1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs’ Ryan Smith suspended for performance enhancers

The cornerback earns a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith (29) warms up before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the San Francisco 49ers on November 25, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Fla. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith (29) warms up before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the San Francisco 49ers on November 25, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Fla. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Jul. 10, 2019
Updated Jul. 10, 2019

The NFL suspended Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith four games without pay for violating the performance-enhancing substances policy, the league announced Wednesday.

The suspension is costly for Smith, a player who lost his starting role a season ago and has been supplanted on the depth chart by incoming rookies. The Bucs took a trio of defensive backs — Sean Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards — in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft.

Smith, 25, who will lose a quarter of his $2.025 million salary this season, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Tampa Bay, however, can release him at any time before the start of this season and not owe him anything. If the Bucs cut Smith, they would be free to spend almost all of the money they had set aside for him. They would incur a charge of only $148,040 against their salary cap, according to Over The Cap.

Smith may remain with the team for offseason and preseason activities through the final preseason game, an Aug. 29 matchup with the Cowboys.

“We are disappointed that Ryan will be unavailable for the first four games of the season,” general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “We do extensive training and education for our players regarding the league’s policies, but ultimately each individual is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”

The first week of regular-season eligibility for Smith, a product of North Carolina Central, will be Week 5, an NFC South clash with the Saints in New Orleans.

Tampa Bay took Smith in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. In three seasons with the Bucs, Smith has appeared in 45 out of 48 regular-season games, making 16 starts. After a rookie season in which he recorded only one tackle in 14 games, Smith took on a more significant role in his sophomore campaign.

Smith appeared in 15 games and made 10 starts in 2017. After starting the first two games of the 2018 season, his playing time diminished. He started in a Week 6 loss at Atlanta, then did not start again until Week 13. He appeared in all 16 games in 2018.

Quarterbacks earned a 109.8 passer rating on throws into Smith’s coverage last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed a 63.2 completion percentage and four touchdowns. He intercepted one pass, in the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay’s Week 12 win over San Francisco.

Now with significant playing time in question, Smith lands on the roster bubble as the team prepares for its 2019 season. Training camp starts July 26.

Times staff writer Thomas Bassinger contributed to this report.


  1. East quarterback James Morgan, of Florida International University, (12) during the first half of the East West Shrine football game Saturday. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Morgan, who leads his East team to a pair of touchdowns, raises his draft stock as do a few others the Bucs should keep an eye on.
  2. Jason Garrett had success against the Giants as Cowboys coach. Now he will face Dallas as New York's new offensive coordinator. [RON JENKINS  |  AP]
    The recently fired Dallas Cowboys coach stays in the NFC East.
  3. Steve Young was a supplemental draft pick of the Bucs in 1984 and started 19 games for Tampa Bay in 1985 and 1986 before he was traded to the 49ers for a pair of draft picks in 1987. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS [Tampa Bay Times]
    The Hall of Fame quarterback played two seasons with Tampa Bay before winning a Super Bowl with the 49ers
  4. A Super Bowl matchup involving former Buccaneers great John Lynch, left, and the San Francisco 49ers and Ryan Tannehill, right, and the Tennessee Titans could be tough to stomach for Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. [Associated Press/DIRK SHADD | Times]
    Rick Stroud | For a lot of reasons, including gifting wins to both teams and GMs who got away, this would be a bad match up for Tampa Bay.
  5. Miami LB Shaquille Quarterman (55) during drills for the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Monday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    “They don’t yet have the mentality of a Miami Hurricane,” the linebacker says during the days leading up to the East-West Shrine Game.
  6. Todd Monken spent two seasons in Tampa Bay, the last as offensive coordinator, before being dismissed along with the rest of head coach Dirk Koetter's staff after the 2018 season.
    Tampa Bay’s former play-caller will be designing game plans for the Bulldogs against the Florida Gators next season.
  7. San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 11. [TONY AVELAR  |  AP]
    The former Bucs and Broncos safety has his team one win from the Super Bowl.
  8. Florida receiver Josh Hammond (18) on the field during practice for the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Monday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Plus Plant High product Jake Fruhmorgen’s journey from Clemson to UF to Baylor to the East-West Shrine Game.
  9. Memphis linebacker Bryce Huff gets fired up after a play during a game against SMU at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. [KYLE OKITA  |]
    Plus more East-West Shrine Game nuggets, including former Navy star quarterback Malcolm Perry practicing at receiver
  10. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston reportedly would be unhappy with a franchise tag of about $27 million on a one-year deal. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The fifth-year starter reportedly wants as much as $30 million per year and would not be keen on a franchise player tag.