Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Changing Strategies | S.S. Mailbag

This week, Bucs fans have questions about compensatory picks, the effects of Ali Marpet's sudden retirement, and more

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed their 2022 franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin on Tuesday, making it extremely likely he will be playing for the them this coming season, and hopefully beyond. That's good news for Buccaneers fans and it will get even better if the two sides can subsequently agree on a longer-term deal.

But even if Godwin remains in Tampa for just one more season, he will have an excellent shot to continue what, in 2021, became a very steep climb up the franchise's all-time lists in several receiving categories.

For instance, Godwin ranks fourth in team annals with 4,643 receiving yards. That happens to be almost exactly half of Mike Evans' list-topping total of 9,301, and Evans is still around to pad his numbers, so Godwin isn't getting the number-one spot anytime soon. However, he would head into 2022 need only 376 yards to pass both Kevin House (4,928) and Mark Carrier (5,018) and move into second place behind Evans.

Barring injury, that's a dead lock for Godwin, who could get there within the first month of the season. If and when that happens, the Buccaneers will become the only team in the NFL to be currently employing the two leading pass-catchers (in terms of yards) in their franchise history.

Overall, it's not terribly uncommon for a pair of teammates with overlapping careers to end up as their franchise's all-time leaders in receiving yards. The first duo that came to mind for me was the Marvin Harrison-Reggie Harrison pairing in Indianapolis. Those two were teammates for eight years, from 2001-08, and are now one and two on the team's all-time receiving yardage list.

If you review the current receiving yardage leaderboards for all 32 teams, you'll find that 15 of them have players in the top two spots whose tenures overlapped. You can probably think of a couple of them pretty quickly. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt for the Rams. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell for the Jaguars. The two teammates with the longest overlapping tenures who are now 1-2 on their team's all-time receiving yardage list is just a bit more old school than that, however.

Assuming Godwin is in pewter and red next fall, he and Evans will be in their sixth season together. On the list of 15 teams mentioned above, only four of them have a pair of all-time leading receivers who were teammates for longer than that.

10 Seasons as Teammates:

- Mark Duper & Mark Clayton, Dolphins, 1983-92

9 Seasons as Teammates:

- Steve Smith & Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers, 2001-09

- Isaac Bruce & Torry Holt, Rams, 1999-2007

8 Seasons as Teammates:

- Marvin Harrison & Reggie Wayne, Colts, 2001-08

6 Seasons as Teammates:

- Derrick Mason & Todd Heap, Ravens, 2005-10

- Jimmy Smith & Keenan McCardell, Jaguars, 1996-2001

- Ernest Givens & Drew Hill, Oilers (now Titans), 1986-91

The Buccaneers paired Mike Evans with Chris Godwin in 2017 and now they are trying to keep them together, for 2022 at the least and possibly beyond. That's a luxury that most teams are unable to enjoy for that long of a period of time.

And now on to your questions.

A reminder that you can send questions to me anytime you want on Twitter (@ScottSBucs) and they're easier to find if you include the hashtag #SSMailbagBucs. We are also now soliciting questions each week on our Instagram page; look for that story on Wednesdays. As always, if you want to get a longer question into the mailbag and would prefer to email your question, you can do so to

Are the Bucs going to get any compensatory picks in this year's draft?

-bobbyjohnson509 (via Instagram)

Probably not.

After the Buccaneers spent last offseason feverishly trying to keep the entire lineup from their Super Bowl LV championship intact – which at the same time essentially kept them out of the outside free agency market – they were never likely to figure prominently in the compensatory pick formula.

The compensatory pick system has been part of the collective bargaining agreement since the first one was created back in 1993. It seeks to compensate teams for net losses in free agency the previous offseason with additional draft picks. The formula that is used to determine which teams get compensatory picks, how many they get and in what rounds they fall is pretty complicated, but it starts with a pretty simple premise. Simply count up the number of qualifying unrestricted free agents a team lost and how many it signed the previous season; if it's a net negative, you are in for some kind of compensation.

Re-signing your own free agents does not count in the formula. Players who became free agents because they were released by their former team do not count in the formula. Players signed after a certain date on the free agency calendar do not count in the formula. Once the league has determined which free agent moves count and how many compensatory picks each team will (or won't) get, the order of those extra picks, beginning at the end of the third round, is determined by a number of factors including salary, playing time and postseason honors.

During the 2021 offseason, the Buccaneers did not sign a single unrestricted free agent who counted in the compensatory pick formula. They had three of their own unrestricted free agents sign with other teams: tight end Antony Auclair, tackle Joe Haeg and cornerback Ryan Smith.

Neither Auclair or Smith hit the necessary salary or playing time thresholds to factor into the balance sheet. Haeg, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, came close, but it appears that he did not quite get the playing time to count in the formula. If Haeg does end up counting in the formula, the best the Buccaneers could get would be one pick near the very end of the seventh and final round.

Does Ali Marpet's retirement change the Bucs' draft strategy this year?

-bucs_uk (via Instagram)

Oh, I'm pretty sure it does, and I'm basing that on one small but compelling piece of evidence: Bruce Arians said it does.

Arians spoke to the media at the NFL Scouting Combine last Tuesday, just two days after Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet caught most of us by complete surprise by announcing his retirement after seven (very good) NFL seasons. He was asked if he was also surprised by Marpet's decision and if it would have an effect on the Bucs' approach to the 2022 NFL Draft. Noting that starting left guard Alex Cappa, starting center Ryan Jensen and potential starter Aaron Stinnie were all due to become unrestricted free agents in a couple weeks, Arians said this:

"Oh, it changes it a bunch. [I'm] surprised but not just shocked, knowing Ali and the type of man he is. Yeah, it changes a lot of things as far as where we're headed in free agency with Ryan and Cap and Stinnie and all those things. Yeah, it changes it a bunch. Obviously, for us, the offensive line is huge, it's paramount. So yeah, we've got to dive into more guys here than we probably would have."

There's two things there. First, Arians acknowledges that Marpet's retirement, and the effect it will have on the Bucs' cap and cash situations, could help determine how they pursue the likes of Jensen and Cappa, the former of whom is coming off his first Pro Bowl berth. Second, when Arians said the Bucs now have to "dive into more guys here," he was talking about the offensive line prospects who were gathering in Indianapolis for the Combine.

The Buccaneers pick 27th in the first round in this year's draft, barring a trade, and it's not easy to make any accurate mock draft predictions that far down in the round. Still, when I did my most recent mock draft here on Buccaneers.com, I found rising Boston College guard Zion Johnson available and jumped on him. Seven years ago, Ali Marpet arrived and stepped directly into a starting spot on the line; the Bucs might be able to find another plug-and-play starter early in this draft, too.

Of course, Marpet was a late-second round pick, not a first-rounder. I do believe that Jason Licht and company can find potential O-Line starters on the second day of the draft, as they have done with the likes of Marpet, Cappa and Donovan Smith. So if they decide to go a different route in the first round, or simply don't have a lineman prospect they like enough at that spot, they can still adequately address the issue over the next day or two.

That said, I also don't think the Buccaneers have to go into this draft with the absolute necessity of finding an interior offensive lineman. They still could re-sign any or all of Jensen, Cappa and Stinnie, which would make the need significantly less pressing. Even if they lose one or two of those guys, they have some other options that at least seem promising, such as 2021 third-round pick Robert Hainsey. Hainsey could be the replacement for a departed Jensen at center or slide over to one of the guard spots; the Bucs touted his versatility when they drafted him last spring. Second-year man Nick Leverett has also shown promise.

So we know the retirement of Ali Marpet affected the Bucs' draft strategy, because Bruce Arians said so. We'll know how big of a need the guard and center positions really are within a few weeks as free agency kicks into gear. Interior offensive line should probably be moved up in the Buccaneers' hierarchy of needs for this year's draft, but the availability of some in-house options gives the team a little more flexibility.

Even though the Buccaneers franchise tagged Chris Godwin, what are the odds that he gets a long-term deal done before the season?

-ashton_taylor_22 (via Instagram)

I think the odds are pretty decent because I think you have two sides that are motivated to get it done. That's not based on anything Godwin has said, of course; it's just conjecture, and hopefully it's not just wishful thinking on my part.

The Buccaneers placed the tag on Godwin on Tuesday, which was the last day of a two-week window in which teams could utilize their franchise and transition tags. Though there were plenty of outside reports before Tuesday and all during that morning and afternoon that a tag for Godwin was imminent, the Buccaneers didn't actually announce the usage of it until shortly before the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline. There were additional reports that the Buccaneers and Godwin were trying to get a multi-year deal done before that deadline, and given the 11th-hour timing of the announcement those reports seem to ring true, to me at least.

And the good news is that the placement of the tag, while it beat a procedural league deadline, was not actually the end of any negotiations that may be taking place between the receiver and the team. Or at least it doesn't have to be. After a player has a franchise tag placed on him, he can sign the accompanying tender offer at any time and thus convert it into a one-year contract for the upcoming season. In Godwin's case, it would be worth about $19 million for the 2022 campaign, after which he would become an unrestricted free agent again. However, there is technically no hurry to sign the tender offer, and until that happens the two sides can continue negotiating on a longer-term deal. If a deal is reached, the franchise tag tender offer is never signed and the player moves forward on his new contract.

The Buccaneers have clearly done the math and are comfortable with retaining Godwin for 2022 on the franchise price tag if that's what it comes down to. That would likely be their last opportunity to keep Godwin off the market, as a third straight tag, while technically possible, would be prohibitively expensive. Thus, now seems like the best time for the Bucs and Godwin to work out a multi-year deal, if they truly are motivated to do so. In fact, if a deal can be struck before the start of free agency on March 16, it might actually give the Bucs a little bit of 2022 cap relief heading into free agency, depending upon the contract's structure. Of course, the same would be true if a new deal comes to fruition in April or May, but most teams would like to gain that extra cap space as soon as possible.

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