Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin was having a career year and on his way to a massive payday in free agency before blowing out his knee around Christmas. Now, with the Buccaneers in transition and Godwin’s health a concern, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding his fate. Let’s dive into Godwin’s 2022 free agency prospects (and what teams could bid for his services), his contract, and a review of his 2021 stats.
Updated (3/8/22): Chris Godwin will be back in Tampa Bay in 2022. The Buccaneers tagged him for the second straight year, but surely want to bring down his $19.2 million cap figure.
Chris Godwin: Free Agency Overview
If healthy, Godwin would have inarguably been the second-best receiver in all of free agency behind only Davante Adams. And even after his major injury (and long rehab), he still might be.
Recapping Godwin’s 2021 season
Godwin tore his ACL on a low tackle by Saints safety P.J. Williams in late December. Reconstructive surgery came a few weeks later, meaning Godwin’s availability for Week 1 of the 2022 season is no sure bet. Recovery from such an injury takes between six and nine months.
The injury ruined what had — up until that point — been a dream contract year. He had caught 98 passes on 127 targets for 1,103 yards and 5 touchdowns. Godwin averaged 8.7 yards per target despite a career-low aDOT of 7.3. As you might guess, Godwin was excellent after the catch (6.0 yards per reception).
Godwin’s contract estimate and salary cap implications
Godwin has made $20.6 million since the Buccaneers took him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The lion’s share of those earnings came in 2021 when Tampa elected to pay him $16 million under the franchise tag. Godwin is in line for a raise, even with his health concerns. Spotrac lists his market value at $18.1 million per season, which would easily put him into the top 10 of all NFL wide receivers.
The Buccaneers, however, might not be able to afford him. After loading up the last two years, the bill has come due. Following Brady’s retirement, the Buccaneers are believed to have less than $10 million in cap space entering 2022. And beyond Godwin, their list of UFAs include cornerback Carlton Davis, running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, and front-seven players Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh.
Possible landing spots for Godwin
Again, Godwin’s fate will largely depend on his medicals. But assuming team doctors are confident in recovery, there won’t be a lack of teams interested in his services.
The Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Pittsburgh Steelers all make a ton of sense. They all have big-time holes at receiver, and not surprisingly, all finished outside of the top 20 in yards per pass and passer rating in 2021.
What they’re saying about Godwin
“He’s a great player. You talk about an All-Pro player who’s had a career season. He does so much for us. And he’s a unique player. We don’t try to ask other guys to be him. Byron [Leftwich] has done a great job taking the guys that he has each week — it’s been a bunch of different ones — and putting them in position to where they can be successful. But none of them are Chris Godwin.” — Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on what the Buccaneers lost when Godwin got hurt
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