Tampa Bay Buccaneers keeping Chris Godwin on 2021 franchise tag

How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can pull off a Chris Godwin contract extension
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ensured Chris Godwin will be back in the fold for their Super Bowl repeat bid in 2021 after placing the franchise tag on him Tuesday.

Although the Bucs failed to come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension for the star receiver, Godwin will return to Tampa Bay this coming season and earn a hefty salary.

Chris Godwin back for Bucs’ back-to-back bid

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news on Godwin’s return to the defending Super Bowl champions:

Godwin was the prime candidate for the tag if the Bucs were going to use it. They tagged star pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett prior to last season, and Godwin did plenty throughout his rookie contract to earn the right to a huge contract.

For now, the multi-year is on hold. Part of that is due to how loaded Tampa Bay’s roster is, and another element is the decreased NFL salary cap that’s putting a lot of teams in tough spots to make difficult personnel decisions.

Thankfully there was a willingness for Godwin to come back on the franchise tag, as it seems both sides are intent on finding a way to make a fuller extension work in 2022.

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What Chris Godwin staying means for Buccaneers’ 2021 outlook

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When GOAT quarterback Tom Brady arrived in Tampa Bay, he was coming from a different system he’d run for two decades prior in New England and had to get acclimated to a whole change of scenery with no real offseason program to speak of.

Despite this quick turnaround into the 2020 campaign, Brady had no trouble developing a quick rapport with the sure-handed Godwin. That resulted in the latter hauling in 65 receptions on 84 targets for 840 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season.

Although some drop troubles plagued Godwin during the postseason, he came through with multiple clutch catches in helping Brady and the Bucs secure the Lombardi Trophy. The 25-year-old led Tampa Bay in postseason targets and receiving yards.

Because of how dangerous he can be in lining up in the slot and on the outside, Godwin is a nightmare for defenses to deal with, and his versatility creates favorable matchups for other pass-catchers.

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Mike Evans and Godwin may comprise the NFL’s most dangerous receiver duo, but the Bucs’ depth at the position doesn’t end there. Scotty Miller established himself as a legitimate deep threat in 2020, and rising sophomore Tyler Johnson flashed nicely in his maiden pro season.

Now, it’s a matter of whether former All-Pro Antonio Brown will return to the receiving corps. It’s scary to think how good Tampa Bay’s passing attack could be in 2021 with more time to gain chemistry, and the continuity that will carry over from this past year’s already-dynamic group.

Godwin is capable of being a legitimate No. 1 wideout, as he proved in 2019 with 86 catches, 1,333 yards and nine scores. Expect to see him hit the 1,000-yard mark again in his second year with Brady, and for the Bucs to be among the top five passing offenses again in 2021 regardless of who else stays.

Having said that, Godwin’s 2021 cap hit is going to force Tampa Bay to make some tough cuts, and not everyone is going to be able to come back, even if Brady redoes his contract as he intends to. Look for the next priority to be keeping tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught two TDs in Super Bowl LV.

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