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Chris Godwin Rumors: Some Execs Believe Knee Injury Will 'Slightly' Damage FA Market

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 22, 2021

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 12: Chris Godwin #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers adjusts his helmet prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at Raymond James Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin reportedly remains "well-positioned" to land a lucrative long-term contract as a free agent in the offseason despite suffering a torn ACL during Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday there are some NFL executives who believe the knee injury "could affect his market slightly," but there should still be plenty of interest from teams "thinking long-term."

Godwin was putting together a terrific season before the injury. He'd already recorded a new career-high number of catches (98) to go along with 1,103 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games.

The 25-year-old Penn State product played the 2021 campaign under the franchise tag, which equated to a one-year, $15.98 million contract. The tag came after he'd completed his four-year rookie deal as the Bucs' third-round pick in the 2017 draft.

While the 2019 Pro Bowl selection was set to become one of the top offensive playmakers available in the offseason, the torn ACL raised questions about whether his market could take a hit.

One NFL executive pointed to Bud Dupree as an example of the injury not causing free-agent interest to crater. The 28-year-old linebacker signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans in March after suffering a torn ACL during the 2020 season.

"Bud Dupree. All it takes is one team," the unnamed exec told Fowler.

Godwin's success in Tampa Bayโ€”342 receptions for 4,643 yards and 29 touchdowns in 72 career gamesโ€”has come despite him splitting No. 1 receiver duties with Mike Evans. The additions of Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski further split the targets over the past two years.

It creates intrigue about what type of numbers he could deliver if he lands with a team where he'll be the unquestioned No. 1 wideout.

The Buccaneers have a projected $32.3 million in cap space for 2022, per Spotrac, so they'll likely make a run at trying to re-sign Godwin, but they'll be far from alone in the pursuit.

In the meantime, Tampa will attempt to defend its Super Bowl title without him. Tyler Johnson and Breshad Perriman lead the group of receivers who could see more playing time in his absence.

The Bucs (10-4) return to action Sunday when they visit Bank of America Stadium to take on the Carolina Panthers (5-9).