The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed their franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin for the second year in a row. Godwin is the first player in team history to receive the franchise tag twice; he played the 2021 season on the one-year tender offer that came with his initial tag.
The deadline to apply franchise or transition tags was Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Despite missing the final three games of the 2021 season due to a knee injury, Godwin led the Buccaneers and finished 11th in the NFL with 98 receptions, turning them into a team-high 1,103 yards and five touchdowns.
The Buccaneers once again used the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on Godwin, meaning he can negotiate with other teams but the team retains a right to match any contract offer. If Godwin does sign with another team and the offer is not matched, that team must send two first-round draft picks to the Buccaneers.
The non-exclusive franchise tender offer is a one-year contract that becomes the player's salary for the upcoming season if and when he signs it. The calculation of the tender offer Godwin received in 2021 was based mainly on the top five salaries at the player's position from the previous year, though there were other factors, including the salary cap figures of the past five seasons and the projected cap figure for the upcoming season. A second tag, as Godwin is receiving, requires a tender offer of 120% of the player's salary from the previous season; in his case, that is roughly $19 million.
The placement of the franchise tag does not mean that Godwin and the Buccaneers must or will stop negotiating on a new long-term contract to keep the young pass-catcher in Tampa. In fact, the tag is often utilized as a way for a team to extend its negotiating window with a player it wants to retain with a longer deal. For instance, the Buccaneers used a franchise tag in 2012 on kicker Connor Barth and eventually came to terms with Barth on a four-year deal later that spring.
Thus, the designation of Godwin as the Bucs' franchise player in 2021 makes it extremely likely that the team will keep its elite receiving duo of him and Mike Evans together for at least one more year, and perhaps for the long term.
Godwin was one of 23 players from the Buccaneers' 2021 division-winning roster who were set to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the new league year on March 16. Since only one tag can be used each year, the Buccaneers must now seek other means to try to retain the likes of Carlton Davis, Jordan Whitehead, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa and others, if they so desire. For the second year in a row, Head Coach Bruce Arians has indicated that the Buccaneers' top priority in free agency will be to retain their own core players. The team was very successful in that regard a year ago, managing to bring back every starter and nearly every key reserve from the 2020 team that won Super Bowl LV.
In five seasons, the former third-round pick out of Penn State has recorded 342 receptions for 4,643 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was selected for the Pro Bowl after his third season, in which he caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns.
This is the seventh time the Buccaneers have utilized a franchise tag since the option was created in the original CBA in 1993. That year, Tampa Bay placed the tag on standout left tackle Paul Gruber, who responded with a five-game holdout but eventually signed a new long-term deal with the team. The Bucs also used the tag in 1999 on defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, in 2009 on wide receiver Antonio Bryant, in 2012 on Barth, in 2020 on Shaquil Barrett and last year on Godwin. Barrett subsequently signed a long-term deal with the Buccaneers last March. This is the first time the Buccaneers have employed the franchise tag in three consecutive years.