Why Chris Godwin Will Return to being one of the Best Slot WRs in the NFL

Godwin will keep it rolling this year.

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Through his four seasons in the NFL, Chris Godwin has been one of the best slot receivers in the game. His unique blend of size and speed allow him to line up in a variety of ways in an offensive formation, but he lined up in the slot for 52 percent of his snaps last season. In this position, he is an extremely difficult match-up for opposing defenders, and his steady production proves it.

The Tampa Bay Bucs are strong believers in his abilities, assigning him the franchise tag this offseason worth just under 16 million dollars. They did not come to an agreement on a long-term deal, but that was likely due to the unknowns surrounding the salary cap moving forward. Regardless, he will be making the 15th most money this year for any wide receiver, and will likely get his long-term contract next offseason.

Consistency has been a staple in the young career of Godwin. He generates solid and steady output, with his numbers providing good reason to be optimistic about his future. Let’s examine his young career so far to demonstrate why he will return to being one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.

2017 Season

After being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft out of Penn State, Godwin would put together a respectable rookie campaign with the Bucs. Suiting up for all 16 games, he caught 34 passes for 525 yards and a touchdown. He showed great ability to get big chunks of yardage, as demonstrated by his 15.4 yards per reception average, including a long of 70 yards.

2018 Season

His second season in the league was better than the first. He again played in all 16 games, but this time recorded 59 receptions for 842 yards and 7 touchdowns. He continued to show big-play ability with 14.3 yards per reception.

2019 Season

Godwin put together the best season of his career in his third year in the league. He broke out in a big way 86 receptions for 1333 yards and 9 touchdowns. He achieved the highest yards per reception for any season with 15.5 and recorded the longest reception of his career of 71 yards. What makes these totals even more impressive is that he missed two games that season, so if he played the full 16 games they would have been even higher.

2020 Season

Unfortunately, Godwin missed four games this past season, but he was extremely productive in the 12 games that he did play. He accounted for 65 receptions for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns. Considering the time missed, paired with the fact that the Bucs roster was filled with more competition for targets than it was in the past, makes this an excellent output for Godwin despite the lower overall totals compared to a year ago.

Looking Forward

Expectations are very high for Godwin this upcoming season, as they should be. He was a big part of the Bucs success last year and contributed to them winning the Super Bowl. Along with Mike Evans, he is a featured member of this offense who will receive a high share of the targets and figures to be in the team’s long-term plans, especially since he is still only 25 years old. The youth also indicates that he still has plenty of room to improve even further as a player.

At his peak performance, Godwin is among the very best slot receivers in the NFL. The list is short when looking at who is on his level, and he can justifiably be ranked as high as the top two with Tyreek Hill when defining a slot receiver as one who lines up in the position more than 50 percent of the time. His unique blend of talent and athletic ability will continue to be a problem for opposing defenses for many years to come.

the Chicago Bears are top NFC Super Bowl Sleepers in 2021

In the blink of an eye, the Chicago Bears have flipped their chances in 2021, and not just because they landed QB Justin Fields.

A few short months ago I was writing articles about general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy’s impending firings, so I understand as well as anyone that a Chicago Bears Super Bowl run sounds a bit farfetched right now, but NFL franchises often flip the script overnight in this league and it can all start with one move.

Now I know I just finished saying that Chicago’s chances aren’t reliant on Fields’ immediate stardom, and they’re not, but his potential as a generational quarterback talent is certainly the conductor of the hype train.

Truth is, I have been against this regime for quite some time. The trade up for the unproven Mitchell Trubisky, the horrid playcalling by Nagy that seemed to stunt the growth of not only Trubisky but running back David Montgomery, the indecision at QB and the miserable ideas to bring in Nick Foles and Andy Dalton as “saviors” when every NFL fan under the sun knows that these veterans are no more than underwhelming game managers. Yes, I know Foles won a Super Bowl, but that Philadelphia Eagles roster was built like a tank and this Bears one is not.

It’s been a tough road for Bears fans ever since Vic Fangio’s defense (led by Khalil Mack) shattered expectations in 2018. Not tough like 1-15 record tough, but more “what could have been” tough. The knowledge that your putrid offense is holding back and possibly wasting a championship caliber defense is difficult to stomach (especially when you traded a ton of your future draft capital for the catalyst of that unit in Mack).

This defense has a window, and that window is closing fast. Mack is under contract till 2025, but his cap hit is exorbitant after 2021 (unless Chicago takes the potential out next offseason at a $24 million dollar hit). That 2018 group has already seen losses like Fangio (DC), Kyle Fuller (CB1), Adrian Amos (S), Prince Amukamara (CB2, age caught up fast here), Bryce Callahan (slot), Leonard Floyd (edge) and more. Mack’s departure could be the final nail in the coffin, sealing that window for good.

The emergence of a unique prospect like Fields at QB gives Chicago a shot in 2021, but there are a few other factors that have a Jets fan like me all aboard the Bears bandwagon.

1. NFC in Decline

With Drew Brees retiring, the NFC East in total dissarray, Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay, and the NFC West all beating up on eachother, there aren’t many Super Bowl favorites in the NFC outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In what has become a conference shift in strength, we now see a lot of the bright young quarterbacks in the AFC (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield and Deshaun Watson should he return to Houston) while the NFC is left wanting.

An Aaron Rodgers trade to a franchise like the Denver Broncos could totally blow the doors off this conversation. Not only that, it would leave a gaping hole in the NFC North with the Detroit Lions rebuilding and the Minnesota Vikings as a playoff bubble team at best. The Green Bay Packers are one of the NFC’s (and Bears’) strongest competitors left, and if there’s any truth to the rumors, that Cheesehead locomotive may have already flown off the tracks.

2. Phenomenal ’21 Draft

We all know about the Justin Fields selection, but the Bears 2021 draft went much further than that. Pace was drafting like his job was on the line and he answered the bell with some really solid picks.

Just after trading up to get the franchise QB, Pace was able to nab the left tackle to pair with him for years to come, in Teven Jenkins. Many thought the Oklahoma State Cowboys 6’6″ tackle would go in the first, but he slipped to day two and the Bears did not hesitate. Later on he bulked the offensive line again, drafting upside guard prospect Larry Borom out of Missouri.

One trouble area may be cornerback with Fuller gone, but sixth rounder Thomas Graham Jr. had sleeper grades from many analysts out of Oregon. The former Duck could help fill the void, but Chicago will also need something from 2020 second rounder Jaylon Johnson (just turned 22 in April), and free agent flier Desmond Trufant.

3. Key Vets Returning After 2020 Season

I wasn’t particularly high on the 2020 Bears defense, in part because I knew the offense would struggle, but also because some instrumental pieces were missing.

One major cog to account for was nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a 2020 COVID opt-out. Goldman had 40-plus tackles in 2017 and ’18 as one of the premier run-stuffers in the game. 2021 is only his age-27 season, so Chicago will count on the DT to return with avengeance after a year on the pine.

Alongside Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, this unit is still very formidable up front. The linebacker core also flaunts Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan in the middle, with free safety Eddie Jackson over the top. LB Christian Jones joins this crew, and they’ll also look to re-sign or replace strong safety Tash Gipson before preseason begins. Gipson started all 16 games with the Bears a season ago, and is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Let’s not forget the offensive side of the ball, as Pace held onto wide receiver Allen Robinson for dear life. New faces like Damien Williams, Damiere Byrd, Dazz Newsome, Khalil Herbert and Marquise Goodwin add some versatility to a group that needs to get more creative behind Fields and Nagy.

This defense may be slightly diminished from 2018, but it’s still pretty darn good, and this offense could theoretically become much more dynamic with a quarterback like Fields at the helm. Am I slightly worried that Nagy may just be a terrible coach? Absolutely. This is a make or break season for the HC though, so I expect him to pull out all the stops.

At the very least, I see the Bears as a playoff team again in 2021, but at +4800 odds right now on FanDuel Sportsbook, Chicago may just be the biggest sleeper pick to win Super Bowl LVI.

Pros and Cons For Panthers Drafting a QB in round one

After trading for Darnold, should Carolina double-down at QB?

by Michael Obermuller

Just one season into a three-year deal with Teddy Bridgewater, the Carolina Panthers have traded three draft picks (including a 2022 second rounder) for Sam Darnold. This time, Matt Rhule and Joe Brady finally got their quarterback of the future — or did they?

From multiple reports, the Panthers may not be totally “out” on drafting a QB just yet. General manager Scott Fitterer knows just how crucial it is to get this position right, and he’ll bring in as many players as it takes to do it. Darnold is the presumed starter based on potential as of now, but statistically, he was far less efficient than Bridgewater in 2020.

QB, Year (Team)Games StartedCompletion %Yards/GameTDsINTsRating
Sam Darnold, 2020 (Jets)1259.6%184.091172.7
Teddy Bridgewater, 2020 (Panthers)1569.1%248.9151192.1

Of course, Darnold was in Adam Gase’s system last season, a system that many blame for his failures, but maybe neither signal-caller deserves the job outright after a combined record of 6-21 a few months ago.

That’s Carolina’s mindset, but should they sacrifice even more draft capital and cap space on the position when they’ve already used so much? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Panthers drafting another QB in 2021.

Cases FOR Drafting a QB

  • The Player they Want Most is Available at No. 8 Overall
    • The word around the NFL is that Carolina wants Justin Fields, and their scouting would certainly back that up. Based on Albert Breer’s tweet above, the Panthers have shown heavy attendance at both of Fields’ two Pro Day events.
    • This would also make sense in concurrence with the Darnold trade. Supposedly, the Panthers previously tried to move up to either second or third overall, but the New York Jets decided not to budge from two, and the San Francisco 49ers beat them to the punch at three.
    • Reports have the Panthers less high on Mac Jones and Trey Lance, so the Darnold deal may have been insurance in the event that Fields is gone at eight. If a QB you LOVE is still on the board, you draft him, that’s Football 101 (especially if there’s no QB prospect you like in 2022).
  • Potential Ceiling
    • Every team evaluates players differently. For example, the New York Jets new braintrust clearly evaluated Darnold differently than the Carolina Panthers, being that they believe a rookie has a higher ceiling than the former third overall pick in 2018.
    • Having said that, Carolina would not have traded for Darnold unless they thought he had more potential than Bridgewater. They should only consider drafting a QB if they truly believe he has a higher potential than both Sam and Teddy.
    • The stats above could support this theory alone, but it’ll also have to do with age, dual-threat ability, scheme fit, mentality and different raw skills like arm strength. A prospect like Fields would beat out the two veterans in almost every measurable category.
  • Can Never Have Enough QBs
    • This is the “multiple darts” argument, but it’s unlikely that Carolina would ever enter the 2021 season with three quarterbacks.
    • They could draft a QB at eight, then trade Bridgewater to a team like the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, or New England Patriots.

Case AGAINST Drafting a QB

  • Top QBs Are Gone Early
    • I know, duh, but I’m including this to point out that Carolina CANNOT and SHOULD NOT trade up for a quarterback. They already gave up three picks to get Darnold, and this rebuilding franchise still needs help elsewhere if they plan on succeeding long-term.
    • Most draft analysts have all five of the main QB prospects being drafted in the top 10, and some have them going one through five (or at least top seven). This may be out of the Panthers hands.
  • Darnold’s Upside
    • Although Bridgewater could theoretically outplay Darnold, I don’t think there’s an argument to keep Teddy over a rookie past 2022, so let’s focus on Sam here.
    • The latest NYJ disappointment is just 24 years old in June, and he’s had an odd start to his career. Whether due to injury or his baffling bout with mono, Darnold has yet to play a full season. This could be looked at as a con for the USC product, or it could mean that the best is yet to come.
  • Change of Scenery Could “Unlock” Darnold
    • The Jets also didn’t do Darnold any favors, hiring Gase to mentor him after one failed campaign with Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates. Panthers OC Joe Brady is considered to be one of the brightest young minds in the game, which could act as a catalyst for Sam.
    • A skill-position core of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and David Moore also trumps anything the Jets ever armed Darnold with.
    • Even offensive line play was better in Carolina last season. Darnold had a pressure percentage of 27.3 compared to Bridgewater’s 19.8. Sam was also hit the same amount of times (38) as Teddy in three less starts, and was actually hurried once more than him despite the difference in games.
  • Available Cap Space & Draft Capital vs. Roster Needs
    • As I just pointed out, the Jets never put a quality roster around Darnold, so would it be wise for Carolina to do the same, even if they start a rookie QB?
    • Bridgewater currently has a cap hit of $22.9 million-plus this year ($20 million dead cap hit), and Darnold has a hit of $4.77 million. They have ALREADY picked up Sam’s fifth year option for 2022, which is another $18.85 million, and assuming they cannot deal Teddy, they’ll incure a $5 million dead cap hit when they release him next offseason. An eighth overall pick would add about $3.75 million this year and $4.7 million in 2022.
    • After the Darnold trade, the Panthers have seven draft picks in 2021, and five picks in 2022.
    • Carolina’s defense ranked 18th in points allowed last season. Their offensive line also ranked 18th according to Pro Football Focus. They even lost playmakers like Curtis Samuel and Mike Davis this offseason. They cannot afford to spend $31 million-plus and four total draft picks (including a first and second) on three QBs in 2021 when this roster is far from perfect.

The Verdict

I think it’s pretty obvious that the Panthers should give Darnold the opportunity in 2021. For better or for worse, they made their bed when they pounced on the Jets trade proposal. The only way they draft a QB is if they find a second trade partner for Bridgewater, which is possible, but I doubt they get much back in this scenario (besides cap relief). With the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers set up to be the powerhouse of the division for at least one more season, it’s probably smarter to add another layer of foundation around the quarterback position this draft. Then, after seeing what you have in Darnold, you can re-evaluate the situation in 2022.

3 Potential Trade Destinations for Michael Gallup

Will Michael Gallup Be Traded?

Written By Benedetto Vitale – Twitter (@TalksVitale)

With the offseason rumors and trade projections in full force, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup becomes the next possible trade target in the NFL. Gallup didn’t have the most spectacular 2020 season. He finished with 59 receptions, 843 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. 

He seemed to get lost in the mix of the Cowboys offense after Dak Prescott fell to injury. However, there’s reason to believe he bounces back next year as a legitimate wideout option. Gallup is only 24 years old with plenty of time left in his career. Finding a new home may just be exactly what he needs to bounce back. 

By: Jack Kurzenknabe

Considering the state of this Cowboys franchise, trading Gallup away seems to make sense. The defense was one of the worst last year and the offensive line has been depleted over the years. The front office should be aiming to strengthen up the rest of the roster by trading away Michael Gallup for a draft pick. 

Dink Kearney, a writer for Fansided tends to agree, stating, “Another reason Dallas should trade Gallup is that he’ll easily fetch a second-round pick or a third-round pick right now. In a pass-happy league, general managers are salivating for talented, acrobatic, big-play receivers like Gallup.” With that said, here are three potential trade destinations for Michael Gallup. 

Gallup to the Green Bay Packers?

The first on the list is the Green Bay Packers. This would be a dream scenario for Gallup and fantasy players alike. The Packers already have one of the best offenses in the league, however, finding another receiver would bode well for their success next year. 

Gallup is a deep ball threat and would serve as a fantastic WR2 behind Devonte Adams. His abilities as a receiver would bring a different weapon to the Packers’ offense. They were hoping for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to be a solid WR2, but it didn’t seem to pan out. Gallup would step in immediately and fill that void missing in 2020. 

In an article on SB Nation, they mention the Packers current state of receivers, stating, “The Packers currently have no wide receivers under contract for 2022.” This is a problem for the future of this franchise. Trading for Gallup makes sense, as he’s still on his rookie contract, and would become a potential re-sign beyond 2022. Making this an incredibly smart decision for this front office. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Trade for Gallup?

Having just come off a Super Bowl victory, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aim to reload and shoot for a championship again. With an already impressive roster, the Bucs may be able to convince some players to sign cheap one-year deals to improve the roster. However, trading for Michael Gallup could be a power move most of the league doesn’t see coming. 

With Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown hitting the free-agent market, it’s not likely the front office will be able to bring back both of them. Chet Gresham, a writer for Draft Kings explains the likelihood of Godwin re-signing with the Bucs. He claims, “Chris Godwin is entering unrestricted free agency and is viewed as one of the Bucs’ most valued offensive weapons.”

If Tampa Bay re-signs Godwin, then turns around and trades for Gallup, they’d be setting themselves up for years to come. Plus, they’d have another weapon for Tom Brady as well. Additionally, with Gallup’s rookie contract, the Bucs would still be able to afford to sign other players to the roster as well. The Bucs have a chance to put their roster over the top for 2021. 

Gallup Plays for the New England Patriots?

The New England Patriots have one of the worst wide receiver groups in the league. Although, Jakobi Meyers was a bright spot in the second half of the year. Due to their lack of depth, expect to see some new faces on the Patriots next year. 

It’s possible the Patriots draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. For that reason, they may miss out on one of the top receivers available. Furthermore, New England isn’t a desirable destination anymore. It’ll be difficult for this franchise to acquire top talent in free agency, which means they should make a move for Michael Gallup in a trade. 

Gallup would immediately become the WR1 for this franchise if a trade comes to fruition. Meyer’s played well, but he may play better with a more talented wide receiver on the field with him. Also, with the likes of Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene developing next year, acquiring Gallup could prove to be a fantastic pick-up for this franchise. 

Andrew Erickson, a writer for PFF, dives further into New England’s need for a WR. He states, “This is a dire area of need for this team, with former first-round pick N’Keal Harry looking like a bust in his first two seasons and Julian Edelman entering his age-35 season.” Look for the Patriots to possibly make a move this offseason as Bill Belichick aims to get the franchise back on track. 

Top 3 QB Targets for the Buccaneers: Who Will be Tom Brady’s Heir

Should The Bucs Draft, Sign, or Trade for Brady’s Replacement?

Written By: Benedetto Vitale – Twitter (TalksVitale)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are fresh off of a Super Bowl win and the offseason is officially underway. The front office will do its best to maintain the roster that just won the championship, while also reloading the team with new talent. 

Tom Brady’s age is no secret across the NFL world. He’s well into his mid-40s now, making him the oldest player in the league. It sounds like Brady will be playing one more year, as he attempts to secure an eighth Super Bowl title under his belt. 

With that said, the Buccaneers need to consider finding Brady’s heir sooner, rather than later. This would give Tampa Bay a huge advantage in terms of depth. Once Brady leaves, the front office will have to find his replacement. So why not do it this year?

There are three routes the front office could choose to go. First, they could elect a rookie quarterback in the NFL draft this offseason. With a ton of talented QBs this year, it’s possible the Bucs select a stud to replace Brady. Second, they could look towards the free-agent market, possibly giving another NFL quarterback to redeem himself. And lastly, the front office could choose to trade for a QB to sit and learn behind Brady for one year. 

Here are three potential quarterbacks that could be Tom Brady’s heir for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Does Mac Jones Get Drafted by Tampa Bay?

As we approach the NFL draft, the Tampa Bay front office will have to decide if selecting a QB is the right approach. Mac Jones is projected to go anywhere within the late first-round through the mid-second round. So if the Bucs believe Jones can be that guy, they’re likely to use their first-round pick to select him. 

In Chris Trapasso’s article for CBS Sports, he explains Jones’ current draft stock. He claims, “Could Jones land on a good team late in round one, sit for a season, and ultimately become a successful passer? Yes. But he’s going to need a lot of assets around him.”

With that said, the Buccaneers’ offense would be a perfect situation for the former Alabama quarterback. The offense is loaded with talent, and the offensive line should be much more improved by the time Mac Jones takes over as the starter. Considering how good he was at getting the ball to DeVonta Smith, Jones could thrive throwing deep to Mike Evans in the NFL.

Mitchell Trubisky Signs with the Bucs?

Another route the Bucs front office could go is signing a free agent QB like Mitchell Trubisky. I know he’s not the hottest name, but there’s a possibility he lands with the Buccaneers to learn for a year. This may become the new thing for struggling quarterbacks in the league, as we witnessed Jameis Winston do the same at the New Orleans Saints.

Luckily for Trubisky, the 2020 season wasn’t the worst by any means. Tommy Garrett, an author for Pro Football Network explains by saying, “While he did end the season on a higher note, it’s uncertain if it was enough to keep him in the Windy City.” Although this is true, there should still be a market for Trubisky this offseason. 

This would be the best-case scenario for Trubisy’s career. He would have the privilege of sitting behind the best QB in football for a year, learning and adapting, and possibly getting his career back on track. 

Furthermore, Trubisky seems to play better when moving around in the backfield, whether that’s from bootlegs, or keeping the play alive with his legs. The Buccaneers offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, is a smart OC that could design an offense suitable for Trubisky. Buccaneers fans may not love this idea, but it’d be worth a shot after Brady’s retirement. 

The Buccaneers Trade for Sam Darnold?

The final option for the Bucs replacement for Brady could be Sam Darnold. Another name that’s not too exciting, but hear me out. Most of Darnold’s struggles this year aren’t fully on him. Since being drafted to the New York Jets, the front office hasn’t built a supporting cast around him to help him succeed. 

For Darnold, finding a new home is likely best for his career. Furthermore, he’s only 23 years old, meaning he still has some time to figure it out at the pro level. Playing behind Brady for a year could be detrimental to Darnold’s career, and could rejuvenize him completely. 

Additionally, Darnold comes at a cheap price the Bucs could afford. Adam Wells, a writer for Bleacher Report proclaims, “Darnold is under contract for at least one more season, though the team has until May fourth to decide if it will exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie deal for 2022.” That’s a deal that won’t break the Bucs bank, giving them enough cap space to maintain their talented roster. 

Darnold has shown flashes of brilliancy. Taking a year off and learning may be exactly what he needs. If this trade comes to fruition, there is a possibility the Buccaneers steal Darnold away, then continue to have a legitimate career for them.

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