Fasten those seatbelts, Bucs fans. The Chris Godwin ride to a long term contract just got a little bit bumpier.

On Tuesday, Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams made headlines when he re-signed in Los Angeles. Well, he would have made headlines if Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson weren’t already occupying them all. In a stunning move, the Chargers re-signed Williams to a 3-year, $60 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed. That contract was well beyond the projections of most cap experts, who thought the 27-year old receiver would come in closer to $17 million per year.

But the average annual value is just the beginning of the surprises in Williams’ contract. Also of note is the brevity of the contract, giving Williams the bag for just three years of team control. That means the five-year pro will hit the market again at 30 years old, with the potential to cash in on another strong deal. But the biggest item in Williams’ favor is the fully guaranteed money. Almost 67 percent of the Clemson product’s new contract is fully guaranteed! That is an absurd discrepancy between Williams and the rest of the NFL.

Obviously the 3-year deal is important context, rather than the 4-5 year deals that are typically handed out. But there is no way to look at Williams’ contract and not consider it a massive win for the player. In fact, PFF’s contract expert Brad Spielberger called it “one of the stronger deals for a player in recent memory”.

Impact On Godwin’s Market

That’s great for Williams. But the reality is that he isn’t the best or even second-best wide receiver on the market this offseason. We already know Davante Adams is likely going to be the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. He’s in a group by himself. But Chris Godwin’s contract was expected to be more in line with Williams’ projected deal. Now, all of that is up in the air.

The Bucs placed the franchise tag on Chris Godwin shortly after Williams’ contract was announced. It’s highly unlikely the two moves were related. Godwin was heading for the tag anyway, with the Bucs determined not to let him hit the market. Also, it’s naive to think the Bucs were stunned by the Williams’ contract. After all, Godwin and Williams have the same agent. Instead, Williams’ contract is a clear indicator as to why it has been so hard for Tampa Bay to lock Godwin into a long term deal.

Godwin wants a contract more in line with the money Williams is getting. That’s well above the $16-17.5 million per year range that most projections had him landing in. Now, Godwin could get the $40 million guaranteed that Williams received. But it would likely come over a four-year contract, with the Bucs wanting control until his age 30 season. Godwin is about a year-and-a-half younger than Williams.

Could Godwin’s Injury Lower Bucs Price Tag?

Now, Godwin’s injury does complicate things. If both players were fully healthy, I think most teams would value Godwin more. He’s more scheme versatile and well-rounded, and has four consecutive 50+ catch seasons. Williams only has one of those. But Godwin tore his ACL and MCL in December. The uncertainty of his injury could result in a lower payout than Williams.

That’s an aspect of free agency Godwin can’t avoid. If there’s any leverage the Bucs have, it’s that they know Godwin doesn’t want to play on the tag again. He did that last year, and suffered a major injury. Now that injury is the only thing standing between him and a pay day like Williams. He may get there this offseason, but if Godwin plays on the tag and suffers another significant injury, his free agency market will plummet. He’ll go from $18-20 million per year conversations to JuJu Smith-Schuster-level deals.

Leverage Is Now Moot For Bucs, Godwin

Godwin needs to sign a long-term deal this offseason. And the Bucs need him to sign a long term deal, soon. Tampa Bay needs the cap space to re-sign other key free agents. There is no longer any doubt about what it will cost to keep Godwin around. Spielberger told me he now projects Godwin to garner a 4-year, $76 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. So a little less annual value, but more in guarantees over a four-year deal.

One caveat here: state income tax. One reason Williams contract numbers are so high is that he’s in Los Angeles. The state income tax in California is 12.3 percent! Meanwhile, in Florida there is no state income tax. So Godwin could make a couple less million per year than Williams, and still probably bring in more money. Of course, the agent may not consider that if he just wants two wide receivers making $20 million per year.

At this point, Godwin and the Bucs are married. The reality is that the Bucs will probably need to pay him in the $19-20 million range. Both sides now know this. It’s not going to be as team-friendly as it originally appeared, but it won’t kill Tampa Bay either. They need to get over the thought that they could keep Godwin for less than Mike Evans’ AAV (average annual value) of $16.5 million. That’s not going to happen. Nor does Evans care.

The Bucs can extend Evans and bump his salary this offseason. Or they can just accept that the market rises, Evans was paid years ago and he’ll someday be paid again. The important thing is that Godwin is back for 2022 and beyond, and that Tampa Bay can re-sign other key free agents. Now both sides need to get the deal done and not let negotiations drag into free agency.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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bucballer
bucballer
3 months ago

Don’t like this Godwin saga at all. It’s unbelievable that a long term deal couldn’t be done after 2 years. Not much difference between 17-18 mil and 18-20 mil. Godwin has had major surgery and he’s injured often. I don’t begrudge a player for trying to get all he can. I don’t. But u just had major surgery and u don’t think that 17-18 mil per is enough for u? He’s not even WR 1 on this team. He’s WR 2! He knows the cap issues the Bucs have and that they need money to sign talent around him to… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  bucballer
3 months ago

When Evans signed his deal, it made him the second highest paid WR in football. Doing the same thing for Godwin today would put him at over $22M per year. If the team was offering that, he’d take it, lol. So the Evans comparison is moot. He got a truly premium contract at the time. Of course he happily signed it. I’m not saying that Godwin = what Evans was then, just saying – of course Mike took a deal that gave him the 2nd biggest average salary at his position, and massive guarantees to go with it. You may… Read more »

chefboho
chefboho
3 months ago

$20 mil a year for Williams is absurd. Hes not even a top 10 receiver in the league let alone at that price. Gonna be hard to sign anyone else with Godwin taking such a huge chunk of money unless there’s some major changes to existing ones. I get that you gotta get that bag while you can but these agents are pushing these contracts into the stratosphere. I know that this staff and organization are incredible at maneuvering numbers but they’re gonna have to be magicians this year otherwise this team will lose over half their starters from last… Read more »

seat26
seat26
Reply to  chefboho
3 months ago

He’s actually #6. And that was with missing several games. And only in the category of total yardage. His TDs weren’t that great, but he dominated on the field. If we lose him, our team is significantly weaker. We have already taken a hit with Brady and Marpet retiring. We’re about to lose Fournette and Rojo too. Possibly Whitehead too. And that isn’t counting any other players that might be thinking of retirement. What about JPP? What about Suh? What about David? Or Gronk? I don’t want to go back to being a sub 500 team. Keeping Godwin is essential.

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  seat26
3 months ago

I was speaking about Mike Williams not being a top ten WR. Godwin on the other hand is a top ten receiver.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  chefboho
3 months ago

The Williams deal is shockingly bad. It’s the kind of deal teams give shit to the team who gives the deal out for ruining the entire freaking market at the position. because giving Mike freaking Williams $20M per year with 2/3 of his money fully guaranteed make signing other receivers brutally difficult for every other team. It’s an irresponsible contract for any team to give out. Really just indefensible. At the end of the day they’re looking out for themselves and doing what they think is best, but this contract is just stupid.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
3 months ago

This just goes to show that the Bucs love Godwin a lot more than most including me. I like Godwin but I don’t love him and that’s the big difference. Problem for the Bucs is Godwin’s agent knows this and won’t budge from his asking price. At some point Jason Licht needs to draw a line in the sand and stick to his guns because he’s hurting this team by allowing a greedy agent to dictate the market.

StreetzMyestro
StreetzMyestro
3 months ago

Haven’t heard a comment about how much the Bucs talked him up. When you do that, you show your hand, so of course he knows how much they value him which in turn gave Godwin more leverage. And this has nothing to do with being greedy. These teams have allowed all of these contracts to explode into these astronomical figures over the years, so that’s the nature of the game now. There was no reason for Williams to get a contract like that, but the Chargers allowed it. I’m sure if he would’ve hit the market, there’s no way he… Read more »

Salty Dog
Salty Dog
3 months ago

Seems to me both sides could’ve figured this out by now. Pay the man and lets move on. We hear all about the love for Godwin but in 2 years they haven’t figured it out, don’t understand personally. I realize its not that easy but they’ve had plenty of time IMO

pinkstob
pinkstob
3 months ago

After Wirfs, Godwin is the best player we have on this team and they need to do everything they can to keep him. I don’t think $20 million a year is too much for Godwin.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  pinkstob
3 months ago

20 mil for a number two WR? Wow!

PissedOffBuc1988
PissedOffBuc1988
3 months ago

Godwin is good. He’s an elite we, but he is not mike Evans. IDC what anyone says, Mike Evans is the best wr on this team. Yes, Godwin needs to be kept, but at what point does licht draw the line? Mike Evans wants to win. He is the ultimate team player. Goodwin should have no problem making 13-15 million. That’s more than enough. I’m done with these guys acting like 13-15 mill a year isn’t enough. Godwin hasn’t stayed healthy for a whole year, yet Evans battles thorough pain. If Godwin wants 17-19 a year, he needs to show… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
3 months ago

Delusional. Enjoy living in your pipe dream where players just intentionally take less money than they’re worth on the open market.

Horse
Horse
3 months ago

We have just seen a perfect example as to how easy it is to increase inflation due to fear of lousing a need that was unnecessary if the Buccaneer’s had the guts to say,enough! It’s destroying the game! Next year will just be worse. Greed, greed, greed, and more greed They are lost Soul’s. I am so glad I am not them.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

But you are one of them Horse. Don’t you understand how all of this works? It’s all about the player’s association getting a reasonable, agreed upon share of the TV money. That’s what is driving up the revenues, and in turn the seemingly outrageous salaries. Why is there so much TV revenue? Because we fans can’t get enough NFL football. It’s you, me and others who are “greedy” for the game we love to entertain us. So the networks are willing to pay big bucks to the NFL for those rights and in turn have their advertisers pay for those… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
3 months ago

Scubog you are correct. I fully understand how this works. In the last five years because of greed. I no longer watch any pro Baseball, Basketball, All Football except Bucs. For the first time, the Buccaneers will not be a priority I have to watch first; I’ll just record. So it is easy to say what I’ve said. Pro Sports have driven the fans away because of greed. I choose not to contribute anymore for this greed.. My property rentals are always at least 25% below the market rates because I believe in helping others and this is one way… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

Commendable Horse! I over-tip too. My wife and I often say we won’t ever have much because I give too much away. Many people want others to contribute without ever doing it themselves. I’m sure you realize most of the players and NFL owners give to charities. Doesn’t that count for something? Ever go to a movie, watch TV or listen to music? Chances are, those folks are doing pretty well. You can’t isolate yourself from people just because they are successful.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

When revenues go up, as they continue to do, there are literally only two possible places the money can go – players or owners. These NFL owners are bathing in cash, both from their NFL teams and from their non-football ventures. Many of these owners (including ours, since Malcolm Glazer died) didn’t even really earn their wealth or these teams they own, they inherited those things from those who did the work to get there. Which is fine, but you’ll never catch be being of the mind that player pay should stop growing or be artificially capped beyond what the… Read more »

WVBuc
WVBuc
3 months ago

Let Godwin walk in 2023. If he holds out in 2022, who cares…he’s already going to miss up to half the season and be limited the rest of the way. Wish they hadn’t tagged any players.

Dman
Dman
3 months ago

Insane.