2019 Bucs in Review: Wide Receiver
When stories are told of the Buccaneers' 2019 season, one group will stand alone as truly outstanding: the wide receiver corps. The group boasted likely the league's best wide receiver duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. In fact, Evans and Godwin might go down as the best Bucs receiver duo in franchise history.
Overall no wide receiver corps in the NFL put up more yards (3596) or touchdowns (26) than the Bucs' wideouts. They accounted for 56.4 percent of the Bucs total offense, second-highest in the NFL behind just the Miami Dolphins.
Obviously, the real stars of the show were Evans and Godwin. Individually, they were top-five in receiving yards per game and collectively averaged 92.2 yards per game, over ten yards more than any other receiving duo in the NFL.
They were also one of just two tandems among the top ten scoring receivers. Together they scored 17 touchdowns, behind only Detroit's Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones' 20 endzone trips.
Godwin in particular had an outstanding season. He averaged 11 yards per target and a 71.1 percent catch rate, fourth- and third-best respectively among receivers with at least 50 receptions. For his efforts, the third-year receiver was named to the 2019 NFL All-Pro team along with Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett.
Evans was no slouch either. He eclipsed 150 yards in three games this season and caught three touchdowns in one game against the New York Giants. He also sealed the Bucs' offensive explosion over the Rams in Week 4:
What's especially remarkable about Evans and Godwin's production is that neither was able to play a full 16-game season. Both were lost to hamstring injuries in the final weeks of the season, with Evans playing in 13 games and Godwin playing in 14.
Fortunately, the Bucs had an answer for their injury problems waiting in the wings: free agent pickup Breshad Perriman. The former first-round pick arrived in Tampa Bay last spring as a bust, catching just 59 passes for 906 yards and five touchdowns in his three seasons in the NFL.
Though he started slow, Perriman became a focal point in the Tampa offense after Evans went down in Week 14. In the final three weeks of the season, Perriman caught 17 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns. Down the stretch, he looked every bit the top receiving prospect he was drafted to be, especially on this touchdown reception against the Indianapolis Colts:
The production of the Bucs' top three wide receivers did not leave much for their depth to do. Rookie Scotty Miller struggled with coming down with passes, catching just 50 percent of his targets, but he showed off some of his breakaway speed on the balls he did catch, averaging 15.4 yards on 13 catches, including this 33-yard touchdown bomb:
Second-year receiver Justin Watson also saw his first meaningful action in the NFL this season. After Godwin went down in Week 15, Watson started opposite Perriman in the final two games. In the final four games of the season, Watson caught 14 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
The production at the wide receiver position is especially impressive considering the Bucs lost Desean Jackson and Adam Humphries in the offseason. Somehow, Chris Godwin not only absorbed Humphries' role as slot receiver but became a more consistent playmaker than Jackson.
Heading into the offseason, the Bucs have one key move to make: sign Godwin to a long-term extension. He proved in 2019 that he can do anything in Bruce Arians' offense, and he is likely to only improve his stock with another year before he hits free agency.
Another major question mark for the wide receiver corps is who will be throwing to them next season. Jameis Winston's contract is due to expire, and it is unclear whether he will return. There is no denying his gun-slinging ways was a major reason for the receivers' success in 2019, but the duo of Godwin and Evans might make any quarterback look good.