Chris Godwin is done for the season. The Pro Bowl wide receiver was seen writhing in pain after taking a brutal, but legal, hit in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ shutout loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and didn’t return to the game after finally being helped to his feet and limping off to the sideline. On Monday morning, it was reported he’d likely be done for the remainder of the regular season with what was initially believed to be an MCL sprain, but the news received on Monday afternoon paints a much darker fate.
Having undergone an MRI at some point during the day, it was discovered Godwin suffered a torn ACL that will not only end his regular season, but his season entirely (postseason included) — per head coach Bruce Arians.
It’s a massive blow to the WR unit in Tampa, considering he racked up 1,103 receiving yards and five touchdowns through the first 14 games of the season, having also not missed a single game this season and proved himself the team’s speed threat in their passing attack. Godwin is also nearing his career best in catch percentage of 77.4%, hauling in 77.2% of Brady’s targets to him while averaging 8.7 yards per target.
The news means the return of Antonio Brown from suspension will be met with an expectation to hit the ground running, and in a big way, considering Bruce Arians has walked back his veiled threat of parting ways with the controversial receiver for the “best interest of the team.” The loss to the Saints pushes the Buccaneers to No. 3 in the NFC playoff seeding, and if they want any shot at potentially stealing away the top seed, they can’t afford another loss before the postseason arrives.
What’s worse for the Buccaneers is that while All-Pro wideout Mike Evans will reportedly be OK going forward — per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network — after tweaking his hamstring against the Saints and eventually being ruled out himself, running back Leonard Fournette might also miss time. Fournette’s prognosis currently hovers around two games and, at minimum, might insert injured reserve into the conversation on him as well.
It’s possible Fournette escapes an IR designation and returns for either Week 17 against the New York Jets or the regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers, but several factors will play into that decision, likely including just how important that final game might (or might not) be to playoff seeding. That’s a TBD for Fournette, but Godwin is down for the count, suffering a devastating injury only three months before he is set to enter unrestricted free agency.