On Tuesday, February 22, the window opened for NFL groups to franchise tag potential free brokers. Most groups received’t use the tag till nearer to March 8, the deadline to use the franchise designation. Final 12 months, the Bucs franchise tag choice was not a troublesome one. Tampa Bay, assured they might get longer offers completed with Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David, tagged Chris Godwin. The 2 sides tried to hammer out a long run deal and obtained shut, however in the end Godwin performed on the tag.
This 12 months, Godwin is as soon as once more the Bucs most vital free agent. However Tampa Bay has much less choices in coping with the star wideout than it did in 2021. The Bucs received’t franchise tag Godwin this 12 months, as the price could be nicely above his market worth. At the moment, tagging Godwin for a second straight season would lead to a one-year cap hit of $19.18 million.
Professional Soccer Focus’ tasks Godwin’s subsequent contract to return in at 4 years, $70 million. That’s a mean of $17.5 million per 12 months, nicely below the price of the tag. And Godwin could not even be that costly. The market is falling some at extensive receiver, and Godwin is only a few months into restoration from a torn ACL. Though simply 25 years previous, he’s battled nagging accidents earlier than lastly struggling a significant one.
I’m not frightened about Godwin’s well being long run – the hit he suffered in opposition to New Orleans is a blow that occurs a couple of times a season. However I’m additionally not placing $70 million on the road. In a market the place extensive receivers are getting rather less than anticipated in recent times, Godwin might are available in nearer to the $16.5-$16.75 million per 12 months vary, per Pewter Report’s Josh Queipo.
So what is going to the Bucs do with their franchise tag? It received’t go to middle Ryan Jensen or guard Alex Cappa. There’s simply one flat tag for offensive linemen, which pays out at $16.7 million this 12 months. There’s no probability Jensen or Cappa will command something near that on the open market. It received’t go to security Jordan Whitehead both. It will likely be cheaper per 12 months for the Bucs to re-sign him than to make use of the $13.5 million franchise tag for safeties.
If the Bucs are going to make use of the franchise tag, the one actual candidate is cornerback Carlton Davis. The four-year veteran has been the Bucs high cowl nook for the previous 2-3 years. Over the previous two seasons, Davis has established himself as one of many league’s higher corners. Sadly the second rounder missed seven video games with a quad damage. He additionally dropped a number of straightforward interceptions, which could have raised his market worth.
Proper now, tagging Davis would value the Bucs $17.3 million in opposition to the cap. That’s a big value which might make Davis the fourth-highest paid cornerback within the NFL on a per 12 months foundation. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless nearer to market worth for a premier younger participant than tagging anybody else could be. Two contracts consultants I spoke with each predicted Davis would command a 4-year, $70 million contract in free company. Basically a contract that mirrors Godwin’s projected worth.
Additionally, the Bucs would have ample alternative to barter a brand new contract with Davis earlier than the deadline. NFL golf equipment can work towards a long run deal till July 15. So they might signal him long run for basically the identical value per 12 months, however construction the contract to alleviate stress on the cap this season, when issues are tighter.
Signing Davis to a long-term deal looks like a no brainer for the Bucs. They’ve put no cash into their younger secondary but, and Davis is clearly their high cornerback. He’s improved yearly and competes like loopy on each snap. In right this moment’s NFL, it’s vital to maintain premier cornerbacks round. If the Bucs can’t work out a long run deal earlier than March 8, Davis ought to obtain the tag. And the 2 sides ought to come to an settlement on a extra substantial contract nicely earlier than coaching camp rolls round.