Chris Godwin

Buccaneers To Sign WR Julio Jones

Although the Buccaneers have two Pro Bowl wide receivers and gave former Falcon Russell Gage a $10MM-per-year deal this offseason, they are not stopping here at wide receiver. A rather notable ex-Gage teammate is coming to Tampa.

The Bucs reached a one-year agreement with Julio Jones on Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. He will team with Gage, his Atlanta teammate of three seasons, along with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in what will be another decorated Tampa Bay receiver stable. Jones committed to the Bucs for $6MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deal can be worth up to $8MM.

This news comes shortly after Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times noted Godwin will not start camp on the Bucs’ active/PUP list (Twitter link). It would certainly have been understandable if Godwin, who suffered a torn ACL in December and underwent surgery Jan. 3, eased into camp work. But the former Pro Bowler will not require a roster move to begin practice. Coupled with the Jones addition, the Bucs will have one of the most accomplished wideout groups in modern NFL history.

While Tampa Bay signing an All-Decade wideout to pair with Tom Brady is not exactly new, given the team’s multiyear partnership with Antonio Brown, Jones brings none of the off-field baggage Brown does. That said, Brown displayed a higher performance level than Jones last season. Jones has seen hamstring trouble sidetrack his career, leading to an absence-laden Titans season and a several-month free agency stay — after Tennessee made the 2021 trade acquisition a cap casualty in March. The Bucs will still take a flier on the player who ripped off the most prolific six-year stretch by a receiver in NFL history.

Jones’ 9,388 receiving yards from 2014-19 are the most in a six-season span ever, but in the 2020s, the former perennial Pro Bowler has missed 14 games. Most of those absences came because of hamstring trouble. Jones’ hamstring issues led him to Tennessee’s IR list in 2021, a season in which he finished with 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown. Those were easily career-worst totals for the future Hall of Famer, but the Bucs will attempt to coax a bounce-back effort in Jones’ age-33 season.

The Bucs are making this signing despite rostering Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, 2021 fourth-round pick Jaelon Darden and 2020 fifth-round pick Tyler Johnson as well. Miller’s rookie-contract contributions notwithstanding, he is not a lock to make Tampa Bay’s roster. The same can probably be said for Jones, who will need to show — at least during camp and the preseason — he can submit a stretch of healthy work to be part of this talented receiving corps. Jones staying healthy during the preseason should all but assure him a spot on this roster.

Buccaneers Sign WR Chris Godwin To Three-Year Extension

Chris Godwin and the Buccaneers have agreed to a long-term deal. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Buccaneers are signing their star receiver to a three-year $60MM deal. The contract includes $40MM in guaranteed money due at signing.

The Buccaneers had to slap the franchise tag on Godwin when the two sides couldn’t agree to an extension by the tag deadline, but there was always optimism that the two sides would eventually agree to a long-term deal. We’ve heard in recent weeks that the two sides were continuing to work towards a new contract.

The franchise tag’s value would have been at $19.2MM, so Godwin ended up passing that total with his AAV. Tampa Bay got to clear up some much-needed space via the multiyear deal; ESPN’s Jenna Laine tweets that Godwin’s first-year cap hit is only $5MM, so the Bucs carved $14MM off their 2022 cap. If the contract looks familiar, it’s actually the exact same terms that Mike Williams got on his new deal with the Chargers.

A third rounder in 2017, Godwin has certainly outperformed his draft status during his time in Tampa Bay. His 2019 Pro Bowl season showcased his ability even without a quarterback the caliber of Tom Brady in the picture. His 2021 season with the future Hall of Famer (98 catches, 1,103 yards, five touchdowns) confirmed his talent level.

Brady is sticking around in 2022, and the Buccaneers offense looks as loaded as ever. Godwin and fellow top wideout Mike Evans will both be back, and Russell Gage was brought in to replace Antonio Brown on the depth chart. The team also re-signed veteran WR Breshad Perriman. We’ll still have to see whether Rob Gronkowski or any of the Buccaneers RBs return (Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Giovani Bernard are all FAs), but Brady’s main targets will be sticking around Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future.

Buccaneers Rework Vita Vea’s Contract

The restructures keep coming, and this time it’s the Buccaneers opening up a chunk of cap. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the Buccaneers have restructured the contract of nose tackle Vita Vea.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Place Franchise Tag On Chris Godwin]

Specifically, the team restructured the veteran’s base salary, opening up $7.64MM worth of cap space. Greg Auman of The Athletic has more details (via Twitter), noting that the organization reduced Vea’s salary from $10.6MM to $1.12MM, leading to the player getting a $9.46MM bonus.

The Buccaneers barely had any breathing room over the cap heading into the offseason, and that was before they slapped wideout Chris Godwin with the franchise tag. The team will surely have more cap-saving transactions, but they’ll still be hard pressed to afford all of their impending free agents, a group that includes Carlton Davis.

Vea has spent his entire four-year career in Tampa Bay, and the former first-round pick signed a four-year, $73MM extension with the Buccaneers back in January. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2021 after finishing with 33 tackles, four sacks, and 12 QB hits.

Buccaneers Place Franchise Tag On Chris Godwin

It seems a new pact won’t be forthcoming for Chris Godwin today, at least. The team has indeed placed the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Bucs, Godwin Still In Talks]

Negotiations for a long-term deal are ongoing between the team and player. However, it was widely expected that Tampa Bay wouldn’t hesitate to tag the 26-year-old to buy time for a new contract. The two sides now have until mid-July to agree on terms.

A third rounder in 2017, Godwin has certainly outperformed his draft status during his time in Tampa Bay. His 2019 Pro Bowl season showcased his ability even without a quarterback the caliber of Tom Brady in the picture. His 2021 season with the future Hall of Famer (98 catches, 1,103 yards, five touchdowns) confirmed his talent level.

If he remains on the tag, Godwin will earn $19.2MM. Still, a deal could be coming “in the next few days” according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine (Twitter link). Godwin has clearly been made the team’s top offseason priority, which is understandable given his age and production. On the other hand, his ACL tear suffered late in the season could be the source of trepidation from Tampa’s perspective.

With Godwin on the books for at least one more season, this increases the likelihood that Carlton Davis reaches free agency. Greg Auman of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that the Bucs could still ink him to a new deal, though he will presumably have other suitors.

Buccaneers, Chris Godwin Still In Talks

The Buccaneers and Chris Godwin are still working on a long-term deal, according to a source who spoke with Tyler Dragon of USA Today (Twitter link). If no deal is reached, however, the Bucs are prepared to franchise tag the star wide receiver before today’s 4pm ET/3pm CT deadline.

[RELATED: Bucs Hope To Re-Sign Jensen, Cappa] 

That would mark a second consecutive tag for Godwin, so he would be in line for a 20% bump over last year’s rate. For most of the year, Godwin was trending towards a top-of-the-market multi-year deal, but that all changed when he suffered a torn ACL. Instead of a long commitment, the Bucs may prefer to see how Godwin bounces back in 2022, at a rate of $19MM+. On the plus side for Godwin, the tag would be fully guaranteed.

Godwin, 26, saw his season end in Week 15. Still, he turned in yet another 1,000-yard season — 98 catches for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. Despite the setback, his camp is (understandably) making the case for long-term security. The Bucs may be flexible on that front, too, especially with an additional $26MM added to the NFL’s cap max.

Meanwhile, the Bucs are also hoping to keep offensive line starters Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa. Both players are extra crucial for Tampa Bay following Ali Marpet‘s retirement — Jensen profiles as the best center in this year’s free agency class while Cappa is among the very best available guards.

Buccaneers Expected To Tag Chris Godwin

Chris Godwin is expected to soon join the fairly exclusive club of players to have been franchise-tagged twice. Barring a long-term deal coming together over the next several hours, the Bucs plan to tag the free agent-to-be, USA Today’s Tyler Dragon tweets.

Teams have until 3pm CT Tuesday to use their tags. This has been the Bucs’ Godwin path for a bit, with both Bruce Arians and Jason Licht indicating Godwin’s importance to their offense. Because he was tagged in 2021, the five-year veteran wideout would earn just more than $19MM once he is re-tagged. Once Godwin signs the tender, that amount is fully guaranteed.

This would be a decent consolation for Godwin, who is rehabbing a torn ACL. That said, the tag system interfered with the former third-round pick signing a big-ticket free agency accord before that tear occurred. The Bucs and Godwin were unable to reach an extension agreement by last July’s deadline. They would have until July 15 of this year to finalize another deal. The stakes this year rise, as third franchise tags are not practical under the current system. Absent an extension before that date, the Bucs will risk losing Godwin in 2023.

Godwin, 26, surpassed 1,100 yards despite going down in Week 15. Tampa Bay certainly felt the loss of the impact receiver, after the latest Antonio Brown debacle deprived Tom Brady of two of his top three receivers in the playoffs. Godwin also has a 1,333-yard Pro Bowl season (2019) on his resume, strengthening his negotiating position. The salary cap’s $26MM spike — to $208.2MM — will embolden tagged players as well. The Bucs’ quarterback plan adds intrigue to this situation, with Godwin running the risk of his numbers plummeting if the team cannot acquire a quality passer this offseason.

A Godwin tag will mean Carlton Davis remaining on track for free agency. The Bucs are hoping to re-sign Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa, but those two are also a week from being able to speak with other teams. Tampa Bay managed a historic feat last year by bringing back its entire Super Bowl LV core, but the team runs the risk of that group splintering soon.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Franchise Tag In Play For Chris Godwin; Bucs Hope To Re-Sign Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa

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.

Bucs To Start Post-Brady Rebuild?

With three-time MVP quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement earlier today, speculation has already started on the future of the Buccaneers’ franchise. Brady’s retirement has experts wondering about the futures of tight end Rob Gronkowki and head coach Bruce Arians. Both have flirted with retirement before. 

Contributing to the postulation on Arians’ situation is head coaching interest in the Buccaneers’ coordinators on both sides of the ball. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich recently had his second interview for the Jaguars open coaching position. Reportedly, talks have stalled as Leftwich has expressed issues with current general manager Trent Baalke continuing in that position, with Leftwich preferring Cardinals’ vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson to replace the polarizing GM. The Saints have requested an interview with Leftwich, who previously received interest from the Bears before they hired Matt Eberflus. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has interviewed with the Bears, Jaguars, Raiders, and Vikings. With the Bears’ job taken, Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels being the presumed frontrunner in Las Vegas, and Jacksonville having conducted multiple second interviews Bowles’ opportunities for a head coaching job are starting to dwindle, as well.

More cause for speculation has risen from an article from Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. In the article Wilson reports that Arians has informed the entire coaching staff that they have permission to seek jobs around the league regardless of whether or not the new position would be a promotion. With the potential exit of the two New England-legends and the impactful group of Buccaneers heading into free agency, this permission could potentially be an opportunity to abandon ship before the start of a Tampa Bay rebuild.

In terms of those free agents, joining free-agent-to-be Gronkowski are three other significant role players: wide receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, and cornerback Carlton Davis. Godwin is expected to be the top free agent priority in Tampa Bay after he received the franchise tag for this past season. Jensen came over three years ago from the Ravens on what then made him the highest paid center in the NFL. Davis was a key contributor due for a big contract year on defense before being placed on IR after Week 4 of the season and missing eight weeks during a crucial year.

The domino-effect of Brady’s retirement is already looming large over the Buccaneers’ prospects for the 2022 NFL season. Tampa Bay has the entire offseason to navigate these obstacles and mitigate the potential fallout. After winning a Super Bowl just last year, the departure of Brady could be as game-changing to the Buccaneers as his arrival was nearly two years ago.

Buccaneers Interested In Re-Signing WR Chris Godwin

One of several big names scheduled to hit free agency on the Buccaneers is wide receiver Chris Godwin. While last season’s champions will have to make several tough decisions on which players to keep and let go, it appears Godwin will be one of their priorities. 

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Bucs “have high interest in re-signing Godwin”. That would certainly be a worthwhile investment, considering his production so far in his career. Even in 14 games in 2021, the 25-year-old posted 98 catches for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns – already his second 1,000 yard campaign.

Godwin suffered a torn ACL in December, ending his season. Especially after Antonio Brown‘s departure from the team, his absence was felt in the Bucs’ passing attack. Fortunately, the surgery he had to repair the knee, performed earlier in January, was successful, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Even if some teams are cautious making free agent offers due to the injury, Godwin would likely see a large market if he tests the waters. After playing on the franchise tag (set at $15.9MM) in 2021, a second tag would raise that number to just over $19MM if the Bucs decided to go that route. Instead, Fowler predicts “a sweet-spot deal that acknowledges the high-end market while protecting the team” as the ultimate outcome if he stays in Tampa.

Of course, much of Godwin’s plans will likely hinge on whether or not Tom Brady decides to return; even if he does, Godwin might still have the opportunity to be this year’s top wide receiver (with the potential exception of Davante Adams). He will therefore be central to the Bucs’ offseason, which will itself be one of the most intriguing around the league.