Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin received the franchise tag on Tuesday, a move that kept him from free agency and marked his return to the Super Bowl champions.
The “non-exclusive” franchise tag on Godwin means the wide receiver can negotiate with other teams. The Buccaneers retain a right to match any contract offer. Should Godwin sign with another team and the offer is not matched, that team must send two first-round draft picks to Tampa Bay.
Head coach Bruce Arians hinted the move could be coming in February while finger-counting the number of marquee players the team stands to lose in free agency. The move could push pass rusher Shaq Barrett, who was tagged by the Buccaneers last March, into free agency.
Godwin anticipated the move and told the Pat McAfee Show last month, “I want to be here. … The goal obviously is to get paid, right? But I’m not stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I’m going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars.”
Using the franchise tag to retain Godwin comes at a cost of around $16 million for the 2021 season and further tightens the salary cap for the Bucs.
One possible method of relief is a restructured contract for quarterback Tom Brady, who has one year left on the two-year deal he struck with the team in March 2020. Converting his incentives — likely to be earned — and base salary into a bonus could bring a savings of more than $15 million against the 2021 cap, per reports.
Godwin turned 25 in February and pairs with Mike Evans to form one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. He had 65 catches for 840 yards in 2020 despite dealing with leg, finger and elbow injuries.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)