Chris Godwin‘s injury damaged the Buccaneers’ hopes of defending their Super Bowl title, and despite several months remaining on the versatile wideout’s rehab timetable, the team is not eager to see him hit the open market.
Bruce Arians said Tuesday the Bucs “really, really want [Godwin] back,” and while the team does not want to use its franchise tag on Godwin again, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that scenario is in play. This would represent a nice pay bump for Godwin, with a second tag being 120% of his 2021 salary. That would come out to just more than $19MM.
Tampa Bay has one more week to negotiate with Godwin before the tag deadline. If the Bucs opt to withhold their tag, they would have six more days of exclusive negotiating rights before the legal tampering period begins March 14. Tampa Bay authored one of the NFL’s signature roster-retention efforts last year, keeping its entire core. That required re-signing a few key players after the market opened. But Godwin was the team’s priority last year. His ACL tear did not diminish his value to the organization, even after Tom Brady‘s retirement.
“Knowing Chris and the way he works – he had a good surgery and those guys are coming back faster and faster now,” Arians said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all. … Chris is so valuable to what we do.”
Godwin’s injury and Antonio Brown‘s bizarre departure left Brady without a proven inside weapon in the playoffs, helping the Rams take a three-score lead in the divisional round. Despite playing in just 14 games, Godwin still produced his second 1,000-yard season. The Bucs have Mike Evans signed to a $16.5MM-per-year extension. That deal represented a top-market price when signed in 2018, but nine wideouts have since passed it. Godwin would certainly be expected to do so as well, should the Bucs ink him to a long-term extension.
Additionally, Bucs GM Jason Licht said the team is hoping to keep offensive line starters Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa, Stroud tweets. This certainly makes sense after Ali Marpet‘s surprise retirement Sunday. Jensen resides as the top free agent center, while Cappa is among the top guards set to hit the market. Jensen previously tested free agency and signed a big-ticket Bucs accord in 2018. This would be Cappa’s first time hitting the market.
Jensen will turn 31 in May, but the ex-Raven has been one of the NFL’s most durable players, having not missed a game since the start of the 2017 season. A third-round pick in 2018, Cappa did not miss a regular-season game during Brady’s two Tampa seasons, but he did miss Super Bowl LV after suffering a fractured ankle. Cappa rebounded to play all 19 Bucs games last season. The Bucs hold just more than $11MM in cap room, but space-clearing moves will be on tap — especially if the team needs to enter free agency with another Godwin tag on its payroll.