NFL free agency will soon mark its merciless arrival and the market may be robust with legitimate game-changers at the wide receiver position. One of those players is Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin, who would command a ton of attention should he and his representation fail to reach an agreement with Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht prior to the fast-approaching March 14 deadline. Godwin would be one of the most sought-after pass-catchers for teams in need of an upgrade at the receiver position. The Buccaneers possess 10-plus crucial free agents in addition to Godwin, including Alex Cappa, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ndamukong Suh, among others. Licht must prioritize which players he hopes to retain as he can't possibly keep them all. Should Godwin be allowed to walk, he's expected to land a multi-year contract elsewhere in the neighborhood of $15-plus million annually. Godwin recorded a career-high 98 receptions in 2021 despite only making 14 appearances due to a season-ending knee injury suffered in Week 15. Godwin's rehabilitation process should have little impact on his leverage on contract negotiations, as he's expected to recover in time for September's regular season kickoff. We've identified three potential suitors for Godwin's services should he depart the Buccaneers in free agency.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTSGeneral manager Chris Ballard must be an aggressive player in free agency following his team's disappointing failure to qualify for the postseason. Starting quarterback Carson Wentz performed below expectations in his debut season as a Colt, but surrounding him with more weapons should help him take the desired step forward in Frank Reich's familiar offense. The Colts enter the offseason with $36.9 million in available cap space, via Spotrac. Ballard has been particularly frugal in recent years, but the time to spend big money has arrived. Indianapolis' three best offensive players are Michael Pittman Jr., Jonathan Taylor, and Quenton Nelson, all of which were drafted by Ballard. It's time for Indianapolis to begin filling out this unit with high-level free agent signings, and Godwin's addition would certainly qualify as a sizable splash. Pittman is a legitimate WR1 that defeats man coverage and wins vertically. The second-year receiver took a massive step forward as a sophomore, recording 88 receptions for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns in 17 regular-season appearances. Opposing secondaries will be wiser to the threat Pittman poses in his third season, and Indianapolis must find an appropriate running mate. Godwin's ability to embarrass zone coverage underneath would compliment Pittman's explosive skill set nicely.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERSMuch of the Commanders' offseason will focus on finding a new starting quarterback. General manager Martin Mayhew possesses the 11th overall selection in the upcoming draft. Washington could target Liberty's Malik Willis, Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett, or Ole Miss' Matt Corral with that pick. If Washington decides to draft a signal-caller, they must do everything within their power to set that quarterback up for immediate success. A receiver like Godwin is often a quarterback's best friend, as he gets open with ease when faced with zone coverage underneath. Godwin makes a quarterback's life easier, and that's the type of support and environment a rookie signal-caller deserves. Terry McLaurin is an excellent pass-catcher but Washington desperately needs to add better players opposite him. The signing of Curtis Samuel has backfired so far and Adam Humphries is set to become a free agent. Humphries wasn't particularly effective in 2021, and Mayhew shouldn't be overly eager to retain his services. The Commanders have more than $30 million in available cap space and should be highly intrigued by Godwin should he reach the open market. Washington's offense lacks a legitimate WR2 currently, but pairing McLaurin with Godwin would instantly give them one of the more exciting one-two punches in the league.
CHICAGO BEARSThe impending offseason is all about setting franchise quarterback Justin Fields up for success. The Bears are ushering in a new era following the firing of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. The fate of the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus regime will ultimately be decided by how Fields progresses under their tutelage. Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton will almost surely depart in free agency, and the 2022 campaign will mark its arrival without controversy in Chicago. Make no mistake, this is officially Fields' team. Allen Robinson is largely expected to leave Chicago for greener pastures after Robinson and Chicago's signal-callers never got on the same page this past season. Robinson accumulated career-lows in receptions (38), receiving yards (410), yards per catch (10.8), and touchdowns (1) when applying minimum qualifiers. Robinson is still expected to land a lucrative contract elsewhere, and the Bears' receiving corps will become even thinner than it already is. Darnell Mooney is an excellent building block, but the Bears need to add at least two more capable receivers this offseason. Debut general manager Poles has more than $26 million in available money to play with, and additional space can be created via releases and restructures. Landing a big fish like Godwin would allow Fields to immediately produce in 2022.
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