The tag will cost the Bucs roughly $16.5 million and means they won't be able to tag outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who earned $15.8 million playing under the franchise tag last year. Tagging Barrett again in 2021 would have cost the Bucs $18.96 million -- 120% of what they paid last year. Barrett and inside linebacker Lavonte David will both become free agents.
The Bucs will need to make a series of cap-saving moves to retain these players, as they had only a projected $15 million in salary-cap space before tagging Godwin, assuming the salary cap is $181 million (the NFL has not made the salary-cap number official for 2021).
By tagging Godwin, the Buccaneers made it a priority that he return to pair with top receiver Mike Evans. With the franchise tender, the Bucs will be allocating a combined $33.1 million to Evans and Godwin in 2021.
"It's not bad paying two No. 1 receivers, that's for sure, when they're as good as our two No. 1s," coach Bruce Arians said last month.
A third-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in 2017, Godwin worked his way up to a full-time starting role in the 2019 season, when he reached the Pro Bowl and established himself as one of the league's most consistent wide receivers.
His 74% receiving percentage over the past two seasons is third highest in the NFL behind only the New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas and Seattle Seahawks' Tyler Lockett, and Godwin's 0.5% drop percentage over the past two seasons is among the lowest in the NFL.
Moving inside to Arians' "big slot" receiver role in 2019, Godwin finished that season with 1,333 receiving yards -- third most in the NFL despite missing the final two games with a hamstring injury.
A hamstring injury, concussion and fractured finger forced him to miss four games in 2020, but he finished with four touchdowns in the final three games of the regular season and led the team with 232 receiving yards and a touchdown in the postseason as the Bucs won Super Bowl LV.
Godwin, who turned 25 in February, might not have game-breaking speed, but his consistency as a route runner and his concentration ability on contested catches allow him to shine. Quarterback Tom Brady regards Godwin as having "some of the best hands" he has ever seen.
He has 244 receptions for 3,540 yards and 24 touchdowns in 58 regular-season games in his career.