Chris Godwin

Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin Signs Tender

No surprise here. On Thursday, Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin signed his franchise tender (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter).

Godwin is now set to earn $15.9MM in 2021, though the two sides have until mid-July to work out a long-term deal. There’s mutual interest in a multi-year arrangement, though the Buccaneers have already committed significant dollars to top players in 2022 and beyond. It might be tough, but the Bucs clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to clever accounting.

Godwin, a former third-round pick, broke out in 2019 with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl nod. The stage was set for an even bigger year in 2020 — especially with Tom Brady on board — but he was eclipsed somewhat by Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. Still, he finished with 65 catches for 840 yards and seven scores in 12 games, plus 16/232/1 in the playoffs.

Godwin was one of nine players to receive the tag this year, putting him in the same camp as Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, and Bears receiver Allen Robinson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Sets $182.5MM Salary Cap

The NFL salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). This marks a sizable (though expected) drop from last year’s $198.2MM limit.

Teams will not be allowed to borrow cap room from future years, per the CBA, so teams are basically stuck with the hard cap and difficult choices ahead. However, teams do have other ways to navigate the cap, including rollover from 2020, post-June 1 cuts, and contract restructuring.

With the new salary cap, the league has also determined the values of this year’s franchise tag tenders (Twitter link):

  • Quarterback $25.104MM
  • Running Back $8.655MM
  • Tight End $9.601MM
  • Offensive Lineman $13.754MM
  • Defensive End $16.069MM
  • Defensive Tackle $13.888M
  • Linebacker $14.791M
  • Cornerback $15.06MM
  • Kicker/Punter $4.482MM

Here’s the full rundown of this year’s franchise tags, including players on repeat tags who receive a 20% increase:

Buccaneers Franchise Tag Chris Godwin

Chris Godwin isn’t going anywhere. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers assigned the franchise tag to the standout wide receiver, yanking him from the open market. 

Godwin will get a considerable pay raise, going from $4.65MM in the final year of his rookie contract to $16MM+. The tag is likely being deployed as a placeholder for a multi-year deal and will allow the two sides to negotiate between now and the middle of July. Players often bristle at the franchise tag, but Godwin is an exception.

“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.”

Godwin, a former third-round pick, broke out in 2019 with 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl nod. The stage was set for an even bigger year in 2020 — especially with Tom Brady on board — but he was also joined by a cavalcade of new stars, including Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. The 24-year-old ultimately finished with 65 catches for 840 yards and seven scores in 12 games. In four postseason contests, Godwin added another 16 grabs for 232 yards and one TD.

Godwin wasn’t the Buccaneers’ only candidate for the tag. Teams can only cuff one player per offseason, which means that edge rusher Shaq Barrett and inside linebacker Lavonte David are now scheduled to be free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.