NFL insider: Buccaneers hopeful WR Chris Godwin returns for season opener

Luke Easterling
Bucs Wire

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a devastating loss with Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 15 last season.

Such a serious injury that late in the season typically impacts the player’s readiness for the following year, but there appears to be growing sentiment that Godwin could be back to full strength in time for the start of the 2022 campaign.

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ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the Bucs are "hopeful" Godwin will be ready for Week 1, noting that it’s “not out of the question” that he’s back in the lineup to start the year. 

Chris Godwin will be returning to the Buccaneers after receiving the franchise tag for the second straight year.

"They are hopeful that he’ll be ready for opening day," Schefter said of Bucs officials on NFL Live via WTSP sports director Evan Closky. "So that’s encouraging. They’ll chart him, monitor him, track him during the summer, see how he’s coming along. Obviously [they’re] not going to rush him back.

"Probably would be surprised if we saw him in any preseason games, and I think the goal will be to see if he’s ready for opening day, which I don’t think is out of the question right now."

Godwin led the Bucs in targets and receptions last year, and has established himself as one of the most complete pass-catchers in the entire NFL.

Despite the injury, Tampa Bay acknowledged Godwin’s importance to their roster with a new three-year contract extension back in March.

Tampa Bay signed Russell Gage to a three-year deal in free agency, but they would obviously prefer to allow the new addition to serve as their No. 3 receiver behind Godwin and fellow Pro Bowler Mike Evans.