the best coaches I have had the opportunity to work wiith an I’m thrilled to know that he is committed to remain with us for the foreseeable future," Koetter said. "In addition to being a great teacher on the field and in the meeting rooms, Mike has consistently been able to get the most out of his players and that was never more evident than this past season. The growth and exceptional play of our defense in the second half of the season played a major factor in our success and Mike, along with the rest of the defensive staff, deserves much of that credit."
Smith led a defense that ranked 23rd overall in total defense this season, but 15th in points allowed while showing a huge improvement the final eight games. The Bucs ranked third in the league in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries.
The Bucs also were ranked first in the league in third down defense as opponents only converted 34.4 percent of their opportunities, improving from 30th in 2015.
"I’m excited what we’re building here in Tampa Bay," Smith said. "I think we grew quite a bit as a defense this past season and I look forward to working with my staff and our players to continue building upon what we have started."