A former notable Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft pick is signing with the New Orleans Saints.
As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday, April 4, safety Justin Evans is signing with the Saints. The former second-round draft pick served as a Buccaneers starter during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, amassing 125 tackles and four interceptions in 21 starts and 24 appearances.
“Tampa Bay’s former second-round pick Justin Evans, who has spent the past two years out of football recovering from injuries, is signing a one-year deal to play safety for the New Orleans Saints, per his agent Kevin Conner of @UniSportsMgmt. He is now healthy and ready to play,” says Schefter.
Why Evans Hasn’t Played Since 2018 Season
The 26-year-old Evans hasn’t played a game since the 2018 season. He was sidelined during the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to an Achilles’ injury before he was released in December of 2020 with a “failed physical” designation.
Prior to the start of the season in August of 2020, then-head coach Bruce Arians was asked regarding Evans’ potential timetable for a return. Arians gave an blunt and honest assessment regarding Evans, who wouldn’t take another snap again for the Buccaneers.
“You’d have to talk to Jesus,” Arians said. “I have no clue.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Evans posted a 67.7 overall grade during the 2018 season, ranking 49th among all safeties that season.
Due to 13-year veteran Malcolm Jenkins’ recent retirement, Evans and 24-year-old C.J. Gardner-Johnson will compete in training camp for the Saints’ starting position at strong safety.
Arians’ recent retirement is making rounds and it has a little bit to do with Tom Brady’s decision to return.
There had been speculation that Brady’s initial decision to retire had something to do with his deteriorating relationship with Arians. His recent decision to return and Arians’ sudden retirement shortly thereafter isn’t quieting that chatter down.
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Sharpe: 99% Sure Brady Involved in Arians Stepping Down
Fox Sports analyst and former NFL player Shannon Sharpe believes Brady had a role in Arians’ retirement. The 69-year-old announced his decision to retire as head coach and step into a senior consultant role for the Buccaneers on Thursday, March 31.
Sharpe stated the following during the Monday, April 4 edition of “Undisputed.”
“Tom Brady had 99% to do with Bruce Arians stepping down,” said Sharpe. “Brady told BA: you’re stepping down today, we’re going to have a press conference tomorrow and you’ll say all the right things. I believe Tom Brady told management: ‘It’s BA or me.'”
Arians explained his decision to step down, attributing that the timing is right for Todd Bowles to take over as head coach considering he’ll take over a contender with Brady at the helm.
“Succession has always been huge for me,” said Arians. “With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in its history, with Tom Brady coming back … I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some [crappy] job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it next February because [if] Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job … I got 31 [coaches and their] families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting all those families down.”
Whether or not Brady actually had anything to do with Arians stepping down is unknown, but one thing is for certain — all parties are on the same page entering the 2022 season.