Chris Godwin

Buccaneers, Mike Evans Not Progressing On Extension; WR Sets Deadline On Talks

SEPTEMBER 5: Jordan Schultz of the Score reports that no talks have transpired in the past few days, pointing further to the impending deadline passing without an agreement being reached. He adds, however, that the Bucs will make a final attempt to hammer out a deal later this week. Unless that effort produces an eleventh-hour resolution, Evans will begin the campaign without being on the books beyond 2023.

SEPTEMBER 1: Earlier this month, GM Jason Licht expressed a desire for Mike Evans to stay in Tampa on another long-term commitment. Suddenly, the Buccaneers are facing a deadline to make that happen.

The sides have not made progress on an extension, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. In the wake of this report, Evans’ agent has set a Week 1 deadline regarding Bucs extension talks (via’s Mike Garafolo). The agent-released statement indicates the Bucs have not made Evans an offer. The 2014 first-round pick said earlier this month he would like to finish his career with the Bucs, but his statement indicates this extension effort has transpired over multiple years.

Evans, 30, is going into the final season of a five-year, $82.5MM contract. At the time of signing (March 2018), this deal made Evans the league’s second-highest-paid receiver (behind only Antonio Brown‘s third Steelers contract). Days later, the Chiefs added Sammy Watkins on a $16MM-per-year deal. That scrutinized contract catalyzed the receiver market, and the eventful 2022 offseason — which included another notable Bucs wideout payment — led to Evans’ deal being passed many times over. Evans’ $16.5MM AAV has dropped to 17th at the position. Evans’ less accomplished teammate, Chris Godwin, is among the players who passed him. The Bucs gave Godwin a three-year, $60MM extension in March 2022.

The only player in NFL history to start his career with nine 1,000-yard seasons (no one else moved past seven to begin a career), Evans provided considerable aid to the likes of Jameis Winston and Tom Brady. The 10th-year pass catcher is now believed to be seeking a deal in line with the one the Rams gave Cooper Kupp last year, Stroud adds. Los Angeles reupped Kupp on a three-year, $80.1MM deal that came with $75MM guaranteed. This came after Kupp’s triple-crown season. Evans has not produced a season on that level, though his body of work eclipses Kupp’s.

Evans has created some distance between himself and the second-best pass catcher in Bucs history, sitting first on the franchise’s all-time receiving list (10,045 yards). Only Godwin and Vinny Testaverde-era weapon Mark Carrier accumulated more than 5,000 as Bucs; Godwin sits second with 5,666. Godwin, 27, is three years younger than Evans and more likely to be on the 2024 roster. The Bucs are not as interested in big-ticket payments for veterans in Evans’ age range post-Brady, Stroud notes.

Although this deadline indicates Evans is prepared to change teams in 2024, it does not exactly mean the end of the line for his Bucs partnership. The team could conceivably use the franchise tag to keep him. But the past two teams to unholster the tag to keep veteran wideouts — the Bengals in 2020 (A.J. Green) and Bears in 2021 (Allen Robinson) — have regretted it. The Bucs also have Antoine Winfield Jr. as a more logical tag candidate; the fourth-year safety is going into a contract year. Devin White requested a trade this offseason but later returned to the team. The fifth-year linebacker is not a tag candidate but also represents a key 2024 Bucs free agent.

Evans’ agent told Stroud it “sickens” the veteran wideout to see holdout players be rewarded as he has continued to produce. Evans represents a key part of the Bucs’ 2023 equation, which centers around Baker Mayfield replacing Brady. But if this bit of orchestrated pressure does not lead to an extension in the next nine days, Evans could become a trade candidate. Should the Bucs start slowly, ESPN’s Dan Graziano notes both Evans and Godwin should be expected to land in trade rumors. Two years remain on Godwin’s deal.

Restructure Details: Bolts, Bucs, Bills, Jets

Teams continue to be aggressive in creating cap space ahead of Wednesday’s start to the 2023 league year, when franchises must be in compliance with the new $224.8MM salary cap. Here are the latest moves teams made to get there:

  • Reasonable Chargers activity in free agency should be expected. The team that began the week well over the cap has now created more than $40MM in space over the past couple of days. Following the moves to restructure Keenan Allen and Mike Williams‘ contracts, Field Yates of tweets the team created $25.99MM by tweaking Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack‘s deals. Mack’s 2023 cap number drops by $10.8MM, while OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald adds Bosa’s drops by $15.2MM. Bosa’s 2024 number ballooned to $36.6MM because of the move. That will, then, necessitate more maneuvering down the line. The Bosa, Mack, Allen and Williams moves have created a total of $40.37MM in space, Lindsey Thiry of tweets. They are now more than $19MM under the cap.
  • In completing four restructures, the Buccaneers have now created more than $44MM in cap space. They redid the deals of Vita Vea, Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Bucs have moved to being barely $5MM over the cap, after beginning March at nearly $60MM north of the salary ceiling. Cuts of Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate and Donovan Smith have helped the team along the way as well. That said, Fournette and Brate cannot be released until after the start of the league year, Greg Auman of Fox Sports notes (on Twitter). The Bucs being unable to realize those savings until after 3pm Wednesday will force them to find a few other ways to create that space.
  • The Jets adjusted the deals of Laken Tomlinson, D.J. Reed and Tyler Conklin — all free agency additions from 2022 — to create $15.2MM in cap space, Yates tweets. Still working to land Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are now $11.5MM under the cap.
  • The Raiders are among the leaders in cap space, but Yates tweets they adjusted Maxx Crosby‘s deal to create $7.5MM in additional funds. Las Vegas holds more than $43MM in cap space, sitting third overall ahead of free agency.
  • Bills defensive tackle Tim Settle agreed to a $600K pay cut for 2023, Yates adds (on Twitter). The 2022 free agency addition still has $2.1MM in guaranteed money for 2023, with the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran adding Settle can earn up to $4.41MM this year via incentives. The Bills are moving closer to the deadline with a lot of work left ahead; they are more than $19MM over the cap.
  • The Vikings and swing backup O-lineman Chris Reed agreed to a renegotiated deal that trims his cap number by around $1MM, per Yates. Minnesota still has work to do ahead of the cap-compliance deadline, sitting more than $7MM over the cap.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin Could Miss Weeks

SEPTEMBER 16: As expected, Godwin is out for the Bucs’ Week 2 game. Smith is doubtful to suit up against the Saints. Wells would start in Smith’s place if he is unable to go, Jenna Laine of notes.

SEPTEMBER 12: Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin‘s return from injury has hit another snag, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Godwin’s most recent injury is not considered to be major, but the 26-year-old is still expected to “be sidelined a few weeks.” 

Godwin’s 2021 season ended too early after he suffered a torn ACL and sprained MCL in a Week 15 loss to the Saints. He made an impressively quick recovery to return in time for the Buccaneers’ season opener, but his comeback season hit a bit of a hurdle in just the first half of play in 2022.

Godwin had to awkwardly contort his body to catch a low pass in the second quarter last night. When getting up off the sideline, Godwin came up with a limp. Luckily for Godwin, it appears the injury is not an extension of his knee issues from before. Unluckily for Godwin, the hamstring injury still may delay a full comeback for another week or so.

Tampa Bay planned for this possibility, signing Julio Jones to a one-year, $6MM deal and former Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage to a three-year, $30MM contract in the offseason. Adding those two alongside star receiver Mike Evans sets the Buccaneers up for success in the passing game, especially with holdovers Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, and Jaelon Darden lurking further down the depth chart.

The Buccaneers also saw left tackle Donovan Smith leave the game and not return to the field after injuring his arm. Smith reportedly suffered a hyperextended elbow on his right arm, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Head coach Todd Bowles told the media that the length of Smith’s absence “will be a pain tolerance issue.”

It appears that, until Smith can tolerate playing with the pain, the Buccaneers will have to add him to their growing list of injured lineman, joining Aaron Stinnie and Ryan Jensen. For any time he misses, Tampa Bay will rely on backups Josh Wells, Fred Johnson, and Brandon Walton.

Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin Could Play In Week 1

Chris Godwin continues inching towards a possible return for the Buccaneers. When speaking to reporters for the first time since he resumed practicing in August, the Pro Bowl wideout called himself a “game-time decision” regarding Tampa’s season opener against the Cowboys. 

“I don’t have a definitive answer,” Godwin said, via ESPN’s Jenna Laine“I’m just really grateful to be out there right now.” The 26-year-old began participating in individual drills last month, making incremental progress from the knee injury which ended his season last December. Earlier this week, he shed the knee brace he had been using, opening up the possibility that he could suit up for Week 1.

“I think it’s a really like complicated process,” Godwin cautioned, however. “Obviously, you come off a major injury like this, you never really know how you’re gonna feel. But I’ve been doing really well… I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, and like each day, it’s very different than the day before… I think whenever the time comes for the game, I think everybody will know, but until then, even I’m not sure.”

Laine notes that Godwin has still yet to be cleared for contact in practice, so it would come as little surprise if the team were to remain cautious with him and keep him sidelined. Tampa Bay made a sizeable commitment to Godwin this offseason, signing him to a three-year, $60MM deal to avoid a situation where he played out the 2022 season on the franchise tag. The Buccaneers also have a bevy of other high-end receivers to rely on should Godwin be unable to start the season, including Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Russell Gage.

“[The games] count the same, but we want him well,” head coach Todd Bowles said. “I don’t want him out there before it’s time. If he’s healthy and ready to go and they clear him, and everybody feels he’s ready to go and it’s completely 100%, then you take your shot. Anything less than that, I’d rather him sit.”

Godwin’s status will therefore likely come down to the wire on Sunday. His return will be a welcomed sight for the Buccaneers whenever it happens, but it may not take place for another week or so.

Latest On Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin

The Buccaneers are expected to once again have one of the league’s most potent passing attacks in 2022. Much of the team’s success in that department will depend on the health status of Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin. Today saw an encouraging piece of news on that front. 

Godwin practiced without a knee brace, as detailed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (video link). That marks another notable milestone in his recovery from the torn ACL which ended his 2021 campaign. Despite being limited to 14 games as a result of the injury, he topped 1,000 yards for the second time in his career. That left him as one of several big-name free agents Tampa Bay had to find a way to re-sign this offseason.

The team was able to do just that, signing the 26-year-old to a three-year, $60MM deal. The move signalled confidence that Godwin would be able to recover in full, and remain an instrumental part of the Buccaneers’ high-octane offense pairing with Mike Evans. Notable additions were nevertheless made, including Russell Gage and Julio Jones in free agency; that quartet will give Tom Brady plenty of options even in a pass-catching corps which no longer includes Rob Gronkowski.

Those deals have, of course, led to some surprising moves with respect to roster cuts. Chief among them was 2020 fifth-rounder Tyler Johnson being lost to the Texans on waivers last week. A healthy Godwin would once again provide significant production from the slot, though, alleviating the potential concerns generated by Johnson’s absence.

If Godwin continues to make progress throughout the week, he could be available to play in Week 1. It will likely take several days for his status to be confirmed one way or another, but his season-long outlook at the least continues to look positive – something which will be highly important for him individually and one of the NFC’s presumed heavyweights generally.

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 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 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.