The Detroit Lions had one of the league’s top passing attacks in 2022, but will start the 2023 season short-handed due to the suspension of second-year receiver Jameson Williams.
There could be another option for the Lions thanks to a stick situation in the NFC South, however. Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson named the Lions as a top potential landing spot for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who expressed his desire for a new deal but set a looming deadline to sign one.
If the two sides can’t reach an agreement before the start of the season, Evans will be playing out the final year of his contract and could become a trade candidate for the Buccaneers. Robinson wrote that the Lions could be one of the top suitors should the four-time Pro Bowler hit the trade block.
Lions May Need Another Receiving Option
As Robinson wrote, the Lions could use a proven second option next to top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, and may be able to find it in Evans.
“Amon-Ra St. Brown remains Detroit’s WR1, but rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Sam LaPorta might profile as the club’s next-best options in the passing attack,” Robinson wrote. “With Jameson Williams suspended for the first six games of the season, the Lions’ other pass catchers are Josh Reynolds, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kalif Raymond.”
Robinson noted that the Lions were not active in the trade market for top-flight wide receivers, staying mostly out of the chase for DeAndre Hopkins and making a deal for former New York Jets receiver Denzel Mims before releasing him prior to the final roster deadline.
The Lions could make an exception for Evans, Robinson wrote.
“Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson probably could have been a head coach this offseason had he wanted to be, but this might be his final season in Detroit,” he wrote. “If the Lions want to make the most of Johnson’s outstanding work, they could fill out his unit by adding a dominant force like Evans.”
Mike Evans Ready to Play, But Faces Uncertain Future
As ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported on September 1, Evans’ representation sent a message to the Buccaneers letting them know that negotiations on a new contract would cease on September 9, one day before the team’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Evans made it clear that he would not be holding out, but still faced an uncertain future with the team that landed him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
“I want to be in camp and practice to help Baker [Mayfield] get ready so we can win this year,” Evans said in a statement. “I don’t want to be a hold out and hurt our team.”
Evans’ agency released a statement putting some pressure on the organization, saying he stands ready to make a deal.
“We have been working on extending Mike’s career with the Bucs for over a year, and we want the fans to know this is not a tactic and the ball is in the owner’s court,” the agency said. “That said, we are giving the Bucs until the start of the regular season to make him a Buc for Life, and if that cannot happen, 100 percent of Mike’s focus will be on football and his future and where he can continue to make an impact.”