Things are going pretty well for Chris Godwin these days. He's coming off another strong statistical season and was able to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, the first title of the receiver's career. All of that success now sets the soon-to-be 28 year old up for quite the payday as he's looking into the valley of unrestricted free agency. While all these are good moments for Godwin, this next decision is hardly going to be an easy one. If the Bucs don't ensure that Godwin will be around by hitting him with the franchise tag or coming to terms on an extension in the next few weeks, the receiver may be faced with parting the organization just as they are trending into a yearly contender.
"It's very interesting. The team is heading in the right direction," Godwin admitted when asked about his looming free agency during his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, as transcribed by NFL.com. "This is something that I saw kind of happen over the last couple of years. Me and Mike (Evans) would have conversations going back to last year about how we felt like we were right there, like we had the right core group of guys to really make a run. We just needed a couple more pieces. You get Tom (Brady), and then it takes off in year one. I know a lot of people didn't really expect it to end how it did. But shoot, that was the goal for us.
"For me, looking at free agency, that's definitely something I'm really considering. I want to be here. I love the guys on the team. I think we've got something special. But at the same time you got to consider all the possibilities out there and consider doing what's best for you and your family."
The speed bump in a potential return to Tampa Bay simply comes down to money. Godwin is looked at as arguably the top receiver on the market and could see a contract that pays him an average annual salary that is north of $15 million annual. Spotrac projects his market value at $17.1 million from an AAV standpoint. With the Buccaneers currently sitting with just over $13 million in projected cap space (via Over The Cap) that doesn't leave the necessary space required to get Godwin at his market price. That's also not mentioning that Tampa Bay has the likes of Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and Ndamukong Suh -- who are key pieces to their defense -- set to hit the free-agent market as well.
"I think I'm in the same boat as a lot of players," Godwin said. "Like, you want to get some long-term security, you want the team to commit to you, as well. I think an extension would be ideal, but at the end of the day if the franchise [tag] is what happens, then that's what I gotta do and then we'll revisit later. I want to be in Tampa, but at the end of the day I want to get paid too."
Of course, Godwin understands the Super Bowl window that Tampa Bay has put itself in after signing Tom Brady last offseason. If he simply goes to the highest bidder, he could find himself in a situation where he's paid well but on a club that is out of contention, which is something he'll look to balance.
"The goal obviously is to get paid, right? But, at the same time, I'm not stupid," he said. "I'm not going to put myself in a situation where I'm going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars. I think my happiness is paramount in all of this and part of that happiness is winning. Just having a bunch of different guys on the offensive side that can make your job a little bit easier but also give you the best chance to win is something that I'm strongly considering. It's a big reason why I want to be here. I know I can trust my dogs when it's time to go to battle."
The franchise tag window is now open, meaning the Buccaneers are free to place the tag on Godwin at any point now until March 9.