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USATSI

Tom Brady got a strong glimpse of what Chris Godwin could do in a live game when the latter grabbed six catches for 79 yards in the Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Godwin was forced to sit the eventual Week 2 win over Carolina Panthers due to a concussion, but returned last week to give Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 64-yard game that included a touchdown, helping to down the Denver Broncos in the process. Don't expect him on the field against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday though, with Godwin having been ruled out for a second time in this young NFL season -- per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network -- this time with a hamstring injury. 

There's also a chance he misses the Week 5 clash with the Chicago Bears with his MRI confirming what's being described as a mild hamstring pull that could cost him a couple weeks. Time will tell if that prognosis shrinks to just one game or expands to more.

This makes for a rough start to 2020 for Godwin, and his unavailability couldn't come at a worse time. A key weapon in the Bucs offense, Godwin broke out for 1,333 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2019, and entered this season hoping to keep that energy en route to a big payday. A former third-round pick of the Bucs in 2017, Godwin is in his contract year, and every game missed is a lowered price on the free-agent market and potentially within the Tampa Bay front office as well. 

The good news is general manager Jason Licht wants to sign Godwin to a long-term deal, and while every absence this season dents the offense a bit, it lowers the price and seemingly might help Licht accomplish his goal. There is no doubting Godwin's ability -- having reeled in 2,700 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first three seasons -- as a dynamic complement to Mike Evans, and the Bucs would prefer him in tow as they work to sharpen the offense around Brady in 2020. 

The sooner he returns, the better it'll be for both him and the team, but especially the former, as he attempts to build toward unrestricted free agency next offseason.