The Buccaneers’ group of free agents may be the highest-profile batch on a single team since full-fledged free agency began in 1993. Chris Godwin hovers at or near the top of this list, joining Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David in a contingent that also includes Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh and Antonio Brown.
While the Bucs are hopeful they can retain all of these players, that might be unrealistic — especially if most or all of them choose to maximize their value coming off the team’s Super Bowl LV win. Godwin has earned the least amount of money among this group, having been a third-round pick on a rookie contract for the past four years.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver wants a high-end contract but sounds willing to listen to the Bucs on a slight hometown discount, should his other top-tier offers come from teams with far worse situations. Tampa Bay is understandably prioritizing Godwin, who may be the top franchise tag candidate out of this decorated contingent.
“The goal obviously is to get paid, right? But, at the same time, I’m not stupid,” Godwin said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show (via NFL.com). “I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I’m going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars. I think my happiness is paramount in all of this and part of that happiness is winning.
“Just having a bunch of different guys on the offensive side that can make your job a little bit easier but also give you the best chance to win is something that I’m strongly considering.”
Mike Evans and Scotty Miller are certain to return for Tampa Bay, but it is not yet known if this collection of skill-position talent will all be back for Tom Brady‘s age-44 season. Gronkowski may have a Bucs-or-retirement stance, and Brown wants to return as well. Fournette may not have as clear of a path back to south Florida.
If Godwin is tagged, Barrett would need to be extended before March 15 for the Bucs to avoid having their top pass rusher negotiate with other teams. With Barrett seeking a monster payday, the Bucs will have a decision to make with their sought-after 20-something free agents. The Super Bowl champs have until March 9 to determine which player they will tag.
A wideout franchise tag is expected to come in around $16MM. With Allen Robinson and Kenny Golladay also standing as tag candidates, Godwin reaching free agency would push his price north of this point.
“I think an extension would be ideal, but at the end of the day if the franchise (tag) is what happens, then that’s what I gotta do and then we’ll revisit later,” Godwin said. “I want to be in Tampa, but at the end of the day, I want to get paid too.”
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