Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
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What are the expectations for Bucs’ receiver Chris Godwin this season?

2024 has the opportunity to be a major season in the timeline of Chris Godwin’s career. Heading into a contract year, Godwin is 28 years old with a chance to cash in another large check.

The 2023 season was an odd one for the Bucs’ number two receiver. It was Chris Godwin’s third consecutive year with 1,000 receiving yards, his fourth time doing so in the last half-decade. With a new quarterback, in a new offense, Godwin produced, however, his production didn’t feel as consistent as the stats might indicate (83 catches, 1,024 yards). Throughout last season, there was a sense of emergence missing, a steady underlying tone of “It’s third and eight, where’s Godwin?”

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During the Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay, Chris Godwin made a living eating up defenses over the middle of the field— Literally, as Godwin signed a three year, $60,000,000 contract with the Bucs after the 2021 season. Mike Evans and Tom Brady’s connection stole all the flash, posting 33 touchdowns across three seasons, however, Godwin’s ability to move the chains in tight spots became his calling card and was almost Welker/Edelman-esque.

The former Penn State standout accumulated just 15 touchdown receptions during Brady’s run in Tampa, but the rapport between the two was obvious. Brady quickly saw the Yin to Mike Evans’ Yang that Godwin represented. While Evans was a touchdown-maker for Brady’s Bucs, Godwin was the engine— Over three seasons, Evans caught 221 passes, Godwin eclipsed that number significantly with 267. During Jameis Winston’s last year in Tampa Bay, Chris Godwin walked to the front of the line and established himself— 86 catches, 1333 yards, and nine scores. His production with Tom Brady solidified his position in that line.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Bucs traversed their first NFL season without Tom Brady since that 2019 campaign. The Bucs had Baker Mayfield playing the part of pass thrower and Mayfield posted good numbers. His 4,000 yards, 28 touchdowns, with just 10 interceptions were arguably (in some areas) better than the numbers Brady had put up a year prior.

Mayfield’s on-field connection with Mike Evans was apparent early. The two started out with three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards in the first three weeks of the season— Conversely, Godwin had just 13 catches in that span.

An inauspicious start, but not one that held back Godwin’s overall, season-long production though it was a bit of foreshadowing. As 2023 progressed, Tampa Bay and Baker Mayfield caught fire and found their stride, Godwin never quite hit his. Despite a 4,000 yard passer who tossed nearly 30 scores being his quarterback, Chris Godwin had just one double-digit catch game, and only two games with more than 100 yards receiving.

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Chris Godwin is just 28 years old and played last season at 27. Every player has different primes and different lengths of primes still, it seems unlikely Godwin’s production fell off because as an athlete he’s hit ‘the wall.’ Chris Godwin is likely lined up to have another productive season next year— How productive, is the question.

2024 will be a new challenge for Chris Godwin. The Bucs have a new offensive play caller, so this will be the third time in three years Godwin will need to find how he fits behind Mike Evans in a system— A change Todd Bowles did address with the media. Additionally, Tampa may have drafted Chris Godwin’s successor. The Tampa Bay Bucs have had the luxury of two high-quality and highly paid wide receivers for years, but that is a luxury. Tampa drafting Jalen McMillan in round three with Chris Godwin in the last year of his contract, is a fairly clear indicator of things to come. McMillan’s playstyle projects similarly to Godwin’s and he will certainly be a cheaper piece than 28-year-old Chris Godwin seeking a new deal.

2024 has all the makings of a major turning point in the career arc of Chris Godwin. It is also may be the last season he’s cast as Robin to Mike Evans’ Batman. A bitter taste on the tongues of Tampa Bay fans who have grown to love the toughness and grit of Chris Godwin on game day but a reality none the less.

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