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Chris Godwin’s uncertain future in Tampa Bay has implications for the Giants

The star wide receiver becomes a free agent at the end of this season

NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

“No risk it, no biscuit.”

It’s a philosophy that has been popularized by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and one that star wide receiver Chris Godwin has adopted.

Godwin is in his fourth NFL season. He broke out last year with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns to earn a Pro Bowl selection. One year later and at 24 years old, Godwin finds himself competing for a Super Bowl as the Bucs prepare to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa on Sunday. The biscuit of all biscuits.

But while Godwin has enjoyed a successful stint in Tampa, he is due to become a free agent at the end of this season, giving Sunday’s game added implications for the wide out. The Buccaneers must decide whether to use their one-year franchise tag on pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett or on Godwin. If he the Bucs decide not to use their tag, Godwin is projected to command about $18 million per year to be a No. 1 receiver.

This is where the New York Giants could enter the equation. Godwin brings a consistent and explosive playmaking ability that has long been missing from the Giants’ receiving corps.

But leaving Tampa means separating what Godwin himself called the “dynamic duo” of him and Mike Evans. In Godwin’s media availability on Monday, he said that Tampa’s receiving corps (which includes Godwin, Evans and Antonio Brown) is unmatched in the NFL. Though Godwin and Evans’ numbers are down from last year, Godwin said that he considers this season to be more of a success.

“I think if you ask any receiver, ‘Would you prefer increased production or playing in a Super Bowl?,’ I think the majority of them would say playing for a Super Bowl because that’s what’s important,” Godwin said. “I know for myself and Mike, we’d much rather take the Super Bowl any day.”

Evans recently became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons.

“I don’t know if I could say enough about Mike. I’ve been so honored to play beside him and learn from him these last four years. As much as beast he is on the field, he’s a greater person off the field...It helps teach you about the bigger picture.”

Playing with Tom Brady has also only helped to make Godwin a stronger player.

“His brain is second to none,” Godwin said. “It’s so interesting to me watching him process all of that information in his head. There’s situations where he talks about plays they ran seven years ago in New England...Watching him operate at the line of scrimmage and then seeing those plays work, clearly this guy knows exactly what he’s doing so I’m going to roll with that.”

Godwin saw his role increase last season as he shifted to playing slot receiver. He said that he had to adjust his understanding of where guys are coming from on the field. Particularly in Arians’ offense, there is a lot of emphasis placed on the slot receiver in both the run game and passing game.

“Last season, I felt fortunate to be able to step into a bigger role,” Godwin said. “I had never played in the slot before, so that was a little bit of a question for me in terms of just having a better feel. But I always have a ton of confidence in myself.”

Godwin said that having the chance to work with 82-year-old Tom Moore has further helped him develop his abilities as a receiver.

“I make it a point to spend some time with him and try to pick his brain a little bit,” Godwin said. “It’s so impressive at his age that he’s here every day being observant and helping young guys. We’re so young that we all just have so much respect for what Coach Moore has been through. Just hearing the guys that he’s coached and the success that he’s had, you have no choice but to respect that and lean into his knowledge. It’s really been a blessing to have him here.”

In the midst of his growing success in the league, Godwin emphasizes the importance of staying level-headed and keeping perspective.

“I’m very much the person that I keep my head down and work and I don’t focus on the numbers until after I’m done because I sometimes feel like it takes away from the task at hand. As a young guy in his third year, being All-Pro and being top-three in receiving in all of the major receiving categories, that’s such a blessing. Those are things that I dreamed about as a kid, being in the NFL and making those types of plays and putting up those types of numbers. But it’s even cooler now because this was the biggest dream I had as a kid was playing in the Super Bowl. To kind of have both of those in back-to-back years, I can’t even explain it.”

Though Godwin’s future with the Bucs is uncertain, he is focused on doing what he can to win the final game of the season. His playoff debut against the Washington Football Team was shaky, as he recorded five drops. But he had strong performance in the NFC Championship game with 110 yards, including a 52-yard reception. He hopes to keep that momentum going on Sunday.

“At this point, all of those things are out of my control,” Godwin said of his future in Tampa. “While all of those things are later down the road, I’m solely focused on the Super Bowl and trying to help my team bring this home. I’m not going to let anything else steer my focus away from anything but that.”