Food for thought: What happens if free-agent wide receiver Chris Godwin doesn't re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Godwin just finished his final season on his standard rookie contract that he signed when Tampa Bay drafted him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and he's well-deserving of a payday. However, the Bucs are going to need to spend a lot of money resigning multiple free agents and might not be able to afford Godwin.
It's "likely" that the Bucs will use the franchise tag on Godwin, which would pay him around $16 million for one season, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. If the Bucs were to tag Godwin, the franchise could work out a long-term deal in 2022 when the salary cap is expected to increase.
Godwin, however, might want more than $16 million. If Godwin doesn't like the idea of the tag, he is projected to be able to sign a five-year, $90 million deal, according to Spotrac, which would pay him $18 million a year.
Two million dollars a year isn't much more when looking at the big picture, but it's something to consider.
“I think he loves it here,” Arians said this past week about Godwin. “It’s hard to leave and go to another system just for money."
With the possibility of Godwin leaving the Bucs, we've compiled a list of players who could be a fit in Tampa Bay, including their projected market value and free-agent deals according to Spotrac:
Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected value/contract: $6 million per year; Two years, $12 million total
Cole joined the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and has since earned a name for himself in Jacksonville.
In four seasons with the Jags, Cole has totaled 159 receptions for 2,242 yards and has hauled in 12 touchdowns. His 14.1 yards-per-catch average is the third-highest in Jaguars history among players with at least 100 receptions.
While his numbers might not stick out, it's important to consider that Cole has played under a wide range of quarterbacks including Blake Bortles, Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles, Mike Glennon, Jake Luton, and Cody Kessler. It's fair to say playing under Tom Brady, Cole could see his numbers increase with consistent quarterback play.
Cole would be a really solid wide receiver-two or -three option for the Bucs and could be cheaper than Godwin. At age 27, Cole still has plenty left in the tank and could learn a thing or two playing alongside star receiver Mike Evans.
Nelson Agholor, Las Vegas Raiders
Projected value/contract: $8 million per year; Two years, $16 million total
Another cheaper option for the Bucs to replace Godwin, Agohlor caught eight total touchdowns to go along with a career-high 896 receiving yards in his first season with the Raiders.
The former Philadelphia Eagles receiver signed a one-year contract that was worth just over $1 million in what was viewed by some as a "steal" by the Raiders. Spotrac described the contract as a "prove-it" deal with Las Vegas.
And he did "prove it" playing in 16 games for the Raiders averaging a career-high 18.7 yards per catch which ranked No. 2 overall in the league behind only Green Bay's Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
While it might make sense for him to stay put in Las Vegas, Agholor might not be totally happy with the Raiders. During a Week 16 loss to the Miami Dolphins, which the Raiders lost in the final seconds, Agholor reportedly told his teammates that "they sucked."
If he's looking for what he considers a more talented team, there's no better chance to play for the Bucs, who will be defending their Super Bowl title next season.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Projected value/contract: $10.5 million per year; Four years, $42 million total
The fifth overall draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Davis peaked at the right time this year knowing he could be entering free agency this offseason.
Davis continued to improve recording multiple career-highs while serving as the No. 2 option behind A.J. Brown. Davis came up just short of his first 1,000-yard receiving season finishing with 984 yards while catching five touchdowns.
During his first three seasons from 2017-2019, Davis led the Titans in total receptions (142), receiving yards (1,867), and receiving first downs (97), and his six touchdown catches tied for third place on the club.
Similar to Agholor, Davis ranked inside the top 20 in the league averaging 15.1 yards per catch. Brown and Davis made an impressive duo for the Titans according to Pro Football Focus.
Could Davis look to play alongside Mike Evans and catch passes from Tom Brady next season? Possibly. Davis seems like a solid option for the Bucs.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Projected value/contract: $17 million per year; Five years, $85 million total
On the more expensive side of possible free-agent receivers the Bucs could sign, Fuller had a career-high season in 2020 catching passes from Deshaun Watson.
Fuller caught 53 passes for 879 yards and led the Texans with eight touchdowns. While Brandin Cooks is considered the number one option in Houston leading the team with 81 catches and over 1,000 receiving yards, Fuller has become one of the more vertical threats in the league.
However, Fuller's season came to an end in November when he was suspended for six games after violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. The game prior to being suspended, Fuller recorded six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in a Thanksgiving matchup against the Detriot Lions.
When Fuller was out on the field for the Texans, however, it wasn't hard to see his talent and highlight plays between him and Watson.
Dealing with off-field issues might be a problem for some teams, but the Bucs had signed Antonio Brown in the middle of the season so if the signing makes sense and it's something Brady wants, then it could happen.
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
Projected value/contract: $12 million per year; Four years, $48 million total
Samuel had a career-best season in 2020, posting 1,051 scrimmage yards on 851 receiving yards and 200 rushing yards.
As the No. 3 option for the Panthers behind D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, Samuel caught three touchdowns and rushed for two more. Samuel was critical on third down for Carolina this past season ranking fourth in the NFL with 28 catches on third down in 2020.
Did I mention he is only 24 years old? Samuel is just starting really unleash his full potential and playing with Tom Brady could help with that.
The Bucs saw firsthand how talented Samuel is this past season during a Week Two matchup. Samuel scored a rushing and receiving touchdown against Tampa Bay, becoming the first Panthers wide receiver to do both in the same game since Keyshawn Johnson in 2006.
He has proven himself as a receiver in the NFL but there's plenty of room to improve for Samuel. Not being a No. 1 option makes Samuel a cheaper but talented option for the Bucs to consider.
Even More Free Agent Names to Consider for the Bucs: Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions), A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals), T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts), and Sammy Watkins (Kansas City Chiefs).