The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at the top of the world after winning their second Super Bowl title. They also return all 24 postseason starters for the upcoming 2021 NFL season. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the team under the most pressure in 2021. But, more specifically, they have players on their team who are facing a significant amount of pressure in the upcoming season. There will always be an expectation that elite players like quarterback Tom Brady, perform, but four Bucs players have to make this 2021 season their best yet since they are all in a contract year. Here are the four Buccaneers players in contract years and under pressure to perform in 2021.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Players in Contract Years and Under Pressure to Perform in 2021
Chris Godwin – Wide Receiver
The duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin continues to be dynamic for Tampa Bay. After missing out on the Pro Bowl but helping the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl (though did not put up big numbers in the Super Bowl), there have been discussions that Godwin wants to be a number one receiver. And he is on the verge of being one of the top free agents next off-season. The Buccaneers decided to franchise tag Godwin for $15.9 million. If Godwin can replicate his 2019 season where he had 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns, he could see a big payday in Tampa Bay or somewhere else next off-season.
O.J. Howard – Tight End
The former first-round pick started his NFL career strong in his first two years. In those first two years, O. J. Howard caught 60 receptions for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns. Since then, Howard has suffered some injuries and been inconsistent. He suffered a torn Achilles in Week 4 last season. Howard is currently in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. This season will be a measurement for Howard as this may be his last chance to prove he is a quality starting tight end. He has the skill and the potential, but his struggles to remain healthy have been a problem in his career. In 2021 Howard needs to show he can remain healthy and consistently produce at a high level.
Carlton Davis – Cornerback
Carlton Davis has been a solid starting cornerback for the Buccaneers since they drafted him in the second round (63rd overall pick) in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his three years in the league, Davis has played in 41 games and started in 40 of them. He has accumulated 37 total pass breakups in the past two seasons. He is one of the Buccaneers most consistent corners in man and zone coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Davis has a 17.3% incompletion percentage the past two seasons. Davis is playing in the last year of his four-year, $4.3 million rookie contract and is well beyond due for an extension. He can use this year to play like one of the top defensive backs in the NFC South, make his first Pro Bowl, and be rewarded with a nice payday next off-season.
Jason Pierre-Paul – Defensive End
The Buccaneers veteran defensive end continues to be impressive going into his 12th year in the league. Last season, Jason Pierre-Paul accounted for 55 total tackles (34 solo), 14 quarterbacks hits, 9.5 sacks, and seven tackles for loss in his second season as an outside linebacker. He is playing the last year of his two-year, $25 million contract. The Buccaneers could likely re-sign Pierre-Paul, but the duration and the value of his contact will depend upon his performance during the 2021 NFL season. He will be 33-years old this December. The best years of his career are possibly behind him. The Buccaneers drafted his backup and potential replacement in Joe Tryon with the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But with a productive 2021 season, Pierre-Paul could be re-signed by the Buccaneers or find a new team as a free agent next off-season.