Chris Godwin Rumors: WR's Contract a Priority for Bucs; Franchise Tag Possible

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin during NFL football practice, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. (Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers via AP)
Kyle Zedaker/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly plan on making Chris Godwin a "priority" in free agency this offseason.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter that the defending Super Bowl champs will consider a franchise tag if the two sides can't work out a long-term deal:

"I'm sorry for any sort of terrible 'be mine' joke, but the Bucs do 'heart' Chris Godwin this time of year. He is a priority for them as they try to keep the band back together to win a second Super Bowl. The franchise tag is a possibility here. It could fall anywhere from $15-$16 million on a one-year pact. The Bucs could deal with that as they try to sign some other players too, but they want him back and they believe he's a difference-maker; really a top-10 receiver league-wide."

The Bucs have several other notable players set to hit the open market. Linebackers Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, running back Leonard Fournette and wideout Antonio Brown are all free agents. It would be nearly impossible for the Bucs to bring back every notable veteran in 2021.

Coach Bruce Arians told David his "ass ain't going nowhere" at the Bucs' championship parade, and it would be a huge surprise if Gronkowski decided to abandon Tom Brady. Brown may also come at a discount given his relationship with Brady and litany of off-field issues.

The smartest bet would be on Barrett pricing himself out of Tampa, and Fournette also seems likely to find the highest bidder after a strong postseason run.

Godwin recorded 65 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020, missing four games because of injury. While his numbers paled in comparison to his breakout 2019, Godwin is a dynamic playmaker whose production dipped in large part because of the Bucs' loaded roster. Mike Evans was the only Tampa receiver to top 1,000 yards in 2020.

If Godwin winds up hitting the open market, the overwhelming odds are he'll sign a deal that makes him among the NFL's highest-paid receivers.