A potential trade scenario would see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers flip wide receiver Mike Evans in exchange for a pair of picks.
As proposed by ESPN’s Seth Walder, a potential preseason trade would see the Buccaneers trade the four-time Pro Bowl star to the New York Jets in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick and 2025 second-round pick.
Why the Buccaneers Would Consider Trading Mike Evans
While the move obviously makes sense for the Jets considering they’re looking to contend for a Super Bowl this season in Aaron Rodgers’ first year with the team, Walder argues that the Buccaneers are in “rebuilding mode” and could save money and gain draft capital as Evans enters the final year of his five-year, $82.5 million deal.
“For the Bucs, this is recognition that they need to be in rebuilding mode,” writes Walder. “Paying $13 million to put another year of wear on Evans in a season in which they are +800 to win the worst division in football (per Caesars Sportsbook) does not make sense. They can save money and gain draft capital by accepting that reality now.”
Trading Evans would likely be the first move towards signaling Tampa Bay is in a rebuild mode. Despite nearing 30 years of age, the veteran receiver remains one of the top wideouts in the game, posting his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season — an NFL record to begin a career — since entering the NFL in 2014.
However, Evans has stressed the desire to retire as a member of the Buccaneers.
“Of course, I’d love to finish my career here,” Evans said at the end of July. “There’s really nothing I can do about it. I’m not going to stay home and make a big deal about it. So, I’m just out here working as hard as I can. That’s what I’m doing. I’m here. I’ve always loved being here, and obviously I want to stay here and I’m sure they want to keep me. But it’s a business.”
Buccaneers Enter Season With Expectations to Contend
It’s true that the Buccaneers have lower expectations this season in comparison to prior years. With the retirement of Tom Brady, Tampa Bay is no longer talking about winning a Super Bowl — they’re hoping just to win a weak NFC South to get into the playoffs.
Further illustrating how far off Tampa Bay has fallen compared to recent years is where they rank in analyst’s power rankings entering the season. According to NFL.com’s Eric Edholm’s rankings, the Buccaneers rank 30th in the NFL.
However, Tampa Bay has yet to concede the season. In fact, all indications from the organization are that they expect to contend for a playoff spot this season, regardless of who wins the quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask.
“The goal is eventually to get back into a position like that (winning a Super Bowl), but in the short term, we still want to win and compete for this division – and we think we can,” said general manager Jason Licht back in March. “We just want to do it without sacrificing our long-term plans, our long-term goals, as well. I think we can find a way to do both at the same time.”
If the Buccaneers emerge as playoff contenders this season, there’s little reason to believe they’ll trade the best receiver in franchise history. However, if the season falls into a tailspin, there’s good reason to believe Tampa Bay will move on from their Super Bowl champion receiver by the trade deadline in October.