Several big names are preparing to play the 2021 NFL season on the franchise tag, with Allen Robinson and Brandon Scherff among Pro Bowlers reportedly unlikely to strike long-term agreements with their respective teams ahead of Thursday's deadline for extending tagged players. It appears like we may be able to add one more name to that growing list as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Buccaneers and Chris Godwin are not expected to reach a long-term deal prior to the deadline. Rapoport adds that Tampa Bay will work to keep him long-term this coming offseason.
By signing his tag, the 25-year-old Godwin ensured he'll earn just under $16 million guaranteed playing for Tampa Bay in 2021. While an extension may not be reached prior to the deadline, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times has previously reported that there have been ongoing discussions between the two sides and could very well reach a deal before the start of the new league year in 2022.
Godwin will enjoy a significant pay raise at any rate, having earned just $2.3 million during the team's 2020 Super Bowl run. One possible reason for the holdup to a potential long-term deal is Tampa Bay's current salary cap situation. The Bucs have an estimated $488,886 in current space, which ranks dead last in the NFL.
"If the Bucs and Godwin don't strike a long-term deal by Thursday," Stroud notes, "they have until the start of the next league year next March to do so." Both sides have publicly expressed interest in staying together, with Godwin telling reporters in March that he "loves it here in Tampa" and would be more than willing to play out the 2021 season with or without a long-term agreement.
The Bucs proved early this offseason they can be creative when it comes to retaining key players. In addition to tagging Godwin, they successfully re-signed almost every notable free agent from their Super Bowl-winning lineup, from running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown to tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Lavonte David. They also extended star pass rusher Shaquil Barrett on a four-year deal worth $72 million ahead of free agency. Speaking of Barrett, he could be a blueprint for how Godwin's situation may play out. He was tagged for the 2020 season and later inked an extension. So long as Godwin plays to the level in which we've seen throughout his career, he could be going down a very similar path.