Buccaneers Predicted to Lose $82.5 Million Star to Bears

Mike Evans of the Buccaneers is predicted to leave in NFL free agency.

Getty Mike Evans of the Buccaneers is predicted to leave in NFL free agency.

When it comes to NFL free agency, few cases will be more interesting this offseason than Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who is 30 years old and coming off his 10th consecutive 1,000-yard season in Tampa Bay. He’s as much of an icon as any player in Buccaneers history, drafted and developed by the team, a guy who has seen the Bucs cycle through four coaches and four primary starting quarterbacks in his tenure.

But according to a prediction from ESPN, Evans is making his final run with the Buccaneers. The site, in predicting some major changes around the NFL, has the Chicago Bears stepping in to sign Evans after the team’s upcoming playoff run.

“The Bears will use the No. 1 pick on a new quarterback and invest in that quarterback by signing Mike Evans, one of the top free agent wide receivers. Evans has 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons and would pair nicely with DJ Moore in this offense,” wrote analyst Aaron Schatz on the site.

NFL Free Agency Rewards WRs (Even Old Ones)

The big question for the Buccaneers and Evans will be how much money he attracts in NFL free agency. He is 30, which would normally ding a player’s value. But that has not been the case for wide receivers, as evidenced by the five-year, $140 million contract Davante Adams signed with the Raiders.

Evans is coming off a five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed in 2018. Spotrac projects him to warrant a four-year, $96 million deal.

Here’s what cap expert Mike Ginnitti of Spotrac wrote about Evans: “Despite toppling the 30-year-old mark this past season, Mike Evans hasn’t slowed down one bit. He’ll enter the offseason as arguably the best available weapon in all of football, projecting to a 4 year, $96M contract in our system. With that said, a $28M+ tag price is likely too rich for Tampa Bay to bite on.”

Here’s how Pro Football Focus projects his free agency: “Another starting quarterback in Tampa Bay? Another 1,000-yard season from Mike Evans. … There is no reason he should ask for less than the recent crop of players, including Davante Adams, who effectively signed a three-year, $67.7 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Contract projection: Three years, $69 million ($23 million per year), $52.5 million total guaranteed.”

Losing Mike Evans Would Be a Huge Blow to Buccaneers

Evans was open to signing an extension with the Buccaneers in the offseason, but there was no agreement reached. He set a deadline for extension talks at the opening of Week 1, and vowed not to talk about his free agency after that, instead focusing on the season. He stuck with that vow. He was asked in December about his contract situation and said, “When that moment comes it’ll come, but right now, I’m focused on trying to get this team to the playoffs.”

Losing Evans would be a big blow not only in terms of his superstar production, but also in terms of the level-headed veteran leadership he brings. He is a steady hand and a pure professional in an era of diva wide receivers.

“The competitiveness of the guy – he just keeps playing,” offensive coordinator Dave Canales said last week. “He just keeps finding a way to fight, to scrap. … Mike is really just a humble guy, too. There were games [where] he had every right to be frustrated and games that were hard for us and he never turned on the offense. He never made a big scene about Mike and these things.

“He just kept working and he found a way to get himself back to focus by the next drive. That’s been a blessing for me and something that I really respect out of him.”

Read More