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The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly signed veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith to a one-year, $9 million contract, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Donovan Smith started 124 games over the past eight seasons with the #Bucs. After signing Jawaan Taylor to a big deal in March, Kansas City continues to invest in protecting Patrick Mahomes. https://t.co/CK4z151PD8
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Donovan Smith has played his entire career at left tackle. Jawaan Taylor has played almost exclusively right tackle. If all goes well, that’s how the #Chiefs will line up in front of reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes after Smith agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $9 million. pic.twitter.com/ys6GDhAZvK
The Chiefs have invested heavily in the offensive line over the last several years, signing tackles Smith and Jawaan Taylor (four years, $80 million) this year and guard Joe Thuney (five years, $80 million) in 2021. They also drafted center Creed Humphrey and guard Trey Smith two years ago.
The Chiefs have wisely identified that protecting two-time MVP and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is priority Nos. 1, 2 and 3. In just five seasons as the full-time starter, Mahomes has led the team to two titles, three AFC Championship Games and been a Pro Bowler five times.
Smith should help keep him upright. He’ll replace Orlando Brown Jr., who signed a four-year, $64 million deal to protect Joe Burrow in Cincinnati this offseason.
The 29-year-old has spent his entire eight-year career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missing just six starts in that time. For the past three seasons, he protected Tom Brady’s blindside, helping the Bucs reach three straight playoffs.
The move will also allow Taylor to stay on his preferred right side.
Pete Sweeney @pgsween
Wednesday night food for thought
Jawaan Taylor NFL snaps at LT: 18
Jawaan Taylor NFL snaps at RT: 4,282
Donovan Smith NFL snaps at LT: 8,473
Donovan Smith NFL snaps at RT: 0 https://t.co/Y1uZk82u0f
Matt Verderame @MattVerderame
My understanding is the Chiefs see Donovan Smith as a starter who has significant experience.
Smith has started 124 games and battled through injuries last year. The move also keeps Jawaan Taylor at his natural position on the right side
Nate Taylor @ByNateTaylor
The Chiefs are projecting Donovan Smith, who is considered fully healthy, to be a starter next season.
At this point, both options are available to the Chiefs. Smith could start at LT with Jawaan Taylor at RT — or vice versa.
Matt Derrick @mattderrick
That’s a game-changer for the Chiefs OL. Donovan Smith is an experienced LT. That allows Jawaan Taylor to stay on the right side. Lucas Niang and Wanya Morris backing them up. https://t.co/YlCnwd8UuM
The Chiefs also selected Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris with the No. 92 overall pick and have Lucas Niang and Darian Kinnard on the roster. But general manager Brett Veach indicated that Taylor was the favorite to handle the left tackle duties, at least before Smith’s signing.
“I think there’ll be a degree of mixing and matching,” he told reporters on Monday regarding the offensive line. “I’m sure it’s safe to say that as we sit here today, Taylor will be able to go out there and [play] left tackle with the [first team].”
Smith likely will change that calculus and keep Taylor on the right side.
Last season, Smith gave up 35 pressures and six sacks across 661 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (h/t Pete Sweeney of Arrowhead Pride), battling through an elbow injury. The Chiefs will hope he can fill in at left tackle in the absence of Brown.