Wednesday July 14th, it was reported by Ian Rapoport that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Chris Godwin would not reach a long term extension before the franchise tag deadline.
Godwin will play the 2021 season on the franchise tag. This means that his contract will be for just one year and roughly $16 million. While this is a hefty pay raise from his rookie contract, it’s clear that both he and the Bucs want something more long term.
However, that leaves us with the looming question. What does a long term extension for Godwin look like? It’s obvious the Bucs value him, but how much in terms of dollar amount is to be determined. Here are some key factors that will go into a possible extension.
First and foremost, Godwin is a great player. His hands are as reliable as anybody in the NFL. He’s seen his catch percentage improve every season and ranked second in the NFL among receivers with at least 40 catches. Keep in mind this often comes from working out of the slot and operating in the more crowded middle part of the field.
Godwin also does a great job of blocking. While working closer to the offensive line, he often chips defensive ends, blocks linebackers at the second level and is too strong for many nickle corners. His toughness and physicality help set the tone and he is an asset as a run blocker. He does everything you could ask from a slot receiver.
In addition to that, Godwin offers a lot as an outside receiver. He runs his routes well and has the speed to be a deep threat as well as make plays in space. There is a lot of value in this versatility and there’s no doubt that the Bucs want to keep this type of skill set under contract.
On average, Godwin has averaged 885 yards and six touchdowns per season in his four years. These are respectable numbers in themselves. Even more so when you consider that he only started seven games over his first two seasons.
Since taking over full time as a starter, Godwin has averaged 1,086.5 yards and eight touchdowns per season. This also included a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl victory in those two years. Clearly both his individual success as well as team success have improved since him becoming a more featured part of the offense.
Last year’s free agent market was an interesting one for wide receivers. Not many big contracts were given out. A few names that you could base a Godwin extension off of from the offseason are Kenny Golladay and Juju Smith-Schuster. Both are a similar age to what Godwin will be in the next free agency and got their payday after their rookie deal.
The biggest contract of these two was Golladay. He signed a deal for four years and an average $18 million per year. He has established himself as one of the better deep threats in the game and an endzone weapon with his 6’4 size. Despite this, Godwin has more yards and touchdowns in his career. It is worth noting that Godwin has played in ten more games and started four more, so that may make up the difference of around 500 yards and three touchdowns that separates them.
Smith-Schuster earned a one year deal for $8 million with the Steelers. Despite having the best statistics of these three (3726 yards and 26 touchdowns) he didn’t receive nearly the payday of Golladay or Godwin. There have been some questions with his maturity, which may play a factor in his deal. Whatever the reason, it’s a contract that could lower Godwin’s market a little. Especially with a comparable player like Smith-Schuster being a free agent again next year.
There is of course the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Teammate Mike Evans signed his extension in 2018. This was a team friendly deal at just $16.5 million per year. This is relevant for two reasons.
The first is that Evans was more productive than Godwin leading to his extension. Even if you just look at the years where Godwin was a starter, Evans averaged better numbers per year. It is unclear at this point if the Bucs would want to invest more money in a less productive wide receiver.
The other issue is the total dollar amount the team wants to invest into their receiver core as a whole. While there is no doubt that Godwin has been great, it may be unwise to invest a large contract into a second wide receiver. Currently the Bucs have the second most money invested in this position after being eighth lowest last season when they won the super bowl.
Godwin is going to get a big payday. If not from the Bucs than from someone else. Assuming he stays in Tampa Bay and doesn’t take a Evans type discount then I could see a contract of four years at $71 million.
At that deal he would average $17.75 million per year. This would be the most of any player who isn’t the number one option on his team. It would also make him the tenth highest paid receiver in the NFL.
This is a contract worthy of his talent. A contract Godwin has earned. If this comes to pass is yet to be seen. After all, we have seen lesser receivers get bigger contracts as recently as four months ago. However, this is a number that seems a good value for both sides. Only time will tell as to what this eventual contract will actually look like.