Insider Drops Troubling Update on Buccaneers-Mike Evans Contract

Buccaneers' Mike Evans

Getty Buccaneers' Mike Evans

There was always the possibility things would go this way. The Buccaneers and wide receiver Mike Evans moved a step closer to a split on Monday, as it was reported that the sides missed a “soft” deadline on getting an extension done for the guy who might very well be the best player in franchise history. With no new deal in place, according to insider Jordan Schultz, the Buccaneers will take on $7.4 million in dead money next season.

That’s a bad sign, of course, but it is mostly an accounting problem at this point. The bigger problem, Schultz reports is that the sides remain “far apart” on a deal.

Here’s what Schultz wrote on Twitter/X: “The #Buccaneers had a soft deadline today to get an extension done with Pro Bowl WR Mike Evans, but both sides remain far apart, sources say. Tampa Bay is set to take on $7.4M in 2024 dead money by not getting a deal done today.  Talks will continue, but my understanding is Evans is trending toward becoming a free agent, barring an unexpected change in discussions.”

Buccaneers’ Mike Evans Has Been a Stalwart

Few players have symbolized the renewal of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a respectable organization in the last decade quite like Evans. Drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2014, Evans has played with a variety of quarterbacks, from Josh McCown and Jameis Winston to Tom Brady and, now, Baker Mayfield. And he has performed—Evans has racked up 10 straight seasons of 1,000 yards receiving, tied with Randy Moss for the second-most in history behind Jerry Rice.

Evans caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards as a rookie in 2014, and has 762 catches for 11,680 yards in his career. He has shown no signs of slowing down, even now at age 30. Evans had 79 catches for 1,255 yards this year and led the league with 13 receiving touchdowns.

It would be a tough pill to swallow for the Buccaneers to lost Evans, even though the organization is somewhat strapped for cap space and needs to fork out a big free-agency contract for quarterback Mayfield. Of course, Mayfield has made it clear that keeping Evans was one of the main things he’d hoped to see before he re-signs with Tampa.

Mayfield’s contract also voided on Monday, as did Antoine Winfield’s, though those were at significantly smaller numbers than that of Evans.

Still a Chance for a Return

The news on Evans’ contract is not entirely devastating—there is not much surprise that the two sides have not come together on a deal, seeing as they failed to get something done before the start of last season. But Evans is likely heading to free agency, where the terrain will be much more unpredictable for the Buccaneers.

As good as he has been, and as much of a professional as he has proven to be in an era of diva wide receivers, Evans may have grown tired of haggling with his organization and could simply seek to grab a big contract elsewhere, preferably with a contender.

Still, as Marcus Mosher of 33rd Team points out, a Bucs return is still the most sensible and most likely outcome here.

“Although they haven’t finalized an extension yet, the most obvious and likely landing spot for Evans is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And frankly, this is what should happen. He’s one of the best players in franchise history, and he helped the team win a Super Bowl in 2020. …

“The biggest question is whether Evans views the Buccaneers as a serious Super Bowl contender. If the answer is no, he might want a change in scenery. The team’s quarterback situation is also something to monitor. … Look for Evans to return to the Buccaneers in 2024 on a contract that will likely keep him in Tampa Bay for the remainder of his career.”

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