The New England Patriots need to upgrade their offensive line during the 2023 NFL offseason, and an experienced left tackle has hit the open market.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released starting left tackle Donovan Smith, the team announced Tuesday. This move will save the Bucs just under $10 million in salary cap space, per Greg Auman of The Athletic.
Should the Patriots pursue Smith in free agency?
Maybe at the right price, but his best days are likely behind him. He's definitely not someone the Patriots should make a major financial commitment to sign.
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Smith was a second-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2015 and started 124 games in eight seasons with Tampa Bay. He missed just two games over his first seven seasons. He was sidelined for four games in 2022.
The 29-year-old veteran received an 83.3/100 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021. But he graded out at 59.3 in 2022 as penalties and poor run blocking hurt his performance. Penalties have always been an issue for Smith, though. In fact, his 80 penalties since 2015 are the most of any player. The Patriots offensive line struggled with penalties in 2022 as well.
A better option in free agency for the Patriots if they want to sign a tackle would be Mike McGlinchey of the San Francisco 49ers. McGlinchey would solidify the right tackle spot.
Regardless of whether the Patriots sign an offensive tackle in free agency, it's a position they must address in the 2023 NFL Draft, maybe with the No. 14 overall pick in the first round.