Buccaneers Avoided Disastrous Move With $52 Million Star

Mike Evans

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are breathing a sigh of relief after the NFL was shaken up by a blockbuster trade involving a top-flight wide receiver.

After the Buffalo Bills traded NFL All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans on April 3, it became clear the Buccaneers made the right move by signing future Hall of Famer Mike Evans to a two-year, $52 million contract on March 4.

Signing Evans avoided letting one of their franchise legends slip away in free agency, where the Texans would have been potential suitors.

Evans grew up in Galveston, Texas, less than an hour south of Houston, and played college football at Texas A&M.

“The Houston Texans posed the biggest threat to Evans returning to Tampa Bay to continue his Hall of Fame career where it started,” wrote The Pewter Plank’s Josh Hill. “Watching the Texans trade for Diggs is all the proof Bucs fans need that Evans likely would have ended up in Houston had Tampa Bay not found a way to bring him back.”

Mike Evans Would Have Been Hot Commodity as Free Agent

The Texans weren’t the only team who would have gone after Evans, who set an NFL record with his 10th consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards in 2023.

Rumors had both the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs possibly making moves to get the five-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion.

“It looked almost certain that Evans would test free agency this year, and he would have done so against the backdrop of rumors circulating for months,” Hill wrote. “We all knew about the New York Jets inquiring about a trade and the Kansas City Chiefs were getting floated as a potential landing spot as well.”

The Buccaneers weren’t having it.

“(Evan) is one of the most humble superstars. … He’s all about team,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht told The NFL Network. “There’s not a single person in that locker room that doesn’t respect him, not a single person in this building that doesn’t respect him. He knows everybody, he treats everybody the same, he treats everybody with respect and all he wants to do is win. I couldn’t draw up a better teammate than Mike Evans, which is why this became very emotional in the thought of losing him would be very detrimental to this organization … I’m glad we don’t know what  … would have happened if we didn’t sign him before free agency started.

Mike Evans Part of Massive Free-Agent Haul for Bucs

Evans was one part of a massive offseason for the Buccaneers, who managed to bring back most of their nucleus with a series of deft moves — and with the 2024 NFL draft still on the horizon.

Tampa Bay also brought back potential free agents in quarterback Baker Mayfield, linebacker Lavonte David, kicker Chase McLaughlin and safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who will make $17.1 million on a one-year franchise tag in 2024.

“This is one of the greatest free agency hauls ever, but it’s our own guys,” Licht said. “We’ve got some Hall of Famers in here — Lavonte and Mike. It’s been incredible. I think it’s time that the national media realizes that we have some great players. They already know, but now they really know. It’s a great time for us.”



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