While Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Mike Evans didn’t wow the Dallas Cowboys in January, the NFC contender could trade for him.
NFL.com’s Adam Rank recently proposed that trade because Evans enters the final year of his contract and the Bucs face a possible rebuild amid Tom Brady’s retirement. The Bucs also face a $35 million dead-cap hit from Brady amid the team’s $55.5 million over the salary cap.
In addition, the Bucs’ 8-9 season in 2022, which went thud in a 31-14 Wild Card loss to the Cowboys, doesn’t bode well for the immediate future. Evans had just six catches for 74 yards in that loss, but he continued a high level of play overall in 2022 with 77 catches for 1,124 yards and six touchdowns.
“In the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement, I’m not sure how close the Buccaneers are to being competitive,” Rank wrote. “Even if they were to nab an accomplished veteran signal-caller — like, say, Derek Carr — I’m not sure how high the ceiling is. Winning a watered-down NFC South again? Alright, yeah, maybe. But actually competing for a title? Hard to see. Thus, moving on from the 29-year-old Evans in the last year of his contract makes too much sense.”
Evans, the eighth-highest paid receiver in the league, will make $23.69 million in 2023 in the final season of his five-year, $82.5 million deal. He gives the Bucs a reliable No. 1 receiver year in and year out with nine-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and Dallas could use his services if willing to take on as much as a $14 million cap hit per Spotrac.
Dallas went 12-5 in 2022 but fell short in the Divisional Round. Adding Evans gives quarterback Dak Prescott another star skill player to complement receiver CeeDee Lamb and help the Cowboys compete against a loaded NFC East.
Bucs Insider: Trading Evans ‘Makes No Sense’
Despite other teams’ interest, trading Evans “makes no sense for the Bucs” from a financial standpoint according to NFC South insider Greg Auman of FOX Sports.
Auman noted it doesn’t help the Bucs’ salary cap issues since “trading him saves $2 million while creating $21milion in dead cap” before June 1. If the Bucs wait until after June 1 to trade Evans, the team takes on a dead cap hit of $9.19 million but saves $14.5 million in cap space.
For the Bucs to justify trading Evans at that point, it would take the team going into full rebuild mode with a young quarterback and shedding key veteran players. What kind of team the Bucs will field in 2023 will have mostly taken shape by June 1 with the main months of free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror.
“Makes more sense to extend him,” Auman wrote.
Evans, who has spent his whole career with the Bucs, also has a history of re-working his contract to make it more team-friendly.
Interest in Evans Won’t Die for a While
Wide receiver-needy teams with Super Bowl aspirations won’t hesitate to kick the tires on Evans as Rank sees it.
“But Evans actually would be a great acquisition for a number of teams, including some seriously looking to make a Super Bowl run,” Rank wrote. “Like the Dallas Cowboys, who are desperate to venture beyond the Divisional Round for the first time since Bill Clinton’s first term. Turns out Jerry Jones and Co. probably made a mistake dealing Amari Cooper last year. Dak Prescott needs more juice out wide, and I imagine Evans — a Texas native who starred at Texas A&M — wouldn’t mind playing for the ‘Boys.”
Evans admitted his childhood fandom of the Cowboys during a January 11 press conference before the Wild Card game. However, most NFL players never suited up for their favorite childhood team, including the quarterback who threw 31 touchdown passes to Evans during the past three seasons.