He may not be a household name, but Chris Godwin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is slowly becoming one of the best receiving threats in football. He’s had a stellar career so far in his first three seasons. Now that the Bucs have brought in one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, expectations for Godwin may shoot through the roof.
There’s just one problem for Godwin: his production has outpaced his contract. Here’s why Godwin is the most underpaid NFL player at the moment.
Chris Godwin’s epic 2019 season
There’s an old wives tale about wide receivers that many seemingly break out in their third season. While you can debate the truth behind this old adage, it definitely holds water when it comes to Godwin.
Godwin showed plenty of promise in his first two years, but last year was a big one for the young wideout. Take a look at his 2019 numbers via Pro Football Reference:
- 86 catches on 121 targets
- 1,333 receiving yards
- Nine touchdowns
- 95.2 yards per game
- Catch percentage of 71.1%
- 11 yards per target
For his efforts, the NFC rewarded Godwin with his first Pro Bowl selection.
The role of Chris Godwin in the Buccaneers offense
Believe it or not, despite his wonderful numbers, Godwin may not even be the best receiver on his own team. He’s paired with number one receiver Mike Evans, though the two would be better classified as 1 and 1A.
Evans and Godwin made Tampa quite a threat to go deep often last season. The main issue came with their quarterback’s accuracy. While Jameis Winston threw for over 30 touchdowns, he also threw over 30 interceptions. He could get the ball downfield consistently but was inconsistent when it came to completing passes.
It’s a new season, however, and Godwin should be ready to feast. Evans will be back alongside him, making both standout receivers nearly impossible to double team. Even if Brady isn’t the threat to throw deep he was several seasons ago, he’s known for his accuracy and will likely turn in more consistent performances than Winston. On top of all that, Brady coaxed former New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement.
In short: Tampa’s offense has no shortage of receiving threats this year. While the QB is aging, he’s not known for throwing a ton of picks. Godwin can expect his great numbers from last season to either remain steady or improve.
So why isn’t Godwin paid like the receiving threat he is?
The most underpaid player in the NFL
Chris Godwin is still on his rookie deal, which means he is ridiculously underpaid based on his production. Spotrac reports that last season he made around $677,000. This season he’ll make around $2.1 million — progress, but still not remotely close to what he could command on the open market with numbers like his.
Godwin hits unrestricted free agency after this season. If Godwin duplicates his 2019 performance — and all indicators are that he will — can you imagine the types of offers he’ll receive? Godwin’s a young, productive receiver in the prime of his career who’s already shown the ability to put up big numbers with an inconsistent quarterback.
The team’s position is fairly clear based on what they’ve said. According to CBS Sports, they’ve called extending Godwin “a priority.” That said, he doesn’t have a deal done yet. Actions speak louder than words.
The Bucs should lock Godwin up before he hits free agency, otherwise, they may lose him. The longer they let him loose, the higher the chance he’ll end up somewhere else. Extending Godwin should be the team’s major concern before the 2020 season kicks off.