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Donovan Smith happy his extension helps with Bucs’ surge of signings

Every Super Bowl offensive and defensive starter (except one) should be under contract by next week.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with left tackle Donovan Smith (76) following the team's Super Bowl 55 triumph at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with left tackle Donovan Smith (76) following the team's Super Bowl 55 triumph at Raymond James Stadium. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 25, 2021|Updated Mar. 25, 2021

Those elaborate, viral domino effects that periodically sprout on YouTube have met their match in the figurative one pulled off by the Bucs’ front office.

Left tackle Donovan Smith is honored to be part of the ongoing spectacle, which has astounded fans and faux cap gurus for weeks.

“Not to sit there saying it was all me or anything,” the six-year veteran said Thursday, “but just to be able to be a part to keep everybody together is huge.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, Smith’s two-year contract extension — saving the Bucs significant 2021 cap space — was immediately followed Wednesday by reports that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had agreed to a one-year, $9 million extension (that could reach $10 million if incentives are met).

The Bucs formally announced Smith’s extension Thursday, and re-signed veteran backup tackle Josh Wells to a one-year deal. Later Thursday, they officially announced the re-signing of kicker Ryan Succop, with whom they agreed to a three-year, $12 million deal last week.

Once Suh’s deal is formalized, every Tampa Bay offensive and defensive starter (and the starting kicker) from Super Bowl 55 except for tailback Leonard Fournette will be under contract for 2021.

And the area’s most dazzling domino effect, which began March 9 when the team re-signed linebacker Lavonte David and put the franchise tag on receiver Chris Godwin, tumbles gloriously forward.

“It just shows you, what better place to be than in Tampa?” Smith said in a Zoom session with reporters Thursday.

“I mean, you’ve got great weather, it’s a great city. Our locker room, the facility is great. These guys, we love it here and want to be here, continue to build and go back out there and chase it again. It just shows how much (the players) love it here and (are) selfless and everything. The will to win can change a lot.”

Related: Having kept team together, Bucs can address depth in 2021 draft

Periodically maligned in his half-dozen seasons in Tampa Bay, Smith’s durability (two missed starts in six years) never has been in doubt. Moreover, he’s coming off arguably his best season.

His 2020 grade from Pro Football Focus (72.1) was the best of his career, and he was whistled for only one holding penalty in the four regular-season games following the bye week.

“His durability and leadership have been a critical part of our success,” general manager Jason Licht said in a statement announcing Smith’s extension. “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.”

The “pillars” are piling up. In addition to 21 of the Super Bowl’s 22 starters under contract, kicker Ryan Succop is back on board as well.

“We have a bunch of guys coming back who have been in the system, know the system, learned the system,” said Smith, whose 2021 cap number (as a result of his extension) will be at only $3.6 million. “You’re just going to see a bunch of guys coming, flying around, having fun, playing fast, and I think that’s the scary part about it.”

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Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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