The goal for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was to get healthy and gain momentum heading into the playoffs. Following an embarrassing 9-0 home loss to the Saints, it’s safe to say the Bucs aren’t moving in the right direction. And to add injury to insult, it has now been revealed that wide receiver Chris Godwin will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury.
Godwin has been the Bucs leading receiver this season. He leads the team in receptions (98) and yards (1103). His work out of the slot as a pass catcher and as a blocker have been critical to the offense over the last few years. Needless to say, he will be a major loss for this team down the stretch.
However, as they say, it’s time for the next man up. Godwin’s playing time will now be going to someone new. In all likelihood, it will be split between several players as the Bucs look for someone to emerge and fill the void. While no one player will be able to replace Godwin, here are three players who could step up and take his place.
The most natural replacement for Godwin is his backup, second year receiver Tyler Johnson. Johnson, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher, was drafted in the 5th round and stuck on the Bucs roster through their Super Bowl run. He’s appeared in 28 career games with 457 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
During his college years Johnson was one of the most productive pass catchers in Big Ten history. He currently ranks top ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for a career. Clearly there is significant to work with here.
That talent has shown itself when given the opportunity in Johnson’s young career. Most notably was his critical third down catch in the fourth quarter of the Bucs playoff game in New Orleans. Johnson also drew the game clinching passing interface call the following week against the Packers.
With dependable hands and an ability to work over the middle of the field, I’d anticipate Johnson to get the first chance to fill in for Godwin.
The Buccaneers have a lot of weapons to speak of. From Mike Evans to Rob Gronkowski to Antonio Brown, there are future Hall of Fame pads catchers all over the place. Frankly, you’d have to list off more than a handful before you got to tight end Cameron Brate.
Over the last eight years Brate has quietly gone about his business and got the job done. Brate signed in Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent our of Harvard in 2014. At that time his was just depth behind second round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Since then he has site time with O.J. Howard and currently Gronkowski.
However, despite always being the other tight end in town, Brate has worked his way towards the tops of the Bucs record books. He is tied for third in franchise history when it comes to touchdown receptions. Should he pull in just four more this year then he will stand alone at second in Buccaneers history behind only Mike Evans.
Brate can step in and play the big slot roll with Godwin out. And while the two are very different players, each are effective in their own way. And as a tight end, Brate might be able to bring more blocking than a wide receiver.
There’s no two ways about it, Breshad Perriman has been a bust in the NFL. After being drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2015 draft, he’s now with his fourth team since that day. He has a career 2148 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.
With that said, nobody knows that tantalizing talent that Perriman has more so than Bucs fans. He played his college ball somewhat locally at Central Florida. Then in 2019 Perriman returned as a pro and put together his best season with the Bucs. His 645 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 2019 remain career highs. And let us not forget his 58 yard walk off touchdown catch and run vs the Buffalo Bills in overtime just ten days ago.
Perriman is a remarkable blend of size and speed. At 6’2 and 212 lbs, he ran a 4.25 40 yard dash at his NFL pro day. This gives him legitimate big play ability every time he steps on the field. It has also translated to Perriman being a good blocker as he uses his size to his advantage.
Perriman will never be the reliable playmaker who can make tough catches like Godwin was. However, his ability to block and the deep threat he provides might be enough of a skill set to the offense in similar ways. Helping in the run game, taking pressure off the Bucs bigger stars and making occasional splash plays is a very valuable and reasonable skill set that Perriman can provide.