Chris Godwin

Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin Not Opposed To Franchise Tag

Chris Godwin should be among the best free agent wideouts this offseason, but a franchise tag would prevent the Buccaneers receiver from truly testing his market. While the franchise tag often leads to hostility between teams and their star players, it doesn’t sound like Godwin is all that concerned about that route.

“Yeah, I mean, the way I look at it, similar to like a lot of guys,” Godwin said to MJ Acosta of NFL.com (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “Obviously, we all want to have long-term security; we all want to be able to take care of the people that we love. So that’s the ideal situation. But, you know, a franchise tag is not something that I can control. If that’s what keeps me here, then that’s what it is. And I’ll play on it and go back to war with my guys. Like I said, I love it here in in Tampa. I love what we have building, and I would love to stay.”

If the Buccaneers do ultimately slap Godwin with the franchise tag, he’ll still see a considerable pay raise from his 2020 salary. After making $4.65MM in the final year of his rookie pact, he’d earn more than $16MM via the wide receiver franchise tag in 2021.

Godwin also discussed his impending free agency earlier this week. While he noted that the “goal obviously is to get paid,” he also acknowledged that he doesn’t want to put himself in a situation where he’s miserable.

The former third-rounder was a revelation in 2019, finishing the season with 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns, leading to his first Pro Bowl nod. Despite Tom Brady passing him the ball in 2020, a reloaded offense resulted in decreased numbers for Godwin this past season. The 24-year-old ultimately finished the campaign with 65 catches for 840 yards and seven scores in 12 games. In four playoff games, Godwin caught another 16 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown.

The Buccaneers certainly aren’t strangers to the franchise tag; they used the tag on Shaquil Barrett last offseason. Instead of tagging Godwin, there’s a chance the organization could slap Barrett for a second-straight season, as Williams notes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Buccaneers, Chris Godwin

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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Expected To Retain WR Chris Godwin

There are a number of quality wide receivers slated for free agency next month, but it sounds like the Bucs will keep one of them off the market. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Tampa is expected to engage Chris Godwin in talks on a long-term contract before the March 9 deadline for applying the franchise tag, and if those talks do not result in a deal, it sounds as if the team is prepared to use the tag on the Pro Bowl wideout (Twitter link).

We heard last April that the Bucs were eyeing an extension for Godwin, but it’s unclear how far those negotiations advanced. Between the lack of a new contract and the fact that Tampa has a number of other key free agents to make decisions on, there was some speculation that Godwin would be playing elsewhere in 2021. But it sounds as if that won’t be the case.

This season, Godwin did not quite return to the Pro Bowl form he displayed in 2019, but he was quite effective just the same. Although his 12.9 yards-per-reception mark was a career-low, that is largely attributable to the fact that the team transitioned from Jameis Winston to Tom Brady at quarterback. Godwin’s catch rate increased to a career-best 77.4%, and had he played in all 16 games — he missed four contests due to injury — he was on pace to eclipse 1,100 receiving yards. He also scored seven TDs.

Based on the expected salary cap of $180.5MM, the franchise tag number for Godwin would be $15.808MM (h/t Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com on Twitter). Godwin can probably do better than that on a long-term contract, as the top 12 wide receiver deals in the league feature AAVs of at least $16.2MM, but it’s a fair starting point in contract talks.

The Bucs are also interested in bringing back Antonio Brown, and while Rapoport says tight end Rob Gronkowski plans to take a few weeks to make a retirement decision, he will only play for Tampa if he chooses to return in 2021. Keeping the band together for what could be the final season of Brady’s career makes plenty of sense, though it could mean that a defensive free agent like Shaquil Barrett or Lavonte David will be squeezed out of the picture.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Thomas, McCaffrey

Not that much doubt existed as to why Antonio Brown is in Tampa, but the Buccaneers indeed reversed course on the volatile wide receiver because Tom Brady pushed for the signing, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes. Brown is living with Brady, who insisted to Buccaneers brass he would work with the former All-Pro daily to ensure he does not become a problem for the organization.

Brady told them he is going to make sure this is not a problem,” a source with knowledge of this process told La Canfora. “He guaranteed BA (Bruce Arians) that he would make sure this guy did everything he has to do, even if Brady has to drive him there himself. And (the Bucs) made it clear to Brady that Brown is on a very short leash. If he (slips up), he’s gone.”

Brown went from potential first-ballot Hall of Famer to the epicenter of numerous controversies last year, but Brady expressed disappointment the Patriots released him after one game. Arians said in March that Brown would not be a fit with the Bucs. They activated him this week; Brown will debut for a third team Sunday against the Saints.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Staying on the subject of availability for the biggest game in the history of the Saints-Bucs series, Michael Thomas is finally on track to return to action. The All-Pro wide receiver, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury against the Bucs in Week 1, is on track to be back in action Sunday night, Dianna Russini of ESPN.com tweets. Thomas has missed six games due to ankle and hamstring injuries and for striking a teammate. Emmanuel Sanders also practiced Friday, putting the veteran No. 2 wideout in line to play Sunday. Sanders missed two games after contracting the coronavirus.
  • In this suddenly intergalactic matchup of receiving corps, Chris Godwin will be back as well. Arians said Friday the fourth-year target will be back after undergoing surgery on a broken finger. Godwin has missed time due to three separate issues this season, and given that doctors told him he would face a four- to six-week recovery timetable — per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter — his return will be worth monitoring. Doctors inserting pins into Godwin’s damaged index finger opened the door for him to miss just one game, Schefter adds.
  • Keeping with the “return to action” theme here, Christian McCaffrey‘s six-week hiatus is expected to end. The All-Pro Panthers back will be activated ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, per Matt Rhule. McCaffrey has been sidelined since Week 2 because of a high ankle sprain.
  • Calvin Ridley is battling a mid-foot sprain, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link), and is questionable to face the Broncos on Sunday. Ridley left the Falcons’ Week 8 win with the foot malady.

South Notes: Texans, Titans, Bucs, Terrell

Bill O’Brien‘s final weeks with the Texans were trying, with the team going 0-4 and the former head coach-GM’s near-universally panned DeAndre Hopkins trade benefitting the Cardinals early. But the since-fired HC also was involved in some internal turmoil, with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reporting O’Brien engaged in heated disputes with J.J. Watt and first-year defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver at a recent practice (Twitter link). O’Brien also verbally sparred with other staffers in his final weeks, per Wilson. That can be expected given the Texans’ start, but the Watt argument may have been a tipping point. The dispute with Watt — arguably the defining player in Texans history — resulted in O’Brien losing the team, in the view of one source (via ESPN.com’s Dianna Russini). The O’Brien-Watt argument took place days before the Texans’ loss to the Steelers.

Here is the latest from the South divisions, moving first to more Titans news:

  • At least three separate Titans offsite workouts took place last week over a multiday period, veteran NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky notes. A group that included Ryan Tannehill was spotted working out Sept. 30 at Montgomery Bell Academy, an area high school, while Kuharsky reports a different group — comprised of defensive backs — worked out at a park near Belmont University that day. Multiple workouts took place at the park near Belmont, per Kuharsky, who adds that Mike Vrabel said during an Oct. 1 Zoom call he told players not to conduct offsite workouts. The NFL is now investigating the Titans for this, and punishment for the coronavirus-stricken team could be severe. Tight end MyCole Pruitt, one of the Titans’ positive testers, was not at the offsite workouts, per Titaninsider.com’s Terry McCormick (on Twitter).
  • Prior to the Titans being barred from their headquarters, the NFL showed images of players and staffers walking around the team’s facility without masks, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Aside from players during workouts, team personnel are required to wear masks inside team facilities. Twenty-three Titans players and staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Good news for the Falcons on the virus front. First-round cornerback A.J. Terrell returned to practice this week, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Terrell missed Atlanta’s past two games after being placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list just before the Falcons’ Week 3 game.
  • For the sect of non-Chris Godwin fantasy managers who might have missed this (and the narrower swath of LeSean McCoy deep-league GMs), both Buccaneers will miss Thursday night’s game against the Bears. The Bucs declared Godwin and Shady out. This marks Godwin’s third missed game this season; he is battling a hamstring injury. Mike Evans, however, will play, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Evans was a game-time decision because of an ankle injury.
  • Eli Apple is set to miss more time. After successfully rehabbing one hamstring injury, the Panthers cornerback has encountered another. Matt Rhule said the recent acquisition pulled his other hamstring, per Joe Person of The Athletic (on Twitter). Apple missed Carolina’s first three games because of his initial hamstring injury. He has played just six snaps (all on special teams) this season.

O.J. Howard Has Torn Achilles

The Buccaneers pulled off an impressive comeback to beat the Chargers on Sunday, but they didn’t escape unscathed. Tight end O.J. Howard suffered a torn achilles and will be done for the year, head coach Bruce Arians announced after the game. As expected, the Bucs will place Howard on season-ending injured reserve, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

It’s a brutal blow for a Bucs offense that is already banged up. Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin both didn’t play Sunday, and Arians said he doesn’t expect Godwin to play in Week 5 either. Howard was starting to develop a real rapport for Brady, and he had 50 yards and a touchdown against Los Angeles before going down. The 19th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Howard had his fifth-year option exercised by the team back in April.

Fortunately for him that option year is guaranteed for injury and since he likely won’t be healthy by the start of next league year, he should be locked into that $6MM salary. The Alabama product has been solid through his first few years, but never really broke out with Jameis Winston.

His best year was in 2018 when he had 565 yards and five touchdowns in only ten games. Last year he took a bit of a step back, with 459 yards and only one score in 14 games. With Howard on the shelf Rob Gronkowski, who hasn’t had a huge role in the passing game, should see an increase in targets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Godwin, Titans, Texans, Jaguars

With the Titans dominating NFL newscycles this week, here is the latest from their division and an update on one of the NFC South’s best players.

  • Chris Godwin‘s latest injury-induced absence may well extend beyond Sunday. The Buccaneers wide receiver will miss Week 4 with a mild hamstring pull, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Because the Bucs face the Bears on Thursday to kick off Week 5, the team may be hard-pressed to have Godwin avoid missing two games. Godwin missed Tampa Bay’s Week 2 game because of a concussion. Coming into his contract year, Godwin had only missed two career games.
  • The shoulder injury Taylor Lewan suffered against the Vikings last week is not considered serious, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. He was iffy to face the Steelers, prior to the game’s postponement, so odds are certainly better the longtime Titans left tackle would be ready to play against the Bills next weekend.
  • Should the Titans be cleared to resume their season against the Bills in Week 5, they will need to bring in another long snapper. The team will not use starting center Ben Jones as its specialty snapper, Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com tweets. Beau Brinkley, Tennessee’s long snapper in every game since his 2012 rookie season, is currently on the Titans’ reserve/COVID-19 list.
  • The Seahawks will have Shaquem Griffin in uniform for the second straight week, despite not carrying the linebacker over to its Week 1 roster out of training camp. A Seahawks regular in 2018-19, Griffin began the season on the team’s practice squad. But at least three other teams, including the Texans, expressed interest in the inspirational defender. Griffin, however, did not believe a move elsewhere would have presented a better situation, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Shaquem Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, being a longtime Seahawk factored into this decision, Shaquem said (Twitter link).
  • The Jaguars did some reshuffling in their scouting department recently. They promoted DeJuan Polk to director of pro personnel and named Chris Driggers as their pro scouting director, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Driggers has been with the Jags since the franchise’s inception, actually joining in 1994 — a year before the team began playing games — and has worked in a scouting capacity for the past 23 years. Polk was hired as the Jags’ assistant pro personnel director in 2016.

NFC Rumors: Adams, 49ers, Godwin, Penny

George Kittle played through an injury last season, earning Pro Bowl honors despite dealing with a labrum tear. Just prior to Sunday’s Jets game, the 49ers tight end — who suffered an MCL sprain in Week 1 — was believed to be on track to return in Week 3, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. But considering the injury issues the 49ers had on the MetLife Stadium turf, which caused gripes from several San Francisco players, this might not still be the case. Kyle Shanahan said he will take the field conditions — when the 49ers return to MetLife to play the Giants — into account when determining Kittle’s Week 3 availability, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan.

Let’s take a look at the latest from the NFC, including news on a few more Pro Bowlers’ respective Week 3 statuses:

  • The 49ers will be down to just three first-round defensive linemen against the Giants. After losing Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas for the season, the 49ers ruled out Dee Ford for a second straight week. Ford, who has suffered a litany of maladies since being traded to San Francisco, has no return timetable, according to Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The seventh-year defensive end is currently down with a neck injury, but Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes this has morphed into a back problem (subscription required). Ziggy Ansah serves as the third ex-first-rounder, having signed with the 49ers this week.
  • The Packers appear to have ruled out a long-term absence for top wideout Davante Adams. The standout receiver’s hamstring injury is considered minor, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Adams is not a lock to face the Saints in Week 3, however. Matt LaFleur halted Adams from returning to action Sunday and may play the long game with Aaron Rodgers‘ top weapon.
  • Good news for the Buccaneers. Chris Godwin figures to be back in uniform Sunday against the Broncos. The Pro Bowl wide receiver cleared the team’s concussion protocol early this week.
  • Pete Carroll indicated Rashaad Penny is ahead of schedule in his ACL rehab, via Brandon Gustafson of 710 AM ESPN Radio Seattle, predicting the third-year running back may well beat a perceived midseason return window. The longtime Seahawks coach, however, generally leans toward optimism regarding his players’ recoveries. That should probably be factored into this assessment. Penny resides on Seattle’s PUP list and cannot make his 2020 debut until at least Week 7. With Chris Carson in a contract year and Carlos Hyde on a one-year deal, how Penny performs in his return from injury figures to be pivotal for the Seahawks’ long-term running back plan.
  • Down Tevin Coleman and likely to be without Raheem Mostert in Week 3, the 49ers brought in three running backs for a Tuesday workout. Paul Perkins, Karan Higdon and Austin Walter are auditioning for the 49ers, Pelissero notes (on Twitter). Perkins was a former Giants fifth-round pick but has not eclipsed 100 rushing yards in a season since 2016.

NFC Notes: Hunter, Ertz, Godwin, Lee, Packers

When Danielle Hunter signed his Vikings extension in the summer of 2018 — a five-year, $72MM pact — most viewed it as a team-friendly agreement. With Khalil Mack soon raising the edge rusher price ceiling to $23.5MM per year, Hunter’s contract quickly became a bargain for the Vikings. On average, Hunter’s $14.4MM-per-year price now ranks 17th among edge defenders. Zero-time Pro Bowlers like Dante Fowler and Arik Armstead signed for more than Hunter makes this offseason. Perhaps unsurprisingly, whispers have emerged that the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end is unhappy with his contract, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (Insider link). Hunter has three 12-plus-sack seasons and has recorded 14.5 in each of the past two. While Fowler expects the Vikings to address the issue at some point, they have him under team control through 2023. The 25-year-old defensive end is currently on Minnesota’s IR list.

Here is the latest from the NFC, shifting first to another contract issue:

  • Zach Ertz‘s Eagles situation certainly became one to monitor, with the Pro Bowl tight end voicing his frustrations about his future with the franchise and reportedly engaging in a heated discussion with GM Howie Roseman. The changing tight end marketplace, as could be expected, has impacted Ertz’s extension discussions. The deals the 49ers and Chiefs respectively gave George Kittle and Travis Kelce complicated the Eagles’ Ertz talks, forcing them to stall, Fowler adds. Ertz is under contract through 2021, but his $8.5MM-per-year deal is now well out of step with the top of the market. Kelce and Kittle recently signed for more than $14MM annually.
  • Sean Lee‘s latest injury moved him to the Cowboys‘ IR list, and he may be there for a while. Teams can move players from IR back to active rosters after three weeks this season, but the sports hernia surgery the injury-prone linebacker underwent is expected to shelve him for at least six weeks, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. The Cowboys are down Lee and Leighton Vander Esch, after what turned out to be a rough opening week for the team. Vander Esch, whom Lee replaced in a three-down role alongside Jaylon Smith late last season, is expected to miss more than six weeks as well. Joe Thomas is set to team with Smith as a three-down player against the Falcons.
  • The Buccaneers have downgraded Chris Godwin from doubtful to out for their Week 2 game against the Panthers. Godwin developed concussion-like symptoms midweek and remains in the team’s protocol.
  • A groin injury Kenny Clark suffered in Week 1 will sideline him for the Packers‘ Week 2 tilt against the Lions. Clark left last week’s game, leaving Green Bay without its top defensive lineman for the time being.

WR Notes: Godwin, Lions, Broncos, Bateman

A bevy of wide receiver news has surfaced Friday, with several key weapons either out or likely to be shelved for Week 2. Here is the latest from the wideout ranks:

  • The Buccaneers have given Chris Godwin a doubtful designation. The contract-year wide receiver displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday, after absorbing a late-game hit in last week’s loss to the Saints, and remains in Tampa Bay’s protocol. Godwin has missed just two career games.
  • For a second straight week, the Lions will be without Kenny Golladay. Joining Godwin as a contract-year standout on the verge of a big payday, Golladay will miss another game because of a hamstring malady.
  • The Broncos will have their first- and second-round picks together in game action this week, with K.J. Hamler set to join Jerry Jeudy. Vic Fangio said Hamler will play. The second-rounder sustained a hamstring injury during training camp. Denver may have to wait for any Jeudy-Hamler-Courtland Sutton formations, however, with the Broncos’ No. 1 target remaining questionable with a sprained AC joint.
  • During Week 1, DeVante Parker aggravated a hamstring issue he initially encountered during training camp. The Dolphins‘ No. 1 target is questionable to play Sunday.
  • The Texans worked out Devin Smith this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The Cowboys cut Smith, a former Jets second-round pick, as they trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now 28, Smith has just 15 career receptions since being a coveted prospect in 2015.
  • An interesting situation has emerged at the University of Minnesota, one of several Big Ten teams who saw an impact talent opt out and declare for the 2021 draft. First-round wide receiver prospect Rashod Bateman opted out this summer, but the high-end target is angling to return now. Bateman is back on campus but has signed with an agent, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Due to the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created — particularly in the Big Ten, which announced an October restart this week — the Golden Gophers are attempting to secure a waiver from the NCAA to allow Bateman to play.