The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs. This week’s topic: Which Bucs WR Is Most Productive In 2021?
Scott Reynolds: Evans Continues To Make Bucs History In 2021
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I know that Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin has the chance to get more targets and thus be more productive than Mike Evans in Bruce Arians’ offense. That was the case in 2019 when Godwin led the Bucs with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns on 121 targets. Evans had 67 catches for 1,157 yards and eight TDs on 118 targets. Both receivers made the Pro Bowl that year, and Godwin was dominant working in the slot for the first time in his career, playing the Larry Fitzgerald role in Arians’ scheme. That position is always going to get he most targets in Tampa Bay.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But even that year Godwin only played in 14 games as he missed the final two weeks with a hamstring injury. Godwin is a heck of a player and he’s physical, but he missed four games last year due to injury. That’s six missed games over the last two years. Missing four games last year limited Godwin to 65 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns on 84 targets. Evans didn’t miss a game in 2020 and played through numerous injuries to finish with 70 catches for 1,006 yards and a team-record 13 touchdowns on 109 targets.
Who am I to bet against Evans? This is the best receiver in Tampa Bay history and one of the best in the NFL. He’s the Bucs’ all-time receptions, yardage and receiving touchdowns leader, as well as the single-season TD receptions leader. Not only that, Evans is the first and only NFL receiver to have seven consecutive seasons to start a career. As long as he starts at least 14 games I’m penciling in Evans for eight straight seasons. Godwin, who is in a contract year as the team’s franchise player would need to stay healthy for all 16 games to a shot at posting a better statistical season than Evans. But I think Big Mike has another season as Tampa Bay’s leading receiver.
Mark Cook: Breakout Season For Godwin Coming In 2021
My headline is a little misleading I suppose as Godwin technically had that breakout season in 2019 where he set personal bests with career highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns notching 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. And Godwin missed the final two games with a hamstring injury. Imagine his numbers had he been able to play a full 16 games.
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Mike Evans and Antonio Brown will eat into Godwin’s numbers, as will running back Giovani Bernard and tight ends O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski, but I still expect Godwin to eclipse the 1,000 mark for the second time in his career. Brady loves Godwin who he has said has the best hands on the team and the rapport should build throughout training camp and preseason.
Godwin also has some major motivation to perform well in 2021 – a new contract. The Bucs gave Godwin the franchise tag this past offseason and would like to get a deal done to lock him up long term. It’s likely the two sides eventually reach an agreement however you never know so 2021 might also be an audition year for the other 31 teams around the league. With a full season behind them, and a full offseason program plus three preseason games expect the Bucs offense to be better in 2021, and Godwin in particular.
Jon Ledyard: Expect A Monster Season From Godwin
If Chris Godwin had played all 16 games last year, he would have led the Bucs in targets, catches and yards. Godwin is the best and most versatile receiver in the Bucs offense. He’s the volume guy for Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich, and he’s explosive enough to turn those big reception numbers into team-leading yardage as well.
Last year Godwin played less than 12 full games, but still finished just five catches behind Mike Evans on the season. In two seasons under Arians, Godwin has reeled in 71 and 77 percent of his targets. Those are ridiculous marks especially his efficiency with Brady. Now, Godwin will need more catches than Evans in order to pass the elder receiver in yardage. But in next year’s version of this offense, I’m guessing he’ll get all the volume he needs.
The plot thickens when it comes to touchdowns. Godwin has been a highly productive red zone target with 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons. In fact, Godwin reeled in seven scores in less than 12 full games of action last season. But he’s on a roster with three of the greatest touchdown scorers of all time in Evans, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski. Collectively, Godwin will have the best production, but he might get edged in touchdowns by one of his teammates.
Matt Matera: Godwin Is The Correct Answer
I said it on a previous Pewter Report Podcast and I still stand by it. Chris Godwin is the answer because he’s the most consistent. Without injury, Godwin is the Bucs receiver that gets the most looks his way and can be more productive with getting yards after the catch.
Godwin is arguably the most versatile receiver that the Bucs have with his ability to play both inside and outside. He’s become a reliable target, especially on third down. The amount of difficult receptions he’s made shows he’s one of the best in the NFL.
All the other receivers on the Bucs’ roster have defined roles with the exception of Godwin and Antonio Brown. It’s the two of them in the the clubhouse for who’s most productive. There’s a reason why Godwin dominated the Bucs in 2019 with 86 catches and 1333 yards and was still second on the team last year with 65 receptions and 840 yards despite just playing in 12 games. He just makes it work out there.
J.C. Allen: Antonio Brown The Forgotten Man
I feel like people forget just how good Antonio Brown really is. With all the off-field noise that has happened in the past two years it’s like all of his past achievements never happened. The fact is the last time Antonio Brown played close to a full season he caught 104 balls for 1,297 yards and a career best 15 touchdowns. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler, four time All-Pro and one of the best receivers of the last ten years. And guess what? He’s fresh.
Having played only 10 full games in two seasons, while maintaining a strict training regiment, A.B. looks good as ever. While he will be competing for snaps and receptions in a loaded wide receiver room his chemistry with Tom Brady is unquestionable. His touchdown in the Super Bowl, which was revealed to be the wrong route, shows their ability to find each other even when things break down. In eight regular season games with limited time to learn the playbook and no off-season Brown still reeled in 45 receptions.
Much like Chris Godwin, Brown has something to prove this year. He needs to show the league he can stay out of legal trouble and that he is still the dynamic receiver he has been throughout his career. While Brown may not lead the team in receptions or yards this season, he could find himself with the most touchdowns. After all Brown’s 79 touchdowns are the third most by any player of the last ten years. His production can be measured in other ways also. With the third most first down receptions of all active players, his ability to find the soft spots in defenses will prove to be a huge asset in sustaining drives. His versatility to play all over the field and step into either starting spot and excel should injury arise cannot be overlooked as well.