Despite their recent skid, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ focus is on this season, but the franchise faces a big decision at wide receiver heading into 2021. The Bucs have one of the top NFL receiver duos in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans but the wideouts are in danger of a breakup.
Godwin is set to be one of the most coveted free agents this coming offseason. The Athletic’s Greg Auman believes the Buccaneers may have to make a decision between Godwin and Evans.
“The most likely outcome is Bucs franchise Godwin to bring him back for 2021,” Auman responded to a fan’s question about Godwin’s future on Twitter. “But longterm, if they feel they can’t afford to keep both Evans and Godwin, might trade one.”
Godwin is headed for a significant raise from his $2.1 million salary in 2020 as the final season of his four-year, $3.2 million rookie contract, per Spotrac.
Godwin Is One of the Top 2021 Free Agents
The star receiver is unlikely to hit the free-agent market as the Bucs have the option to put the franchise tag on Godwin to keep him under contract for another season. The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia projects that Godwin will be the highest-paid receiver if the Buccaneers do not tag him and ranked the star as the No. 2 free agent behind Dak Prescott.
“Teams in need of help at wide receiver are in luck,” Kapadia explained. “This free-agent class is loaded with them. Their order will vary depending on what organizations are looking for, but given that Godwin will be just 25 at the start of next season, he has a strong case to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the group. …He’s likely to find a monster deal if he hits free agency.”
Evans May be More Likely to be Traded Given His Contract
Evans is on the second season of a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Bucs. If Tampa opts to move on from one of the receivers, Evans makes a bit more sense given he is under contract through 2023. A trade involving Godwin would be more complicated if the Buccaneers franchise tag the receiver as teams may view him as a one-year rental which limits his potential value.
It is already well past the 2020 trade deadline so any moves would have to be done this offseason, at the earliest. The Buccaneers could also opt to keep both Godwin and Evans but would likely have to make cuts in other areas. Tampa has three of The Athletic’s top 25 free agents with Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David joining Godwin on the list.
Rumors swirled around Evans at the 2019 trade deadline, but the Buccaneers opted to keep the receiver. Tom Brady has looked Godwin’s way more consistently than Evans so far this season. Brady is on a two-year deal with the Buccaneers, and the front office has to make a decision at receiver that goes beyond their current quarterback. The Bucs would be wise to think about what is best for the long-term trajectory of the franchise, not just the short-term window with Brady.
The Buccaneers signed Antonio Brown to a one-year deal in October but his status beyond this season is uncertain. Tampa’s preference is likely to retain Evans along with Godwin, but if the team wants to keep their defense intact they face some big decisions this offseason.
According to Over the Cap, the Bucs are projected to have $25.3 million in cap space this offseason but this is only with 33 players under contract. Some of the top Buccaneers free agents like Godwin will be looking for a significant raise.