Chris Godwin may not catch a big deal in 2021, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wideout says he’s OK with that — sort of.
The Bucs appear primed to franchise tag Godwin for the 2021 season per “sources close to the situation” according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. She reported that it will cost the Bucs around $16.5 million to keep Brown. NFL teams have a March 9 deadline to tag a player.
“Yeah, I mean, the way I look at it, similar to like a lot of guys,” Godwin told MJ Acosta on “NFL Total Access” via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon on Feb. 25. “Obviously, we all want to have long-term security, we all want to be able to take care of the people that we love So, that’s the ideal situation. But, you know, a franchise tag is not something that I can control. If that’s what keeps me here, then that’s what it is. And I’ll play on it and go back to war with my guys. Like I said, I love it here in Tampa, I love what we have building and I would love to stay.”
Godwin bolstered the Bucs passing game again in 2020 when healthy with 65 receptions, 840 yards, and seven touchdowns in just 12 games played. He also caught 23 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs’ Super Bowl run.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians noted that Godwin also plays a key blocking role according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman.
"He brings so much more than just targets," Arians says of Chris Godwin, praising his blocking as "a huge part of what we do offensively … it's more than just stats."
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 24, 2021
If Godwin doesn’t get tagged, he still would have serious interest in staying with the Bucs. Playing with a winner matters, he said on the “Pat McAfee Show.”
"The goal obviously is to get paid right but I'm not stupid. I'm not going to put myself in a situation where I'm going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars"
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 23, 2021
“The goal obviously is to get paid, right, but I’m not stupid,” Godwin told McAfee. “I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I’m going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars.”
Bucs Contract Quandry
Godwin’s prowess commands a big contract as one of the top receivers potentially available in free agency this month.
The Bucs used the franchise tag on linebacker Shaquil Barrett last year. Barrett, who will also be a free agent, said after the Super Bowl that he wants to “break the bank” this time around. Tagging Barrett would break the Bucs’ bank with “a 120% raise from last year ($15.8 million) and a $19 million salary-cap hit” according to Laine.
Running back Leonard Fournette could also earn more in free agency. CBS Sports projected his market value at $8.1 million. His regular season numbers 367 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 97 carries doesn’t jump out, but his postseason turnaround does. Fournette produced one of the best playoff runs ever for a running back with 300 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 64 carries. He also caught 18 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. He received the nickname “Playoff Lenny” for his play and took it further as “Super Bowl Lenny” after the Big Game.
Tampa has multiple key players among its 25 free agents in wide receiver Antonio Brown, tight end Rob Gronkowski, kicker Ryan Succop, linebacker Lavonte David, and defensive end Ndamukong Suh. The Bucs have a projected $13.361 million to work with according to Over the Cap.