Chris Godwin’s play portends massive contract

Each week during the 2021 season, we’ll examine our NFL draft steal of the week — a younger player whose NFL success has surpassed where he was drafted. We’ll try to look back at the why and how of where they were selected and what we thought of that prospect prior to the draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6-foot-1, 201 pounds
2017 NFL draft: Round 3, No. 84 overall

Entering Week 13, Godwin stood only 11 catches shy of former Buccaneers receiver Mark Carrier to overtake the No. 3 spot on the franchise’s all-time receptions list. Given that Godwin had only caught that many passes or more in a game once, back in 2019, it figured to take him multiple weeks to reach that spot.

Scratch that. After Godwin caught five passes on the Bucs’ opening drive against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, it was clear he was in for a big day. So big, in fact, that Godwin broke a more impressive mark: most receptions by a Buccaneers player ever in a game with 15, breaking the previous mark of 13, held by former Bucs running backs Earnest Graham and James Wilder. 

“I really had no idea (about the record) until we walked off the field,” Godwin said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “And I thought it was around, like, 10 or so. I think some of those little quick hitters you kind of forget about, getting bounced around out there like a little pinball.”

Chris Godwin is having one of his best NFL seasons, right before he’s set to hit free agency in 2022. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Although Godwin didn’t catch any of Tom Brady’s four TD passes in the win at Atlanta, Godwin’s 143 yards also pushed him up the 2021 leaders board, ranking fifth in receptions (82) and seventh in receiving yards (949).

In his fifth year in the NFL, he’s established himself one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and become a favorite target of Brady, despite the Bucs’ wealth of options. That group, however, has thinned in recent weeks with injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, who also is currently…

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