Rule No. 1 Is Simple: Pay Your Stars

December 17th, 2019

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Tampa Bay’s dynamic duo are on the shelf, giving NFL defensive backs a temporary respite from a season-long onslaught.

Mike Evans has been joined by Chris Godwin on the All-Hamstring list, leaving Jameis Winston short of proven downfield targets heading into Saturday’s home matchup against the Texans.

Although their season has been shortened, Godwin and Evans had enough time to establish themselves as the NFL’s premier receiving tandem.

There’s no debate about that distinction and they will be back next fall to terrorize defensive coordinators.

The 2019 Bucs have excelled in two areas — stopping the run and throwing to Evans and Godwin. Those are the dual team strengths that jump out on tape and on the stat sheet.

Godwin and Evans are both very good at their craft, but they are not the same … on the field or on the bottom line.

Evans was rewarded with a 5-year contract extension in 2018 that will keep him in pewter until at least 2024. He has reeled off six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since becoming Jason Licht’s initial draft selection as Buc GM in 2014.

Godwin’s base salary this season is $677,000 and he is slated to hit the free-agent market in 2021. That’s not going to happen. He’s too skilled and too determined to be great. Whatever it takes, the Glazers will pony up the cash to keep him in Tampa.

Licht’s “Astute” Pick

Together, they have been the key elements in the NFL’s No. 1 passing attack. And the best news of all? Evans is 26 and Godwin is the baby at 23. That means lots of dark days for NFC South cornerbacks in the years to come.

Chris Godwin photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In terms of production, Godwin is catching up to Evans … no mean feat.

He currently ranks second to the incomparable Michael Thomas with 1,333 receiving yards and is tied for second with 9 TD receptions. Godwin’s 25 catches of at least 20 yards is No. 1 in the league and 63 of his 86 catches have generated first downs.

Evans is fourth with 1,157 yards and his 17.3 average yards per catch ranks No. 1 for all players with at least 60 catches. He has seven receptions of at least 40 yards and 54 of his 67 grabs have resulted in a first down.

These two game-breakers have a chance to etch their names into the NFL history books as one of the premier wide receiver tandems this league has ever seen. Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich did a nice job of freeing them up against defenses that have little reason to respect Tampa Bay’s ground game.

Both Evans and Godwin bring a physicality to the position that Arians craves. Godwin is tougher to bring down, proven by his 574 yards after the catch, tops among all receivers.

Following the departure of Adam Humphries, the Bucs moved Godwin into the slot this year to capitalize on his ability to make difficult catches in traffic.

The results have been spectacular for the third-round pick out of Penn State, the 11th wide receiver chosen in the 2017 draft. All things considered, Godwin ranks as the most astute pick in Licht’s 6-year draft history.

Evans drops more balls than Godwin, but No. 13 is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. His career average of 80.7 yards per game ranks sixth all-time, well ahead of Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.

Entertainment Business

Mike Evans is on a Hall of Fame trajectory, says Ira Kaufman.

Keeping these two together for an extended period will be a financial challenge, but it’s a priority because this team is fun to watch. Godwin and Evans represent double trouble for defensive coordinators and they’ve only just begun under this new coaching staff.

The average salary for Evans under his new deal is $16.5 million, so that’s a fair ballpark figure for Godwin to pursue down the line. If that sounds like a lot of money, you’re correct, but we’re talking about a lot of receiver.

An added bonus for the organization is the fact neither Evans nor Godwin is a prima donna. They don’t mope or sulk when the ball doesn’t come their way and they’ve never been labeled as a diva.

Just call them special, two studs who dress side by side in the locker room and wear it well between the lines. You can bet Winston knows how fortunate he is to have targets this elite.

Despite their eventual impact on the salary cap, Godwin and Evans aren’t going anywhere. Together, they have made this a fun team to root for.

The Bucs are in the entertainment business and rule No. 1 is simple: pay your stars.

Soon, Godwin will have his hands out. When that happens, he rarely comes away empty.

Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the league and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at The Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.

52 Responses to “Rule No. 1 Is Simple: Pay Your Stars”

  1. LordCornelius Says:

    If we can lock in Godwin around $14-15 we should do it.

    $30M seems like a lot for 2 WR’s but top WR market = $18M and going up, and we aren’t paying much to our WR’s after that with Watson/Miller on rookie deals for a few more years. Maybe Perriman I guess.

  2. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    IF Jameis beats the Texans, w/o his 2 top receivers, we may not be able to sign him. Word is he is demanding a ton of Money already

  3. Tbbucs3 Says:

    I’d rather have a star defensive back than Mike Evans. 2 elite WRs is nice, but it’s Not necessary.

  4. 813bucboi Says:

    offer JW 2year deal 50mil guaranteed with a 3rd year option at 35mil….

    pay SHAQ
    pay JPP
    pay CG

    offer suh 1year 6mil with incentives
    offer nassib 3year deal 18mil 12 guaranteed
    offer minter vet min…
    offer ryan smith vet min….

    tell JW if he wants 30+mil per year, he shouldve made the playoffs on his rookie contract…he would have a leg to stand on…..another year watching the playoffs at home combined with leading the league in INTs equals 25mil per year…..

    if we continue to build the defense and add on OL pieces we wont need a 30+mil QB….ask nick foles….

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  5. 813bucboi Says:

    forgot perriman….

    re-sign him too….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  6. Uncle Says:

    I don’t believe a thing I hear about demands of salary of any player. All posturing and working angle before the negotiation.

  7. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Lots of us forget this once proud franchise was built on defense and RBs like Wilder, Dunn and Alstott. We have too many receivers and not enough Olinemen.

  8. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Evans and Godwin being shelved will provide a perfect excuse for why we lose this game. You can tell this is how it’s being setup. Although it’s imperative to have receivers who can get separation, what really sets the good ones apart from the others is their ability to make the tough circus catches consistently. This game Jameis’s accuracy will be tested against a better secondary like the Texans.

    Just don’t let VHIII get the pick. ..even worse pick6

  9. eric Says:

    Tbbucs3 Says:
    December 17th, 2019 at 11:47 am
    I’d rather have a star defensive back than Mike Evans. 2 elite WRs is nice, but it’s Not necessary.

    you comical with this non sense!

  10. LordCornelius Says:

    “You can tell this is how it’s being setup”

    So Evans / Godwin planned to have hamstring injuries lol

  11. Adrnagy Says:

    If …. Bucs win the last two games. Winstons play good not great and ends up leader in passing yards he will have a case of 30M a yr.

    Jameis will be looking for multi yr contract. Not one year prove it tag … are you seriously think jameis wants to “prove “ himself again after he wins passing yards leader

    Even without Evans. Godwin Bucs are favor to win against Texans. Why is that ? Defense ? RB? Not really … it’s jameis.

    Best case scenario is Bucs offer 3yr.

  12. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Wonderful – Great – Its FANtastic.

    The Bucs have the Dynamic Duo is WR’s with Evans and Godwin

    WHO’S going to get them the ball? Will the NFL leading TD & INT thrower be back? Do we want him back?

    Just saying

  13. Tbbucs3 Says:


    Every team in the NFL (that wins) has a star player in the defensive back field.

    But if you want to remain in this purgatory of being really good on offensive but your unable to stop opposing QBs then you don’t know how teams win in the NFL.

    The Vikings have Harrison Smith
    The Patriots have Stephon Gilmore
    The Ravens have Earl Thomas
    The Saints have Marcus Lattimore

    Goodluck trying to win giving up 30 points a game. If there’s a senario where we could trade Mike Evans for a guy like Jalen Ramsey I’m taking that 10 times out of 10.

  14. Allbuccedup Says:

    813bucbol all those players would cost over 90 mil we only have 93 mil we still need ten more players including draft picks.

  15. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Most Points Allowed In 2019
    Tampa Bay @ 30/32 with 28 PPG

    Most Points Allowed In 2018
    Tampa Bay ranked @ 30/32 with 29 PPG

    Thank god we got rid of Mike Smith, we’ve improved by a whole point!

  16. Adrnagy Says:

    Jameis 26
    Shaq 13
    Jpp 9
    Suh 9
    Nassib 6
    Allen 4
    Tanner/auclair 4

    71M-93M=22M left

    Still on the books.
    Beckwith 1m
    Justin Evans 1.6m

    Of course imo. But it’s very doable for licht magic.

  17. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    To that end, hopefully JBF brass will sign Hall of Fame Inductor Ira “don’t call me Irv” Kaufman to a long term, lucrative deal. Sure his courtesy rig went from an Escalade to a Focus…but he has been given an expense account at BWW and other fine perks.

  18. TexBuc Says:


    I remember those days of scoring maybe 15 point a game. With this offense we just need a middle ranked scoring defense and we will be competitive weekly.

  19. TexBuc Says:


    You can’t wait for Winston or the team to fail can you?

  20. Ndog Says:

    Hey Ira two points, thanks again for putting the full injury jinx on us including the two players you just wrote about. Also you forgot the biggest star that needs to get paid, you know the guy who gets them the ball and just threw for 450 without one of them and the other one for only a half. But yeah we know you want him gone cause he’s doesn’t win games all by himself. True sage I tell you …..

  21. JimmyJack Says:

    Thanks Adnargy……Nice to see the numbers and how we can afford all these guys.

    Think some of your number might be a bit low. One idea for extra money is to extend Jensen. Give him more guaranteed with a lower CAP hit this year. Good deal for all. Could also restructure Marpet to free up some space. You also got Brate who can free up another 6.

    Keeping this team together(mostly) is necessary and nice to see how feasible it is.

  22. JimmyJack Says:

    Winston must be signed long-term this year! Tag is not a option. If we wait another year the price will skyrocket.

    If it takes 30M do it. Get him locked up now while the gettins good!!!

  23. Ozziethesportsjunkie Says:

    Bucboi demolished the nail on the head like my thumb with a hammer after 13 cranberry douche bock ales …they build up enough on defense and get a RB with just a Brad Johnson-Like qb and they won’t need a 30 mil All or nothing 45 passes every week qb..if memory serves me worked once before around here …

  24. Smashsquatch Says:

    Trade Mike Evans this offseason. Yes, you heard me right. Godwin is a keeper and perfect fit in Arian’s offense. He’s Hines Ward and Larry Fitzgerald all in one. He blocks better than Evans and runs after the catch. Evans slides after the catch excellently. Evans trade value will never be higher and If Jason Licht can get a haul of picks in April he must pull the trigger. Evans seems to be an all or nothing receiver and this offense just feels more balanced without him. The TEs get more involved as do the RBs. Too many mouths to feed in this offense with him. The draft capital coupled with the much needed salary cap relief allows the Bucs to address other needs. As it stands, we’re already top heavy with contracts, having two tied up at WR is fools gold. Make it happen Jason, stop thinking short term.

  25. TruckerBuc Says:

    If you were to let anyone go, I’d let go of Godwin. LOVE the guy and would love to see him stay but he was a 3rd round pick and Licht has shown he knows a talented WR when he sees one. Let him walk and draft another if we need the cap space. Focus on retaining defensive talent where Licht struggles in draft.

  26. Adrnagy Says:

    Trade Evans …. you’re out of your mind. Evans makes things happen for offense. Double teams etc. where we lose is in the running game imo. I can’t remember a 30yd run. Or a draw for 10-15yds.

  27. bucsfan951 Says:

    gonna be hard to pay evans, godwin, winston, and our o line. somethings gotta give! this is why its important to draft players in core positions so they can work on that rookie deal. this is why i was for picking allen over white. licht has to make better choices than what he has been doing. gotta hit them with the 1,2 punch combo.

  28. Tampabaybucfan Says:


    You haven’t included the increased salary for Godwin…..surely we will redo his contract and he will make much more in 2020.

  29. Ndog Says:

    Hey Ozzie the 90’s called and they want their game plans back. But seriously man you want Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, OJ and Brate to play with a dude that can’t get them the ball or in a offense that throws out if 2/3 TE formations all day? Yeah that would go over well and yeah you are also forgetting that little fact that our defense back then wasn’t just good IT HAD 5 HOF CALIBER PLAYERS ON IT. What are the odds of us getting that again. Come on man live in reality. Learn the game then have fun watching the best offensive display we have ever seen and BTW also one of the top in the NFL all lead by the guy you don’t want here. It’s ok to be wrong but at some point you have to just admit it. Yeah and sorry I don’t want a flash in the pan shot at a championship I want a yearly contender and please show me one of those without a quality QB?

  30. Jmarkbuc Says:


    We had a yearly contender with Dungy…but fans, who had witnessed double digit losses for decades got impatient after a few winning seasons and wanted it all right now, like a child throwing a tantrum.

    So what we got was your flash in the pan with Gruden.

    If only BK had timed his jump just a little better…we’d be a dynasty on par with the Steelers, or at the very least a yearly they are, even with their third string QB.

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    813bucboi … Ndamukong Suh just called after receiving your 1-year, $6 mil offer. You disrespected him & he’s highly insulted. Not as insulted as JPP was after he received Adrnagy’s $9 mil offer, but insulted nonetheless. Oh and Jameis’ agent is still laughing at your 2-year $50 mil offer, and wants to know why he shouldn’t wait it out for a franchise tag at $27 mil this year & undoubtedly more next year. Jameis now has a new demand in his contract counter-offer … that the Bucs fire Jason Licht for disrespecting him too.

    But on the good news side, Beau Allen is super-excited about his $4 mil offer. Everyone else was convinced that Bucs wouldn’t re-sign him.

    And Smashsquatch, you’re exactly right that “we’re already top heavy with contracts”, although “having two tied up at WR is fools gold” may be part of the cost of keeping Jameis here. Unfortunately for you, trading Mike Evans like you proposed would be considered a capital offense here in Bucsville. Matter of fact, I’ll be surprised if Joe doesn’t permanently lock you in the ‘Awaiting Moderation’ dungeon for committing blasphemy like that.

    Other than that, welcome to the inconsequential (?) world of salary Cap management that Bucs’ management must face every day.

  32. Mr. Lucky Says:

    Now I KNOW that people are excited about the Bucs winning 4 in a row, I know I am. Ive actually seen some good progress but what I would really wonder is this – who believes that Winston will be here in 2020….How about a poll.

    Franchise tag vs. short-term contract vs. long-term deal.

    Now remember that he leads the NFL in INTs and turnovers… much are you willing to put up with?

  33. WestChap Says:

    So many moving pieces on the GM’s plate this offseason… thank goodness BA and team are at the head of the table! BA’s team has driven so much progress on all fronts: Culture (+Suh, -GMC, -DeSean, -Grimes), Talent (+Shaq, -Spence, -Benenoch, +White, +Dean, +SMB, +Gay) and Utilization (Godwin, Cappa, RoJo, Vea, Davis). We’ve had a few growing pains (VH3, Dotson, Smith, TE usage) but with $90M of cap space and key free agents everywhere the Bucs future will be driven for years by just a handful of decisions this offseason.

  34. LordCornelius Says:

    IMO realistic to high cap hits to keep these guys:

    Winston $30M
    Shaq $17M
    Godwin $16M
    JPP $12M
    Suh $8M
    Nassib $7M

    That’d about eat up all the cap to where we’d not be able to spend much elsewhere, but it seems like we could do this if we wanted.

    JPP at 30 years old coming off injuries with 3.5 sacks in 8 games is not going to bust the market open. $12M might be too high. Nassib has never been a double digit sack guy and more of your rotational pass rusher.

    Suh stats are down in general and he is older as well. Should not break the bank at all.

    If it were me I probably bring everyone back but Suh and and I draft a DT & OT first 2 rounds, with another DT & OT in the later rounds, plus a RB or 2. Then I’d use the Suh/other $$ on some veterans in the secondary.

  35. LordCornelius Says:

    I wouldn’t bring back either Suh or Nassib or JPP or combination of those* actually if that’s what it came down to. I just want JPP in the locker room mainly lol.

  36. Allbuccedup Says:

    JW 25, SB 16, CB 8, JPP 8, SUH 7, 6 mil left for 5 or 6 backups. Thats about 11 players you need at least nine more. That adds up to 70 mil. That leaves 23 mil for 7 draft picks and what positions needed to fill out roster. JWs worth hinges on the last two games, if he leads us to two wins he will probably will want more than 25 mil but he regresses the last two games 5 or 6 ints he probably will not deserve even 25 mil. Its all in his hands.

  37. 813bucboi Says:


    i guess you forgot the incentives part….lol….

    1year 6mil with incentives that can bring it up to 8mil….thats a good deal…he’s not what he used to be…he’s a run stuffing DT….

    and if he balks at the offer, cool, we should be drafting his replacement this year anyway….plus gholston has stepped up and played great at the DT spot…..

    if JWs agent laughs, licht should ask, how many playoffs has he taken us too?…..would be rather start all over with another team or build on what he, BA and BL have started?…..

    for a starter thats never won 10games, been to the playoffs and leads the league in INTs in a contract year, i think 2-year $50 mil guaranteed is a good deal…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  38. Allbuccedup Says:

    CB should have been CN( nassib).

  39. 813bucboi Says:


    i see you did some re-calculating…..

    changed your tune mighty fast……

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  40. Allbuccedup Says:

    Lord Cornelius thats only 6 players we need 19 to fill out the roster.

  41. Allbuccedup Says:

    813bucboi the way JW plays week to week is very confusing. I am sure thats whats going on in the front office

  42. Ndog Says:

    There best question for this team with no running game, average oline, an average at best defense and a downfield passing style offense who could do better or equal to Jameis?

    I say only Mahomes, Watson, Big Ben, and maybe Wilson or Murray.

  43. Allbuccedup Says:

    Cam Akers probably will be available in the 3rd round hes been running behind a bad o-line for 3 years at FSU he would fit in just fine.

  44. Buczilla Says:

    Cool article, but I have to disagree that Michael Thomas is incomparable. Both Mike and Chris are better than that guy. He’s good, no doubt, but c’mon man. 🤣

  45. Bucky23 Says:

    Did I miss Ira’s podcast?

  46. View from 132 Says:

    Rule #1? What?! Have you watched the Patriots since 2000?

    Rule #1s are:
    An accurate QB
    O-line and defense win games
    Attention to detail

    I love watching Godwin play, but a team with too much cap money on WRs will lose a lot of shootouts. Personally, I’d trade Evans.

  47. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Poor dead horse

    We have to beat it 813 more times

    pertaining to contract negotiations its all about comparisons

    Nick Foles 4 yr/88 is rock bottom

    Ceiling is going to be $38-40 mill by Mahomes this offseason

    Foles,Wentz,Goff, Prescott, Watson, Mahomes gets 4year deals and 5k JW3 and his agent is going to agree for 1 year and be happy?

    Winston vs Watson Saturday!”

    Kobe Faker

  48. Chesapeake Bucco Says:

    What do I hear? NOT re-sign Jameis!?!

  49. Issac haggins Says:

    You have to have a GM that can evaluate and sign people early on deals a little less than when they hit their stride !!

    Licht isn’t that guy !!

  50. Bill Macy Says:

    Draft two bad ass tackles and JMess throws way fewer Interceptions and RoJo breaks out. Add a solid vet DB to the now experienced rookies. Keep Suh and Vita in the middle as run stuffers. Add another young stud pass rusher to complement Shaq. Try to find some young DL studs with potential in later rounds for rotation. Keep JPP if the price is right but rotate him more often to keep him fresh. Other than two stud tackles the offense good as is. Defense is solid against the run. If the rookie DBs are for real next year and the O line improves we will be competitive. Those 2 or 3 very close games lost early on are the main reason we are out of the playoffs. Could easily be 9/5 right now and in the hunt.

  51. RODNEY ALLEN Says:

    No doubt we have to keep them two and Winston for that matter at the very least till a better qb comes along. Even with the ints I dont see any this year. Besides u cant expect no ints when u throw 40 to 50 times a game

  52. Crabberbill Says:

    Pay the man !!!