TAMPA (Fla.) — Two main themes emerged from discussions regarding Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week among NFL executives and scouts as well as coaches at the NFL combine. They were:
1. The uncertainty at quarterback, which won’t be answered until at least March 14 when legal tampering kicks off.
2. Chris Godwin, wide receiver, is too valuable to lose and cannot be sold on the open market.
“Chris is so valuable to what we do, and obviously, we really, really want him back,”Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay coach said it last week.
Godwin’s representatives met with the Buccaneers in Indianapolis, and both sides said those conversations were positive and that Godwin’s asking price was fair and reasonable.
Barring an agreement at the 11th hour, which is unlikely, the Bucs are prepared to franchise-tag Godwin by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline would cost the Bucs approximately $19.18million after they paid him $15.98million to play under their franchise tag last season.
A franchise tag doesn’t automatically mean a long-term deal won’t get done, and sources close to these negotiations emphasized that. The Bucs still have time to negotiate for the next season, with a deadline of July 15.
The Dallas Cowboys placed the tag on quarterback Dak Prescott before last year’s franchise tag deadline, but it was considered merely a procedural move before Prescott signed his long-term extension, which he did.
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But the NFL mandates that a second consecutive franchise tag for a player costs at least 120% more than the player’s previous salary. It does not allow for salary-cap relief (as opposed to a contract that could spread out the cap hit over years, which the Bucs could really benefit from) and teams can’t tag a player more often than three times. They could theoretically also get a new contract before free agency begins on March 16.
Kenny Golladay was instrumental in driving up the wide receiver market when he signed a $72 million four-year contract with New York Giants last March. Godwin, who turns 26 in February, will likely seek a three year deal to allow him to reenter free agency before he turns 30. This would allow him to cash back in again, provided he maintains his level.
If the Bucs do tag Godwin, it precludes them from tagging cornerback Carlton Davis, a player some had pegged the Bucs to tagging and whom the Bucs said they’d be open to tagging.
Davis is coming off an impressive season in which he missed just one interception and missed five games. While he is a strong press corner and arguably the Bucs’ best corner, teams around the league still look at stats. Although he had a personal best of four interceptions two year ago, it was still tied for seventh place in the league. Xavien Howard, however, led the league that season with 10 interceptions.
Godwin catches passes from Tom Brady for two seasons. He recently retired. Godwin also had a 1,000 yard season with Jameis Winston, further proof that the wideout is highly respected in NFL circles.
Godwin is coming off a 1,103-yard year despite missing the last three games with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and MCL. He underwent surgery on Jan. 3. Prior to his absence, Godwin’s team-leading 1,054 receiving yards were fourth most in the NFL. Arians stated that Godwin is at 45 percent recovery.
“Knowing Chris and the way he works — he had a good surgery, and those guys are coming back faster and faster now — I don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all,” Arians said.