Following the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run, Chris Godwin’s rookie deal was up, and Jason Licht decided to franchise tag him. This voided Godwin’s ability to hit the market and pursue a safe long term contract. The price tag for Godwin in 2021 was a staggering 15.9 million. One injury could be a nightmare and lose Godwin’s millions of dollars.
That nightmare became reality as the Pro Bowl receiver tore his ACL in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. This injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Godwin most likely won’t be healthy for the start of the free agency window early next year, potentially losing him millions. Ligament tears are injuries that teams view as a red flag and could be reluctant in offering him a big deal.
Buccaneers’ fans know how devastating a ligament tear can be, following Carnell “Cadillac” Williams’ gruesome injury in 2007. Before that, he was slaughtering the league, even being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. Cadillac was never the same and we never got to see his potential.
Chris Godwin busted onto the scene after being a third round draft pick in 2017 out of Penn State. In the last game of his rookie year he caught the game-winning touchdown with just under 10 seconds remaining. In his sophomore season, he upped his numbers to 59 catches and over 800 yards, marking his improvement. 2019 was his statement year, as he established himself as one of the league’s premier receivers as he marked 1333 yards on 86 catches in just 14 games. 2020 was a down year, but he came back in 2021 even breaking the team’s single game reception record vs Atlanta.
Godwin could’ve shattered the receiver market and earned himself a record contract. He is the whole package, he’s young, can get open, will make tough contested catches, elite run blocker, physical after the catch and versatile. All these attributes can fit into any scheme across the league. Godwin also hasn’t seemed to reach his peak as he is still refurbishing his game every year, and it has shown during his tenure with the Buccaneers.
A positive for Godwin is that even with his physical play, he has only had minor injuries that are nothing to worry about. In his career, he has only missed a handful of games with minor injuries.
A Rare Talent
There aren’t many receivers of Godwin’s skill level and age that hit the market. The ones who do however get paid big numbers. Early in 2020, Amari Cooper signed a 5-year 100 million dollar extension with the Dallas Cowboys. In 2019, Tyreek Hill signed a 3-year 54 million dollar deal to stay in Kansas City. These contracts are a good baseline for Godwins as he is still projected at around 5-years 90 million dollars.
Entering the 2022 off season, the Buccaneers will have roughly 32 million in cap space that, after restructuring, will probably end up around 40-45 million in cap space. That may seem like a big number, but the Bucs have nearly half of their roster needing new contracts. That list includes, Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen, Rob Gronkowski, Alex Cappa, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown and Jordan Whitehead.
The franchise tag has created a road block for players to get what they are worth. Injuries like these are devastating and potentially career ending. One year deals don’t let the team invest in players. Godwin has to worry about negotiations and getting back as quickly as possible, instead of having a team looking out for his longevity.
Most Bucs fans and media believe Chris Godwin will re-sign, and I agree. He’s created a home and can become an all-time great in the Bay Area.