Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers.

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting used to the slights at this point  — both real and perceived.

Even when they do get credit, sometimes it still stings a little bit.

PFF’s Trevor Sikkema recently put the Buccaneers at No. 11 out of 32 teams in his preseason rankings of NFL wide receiver groups — just one spot outside the Top 10 and the highest out of any of the four teams in the NFC South.

The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers took the No. 1 spot.

“Despite their ages, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still Mike Evans and Chris Godwin,” Sikkema wrote. “Over the past three seasons, they have earned cumulative receiving grades of 82.3 and 83.9, respectively. Both finished with receiving grades above 78.0 last season, as well. Throw in running backs Rachaad White and Bucky Irving, who should both bring plus ability in the passing game, and young receivers Trey Palmer and Jalen McMillan, and there is a good group in Tampa Bay.”

Buccaneers Pretty Average Throwing Ball in 2023

While Evans and Godwin are definitely a Top 10 wide receiver duo, the wide receivers and tight ends units as a whole were pretty average in 2023.

The Buccaneers ranked No. 18 in the NFL in passing yards (4,044) and were No. 10 in passing touchdowns (28) in 2023 as free-agent signee Baker Mayfield took over for Tom Brady.

While Evans led Tampa Bay with 1,255 receiving yards with his NFL record 10th consecutive season over 1,000 receiving yards, Godwin also had his third consecutive season over 1,000 receiving yards with 83 receptions for 1,024 yards.

After that, there’s a pretty steep dropoff. Running back Rachaad White was third on the team with 549 receiving yards, tight end Cade Otton fourth with 455 receiving yards then wide receiver Trey Palmer fifth with 39 receptions for 385 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

Buccaneers Air Attack Could Change in 2024

Tampa Bay has spent big on wide receivers in recent years. Evans signed a 2-year, $52 million contract in March 2024 and Godwin is in the final year of a 3-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2022 season. They also spent big on Mayfield, giving him a 3-year, $100 million contract following the 2023 season.

While Evans and Godwin are reliable mainstays, a third, electric option could add a new dynamic in 2024 after the Buccaneers spent a third-round pick (No. 92 overall) in the 2024 NFL draft on McMillan.

McMillan projects as a player who could have production levels similar to Godwin pretty quickly — they are both similarly sized and both thrive in the slot.

Godwin had 34 receptions for 525 receiving yards and 1 touchdown as a rookie after the Buccaneers selected him in the third round (No. 82 overall) in the 2017 NFL draft — numbers that jumped up to 59 receptions for 842 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 2018 and 86 receptions for 1,333 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 2019 as he was named NFL All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl.

Going back even further, Goodwin and McMillan both had their lone seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards as sophomores — Goodwin had 69 receptions for 1,101 yards and 5 touchdowns at Penn State in 2015 and McMillan had 79 receptions for 1,098 yards and 9 touchdowns at Washington in 2022.

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