Bucs franchise tag decision opens door for Steelers in a big way

Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tag Chris Godwin again, it leaves the door open for the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign Ryan Jensen in his free agency.

With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers increasingly likely to slap wide receiver Chris Godwin with the franchise tag again, it makes center Ryan Jensen signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers even more of a reality.

Tyler Dragon of USA TODAY reports Tampa Bay is expected to used the tag on Godwin again. While tagging a wide receiver in back-to-back years is a bad look, letting a top-10 wide receiver go to market is not advantageous, especially by the team who drafted him. Though bringing back Godwin makes sense, it also signifies that Jensen is all the more likely to walk in NFL free agency.

Jensen just completed a four-year deal worth $42 million with Tampa Bay. Given the dire situation of the Steelers’ failing offensive line, it makes sense for Pittsburgh to prioritize adding him with their robust cap situation. While the Buccaneers are in the black with nearly $21.3 million in cap space, Pittsburgh can totally outbid Tampa Bay for Jensen with almost $29.6 million to work with.

By tagging Godwin, it means Jensen will go to market and will be paid handsomely in free agency.

Buccaneers tagging Chris Godwin again may get Ryan Jensen to the Steelers

There are plenty of upsides to adding a marquee player like Jensen in free agency. He was a huge part of arguably the best offensive line in football the last two years with Tampa Bay. Jensen got better by snapping the ball to Tom Brady. He not only earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season with the Buccaneers, but became a Super Bowl 55 champion with the 2020 Buccaneers squad.

Of course, there are downsides to paying him a ton of money in free agency. In all likelihood, Jensen and the rest of the Buccaneers offensive line was artificially inflated from playing with Brady. The team who drafted him (Baltimore Ravens) let him walk. It looks like the Buccaneers are poised to do the same by prioritizing keeping Godwin over him. He will be paid a premium as well.

While the Steelers have plenty of cap space to address some key issues on their roster, it is critical that they spend their money wisely. This will be the last free agency period general manager Kevin Colbert will oversee before he retires. Though the Steelers will hire the right guy to succeed him, this is the most important offseason for the Steelers in well over a decade. They must get it right.

Even if the Buccaneers do let Jensen walk, the Steelers need to be cautious about overpaying him.

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