Bucs’ Mike Evans Linked to NFC Rival: Report

Mike Evans

Getty Mike Evans could get traded this offseason.

Amid an early playoff exit and Tom Brady‘s retirement, Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Mike Evans emerged as a trade possibility.

Chicago Bears insider Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Chicago proposed that the Bears trade for Evans. The Bucs have a dire salary cap situation, $55.7 million over the cap, and Evans will cost the Bucs $23.6 million in 20203 per Spotrac.

Tampa Bay would receive a second-round draft or future first round pick, Schrock proposed. He noted that Evans’ trade availability would hinge on whether or not the Bucs land a veteran quarterback and the team’s degree of rebuilding.

“Tampa choosing that path could potentially open the door for the Bears to make a run at the No. 1 wide receiver they desperately need in Mike Evans,” Schrock wrote. “At 29, Evans still is at the peak of his powers and would give the Bears the downfield, jump-ball threat they need to help quarterback Justin Fields take the next step.”

The Bucs save $9.1 million in cap space, per Spotrac, with the trade and add another young player in the draft this year or next. Trading Evans also saves more cap space for the future because he will become a free agent in 2024, and re-signing him won’t come cheap.

He signed a five-year, $82.5 million extension in 2018 before his rookie contract ended, and Evans could still command big dollars in 2024 if he keeps producing 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Spotrac list his annual salary value at $23 million for 20203.

While Evans historically restructures contracts with the Bucs to keep his cap hit team friendly, he isn’t eligible for a restructure in 2023 per Spotrac. Evans re-worked his contract with the Bucs in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 per Spotrac.

Bucs ‘Have to Be Listening to Trade Offers’ for Evans

Trading Evans wouldn’t go over well with the Bucs fan base, but the franchise might have to go that route.

Tampa Bay drafted Evans No. 7 in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he produced 1,000-yard seasons for the past nine years. He stuck with the team through six losing seasons before things took off during the Brady era.

Despite Evans’ success with the Bucs, the front office faces tough decisions with Brady retired, a serious salary cap situation, and an aging roster. Nick Wize of WDAE said the Bucs can’t ignore trade offers for Evans.

“I understand it won’t be the most popular opinion, but if you are the Buccaneers, I think you have to be listening to trade offers for Mike Evans for the future of this team that needs to get younger,” Wize said on the “The Nick Wize Show” via WDAE.

“It can’t be completely off the table because we love Mike. If the [New York] Giants call and offer pick 25 and one of their third round picks, I would have to consider it,” Wize added. “Evans will be great no matter who the QB is, but the fact of the matter is, the Mike Evans and the mediocre QB recipe has never won you a championship or a even a division.”

Bucs Receiver Situation Without Evans

If the Bucs trade Evans, that could leave the team with just Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Deven Thompkins, and Kaylon Geiger. The Bucs could also lose Julio Jones, Breshad Perriman, and Scotty Miller in free agency.

While the free agent market has some quality free agent receivers such as Jakobi Meyers or JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Bucs will be hard-pressed to afford the better receivers out there. Finding a receiver in the draft won’t be a shoe-in either this year. Pro Football Focus called it “arguably the weakest” class “in half a decade”, and none of the top three receivers are likely to fall to the No. 19 pick for the Bucs.