The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have three high-profile representatives in the 2020 Pro Bowl: outside linebacker Shaq Barrett and wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday evening and the Buccaneers have their biggest contingent of all-stars since 2015. Evans will return to the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row and the third time in the last four seasons. Barrett and Godwin will both be making their first all-star appearances.
The 2020 Pro Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sunday, January 26, one week before Super Bowl LIV. Barrett, Evans and Godwin will represent the NFC against a squad of AFC all-stars. All three were among the most productive players in the NFL in 2019 and were richly deserving of Pro Bowl recognition.
Evans' three Pro Bowls tie Tony Mayberry for the third-most by an offensive player in franchise history and he now has the most all-star selections by a receiver in team annals. Though he missed the Buccaneers' last game due to a hamstring injury and may not get an opportunity to build on his stats in the final two weeks, Evans is currently fourth in the NFL and the NFC with 1,157 receiving yards and tied for fourth with eight touchdown catches. He joined Randy Moss as the only two players in NFL history to open their careers with six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
This marks the first time in franchise history that the Buccaneers have placed two wide receivers in the Pro Bowl in the same season. That makes sense as Evans and Godwin are just the 17th pair of teammates in NFL history to each have at least 1,150 receiving yards and at least eight touchdown catches in the same campaign. And now they are the first pair of receivers from the same team to make the initial Pro Bowl roster (not including later replacements) since Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in the 2008 season.
"It's always an honor to be named to the Pro Bowl, but especially this year because I get to experience it with Chris," said Evans. "To be the first pair of receivers in Buccaneers history to go the Pro Bowl in the same season is awesome. We both work hard to be considered among the best in the league and each of us getting chosen shows that our efforts are paying off."
Barrett is the NFL's sack leader with 16.5 quarterback takedowns. He's also tied for first with 31 quarterback hits and tied for first with six forced fumbles. With two games remaining, Barrett has tied the Buccaneers' single-season sack record and is seeking to become the first Tampa Bay player ever to lead the NFL in that category for an entire season.
Barrett joined the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in March after four seasons as a rotational player in Denver's defense and has seized an opportunity to start in incredibly impressive fashion. He will be the first player not drafted by the Buccaneers to represent the team in a Pro Bowl since Logan Mankins in 2015, and the first player to sign with the team as an unrestricted free agent and end that same year in the all-star game since Vincent Jackson in 2012.
Barrett originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Denver in 2014. His 16.5 sacks this season (so far) are most in a season by an undrafted player since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.
"To make the Pro Bowl, it's a dream come true," said Barrett. "That's the best way I can sum it up. I dreamed of this growing up. It's huge honor and I can only hope that I'll have more to follow."
Barrett is the first Buccaneer specifically designated as an "outside linebacker" to make the Pro Bowl since Lavonte David was thus classified in 2015. David is now considered an inside linebacker in Tampa Bay's 3-4 defense. Barrett is the first Buccaneer edge rusher to make the all-star game in 16 years, since Simeon Rice in 2003. He will be one of three outside linebackers on the NFC team.
Godwin earns his first Pro Bowl nod in his third season, just as Evans did in 2016. He ranks second in the NFL with 1,333 receiving yards and tied for second with nine touchdown passes. Godwin recorded his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season on Sunday in Detroit even though he left the contest in the third quarter with a hamstring injury of his own. He too may not have an opportunity to increase his numbers in the final two games of the season but he already has the fourth-highest single-season receiving yardage total in franchise history.
"Getting named to my first career Pro Bowl is such a blessing," said Godwin. "This is a special moment and while I've worked hard to get to where I am in my career, I wouldn't have been able to do this without my teammates and coaches. I've had the chance to play alongside some of the best in the NFL, including Mike Evans, and sharing the honor with Mike makes it even better. I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity."
Though they faced stiff competition, Evans and Godwin will form half of the initial NFC Pro Bowl receiving corps. The top five NFL leaders in receiving yards all play in the NFC, as do eight of the top nine. That list includes such past Pro Bowlers as Michael Thomas, Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Of course, given their hamstring injuries it is possible that one or both of the Bucs' Pro Bowl receivers will have to be replaced on the playing roster before the actual game.