One of the biggest surprises on Monday regarding an NFC South receiver not named Calvin Ridley came from Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers reportedly plan to use the franchise tag for the second year on receiver Chris Godwin. Although being on the wrong end of the franchise tag is always bad news for a player, this specific development carries a few shreds of good news for Godwin.
First, the Buccaneers apparently believe his torn ACL and MCL, suffered in Week 15 and repaired in early January, are healing well. Why else would the Bucs offer him a 20-percent raise over last year’s franchise tender, committing $19.18 million in cash and cap space to him for 2022?
Second (related to the first), the Buccaneers apparently must think there’s significant demand for Godwin’s services elsewhere, that he’d be able to leave Tampa Bay and make more on a long-term deal elsewhere.
Third (related to the second), Godwin should be ready to refuse to sign any long-term deal with the Bucs because he’s one year away from fully unrestricted free agency. Yes, he’d be assuming the risk of injury in 2022, but the Buccaneers won’t give him quarterback money for 2023, the required amount of a third franchise tag. If franchise-tagged again this year, Godwin will never be franchise-tagged again, in 2023 or at any other point in his career. Even if he ends up with another team and his contract there expires, a third franchise tag will always result in quarterback money or a 44-percent increase on his cap number, whichever is greater.
All in all, it’s bad news for Godwin to be tagged. The rules allow the Buccaneers to do it, and teams routinely do. Specific to Godwin, however, the fact that the Bucs are supposedly ready to do it and the reality that they can’t, as a practical matter, do it again in 2023, becomes a very good development at an otherwise bad time for Godwin.