Chris Godwin Rumors: Bucs Want to Re-Sign 'Cornerstone' WR in 2022 NFL Free Agency

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 16, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) runs with the ball after a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
AP Photo/Jason Behnken

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will reportedly make a concerted effort to bring back wide receiver Chris Godwin, who they view as a "cornerstone" of their roster.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday the Bucs "would like to find a way to re-sign" the impending unrestricted free agent but noted quarterback play will be an important factor for Godwin, which could hurt Tampa's chances given the retirement of Tom Brady.

Godwin was putting together a tremendous season before he suffered a torn ACL in December. He'd already recorded a career-high 98 catches to go along with 1,103 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games.

The 25-year-old Penn State product has been a highly reliable producer for the Bucs since his breakout 2018 campaign, his second season after being selected in the third round of the 2017 draft. His 4,118 receiving yards over the past four seasons rank 13th in the NFL.

Tampa is at a crossroads entering the offseason, though. It built a win-now roster to surround Brady for the past two years, but his retirement combined with several key impending free agents and just $6.9 million in projected cap space (per Spotrac) create questions.

Ideally, the Buccaneers would probably like to land another proven veteran quarterback via trade—the free-agent and draft classes aren't littered with high-end QB talent—re-sign some other impact players and make another run toward the Super Bowl.

If that doesn't happen (and Brady stays retired), players such as Godwin could face a tough decision between sticking with the Bucs or moving on to potentially greener pastures.

The 2019 Pro Bowl selection told Fowler he plans to play in 2022 following the injury and is "excited" about his first chance to become a free agent.

He should have no shortage of potential suitors on the open market, though interested teams will likely want a positive update on his progression in the recovery from a serious knee injury.

Along with a lucrative, long-term contract, Godwin could seek an opportunity to become an unquestioned No. 1 receiver after basically sharing those duties with Mike Evans in Tampa over the past handful of years.

It makes him one of the key players to watch when free agency opens March 16.