The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ biggest star may be moving on from the team after this season.
According to a report from Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, wide receiver Mike Evans is likely entering his final year with the team as contract talks have stalled. The 30-year-old receiver is entering the final year of a five-year, $82 million contract he signed back in 2018.
“It appears Mike Evans will leave the Bucs much the same way he’s played for them: a bit undervalued but without much fuss,” writes Stroud. “With talks about a contract extension at an impasse, the greatest offensive weapon in club history is playing what likely will be his final season in Tampa Bay.”
Mike Evans Sets Deadline for Contract Talks
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported, Evans’ agents have informed the organization that they will “discontinue” all contract talks on Saturday, September 9 — a day prior to the Buccaneers’ season-opening game against the Minnesota Vikings.
“Mike Evans’ agents “have informed the Buccaneers organization that we will discontinue contract discussions as of September 9, 2023,” writes Schefter.
Evans’ agent, Deryk Gilmore, released a lengthy statement explaining where both sides are at in contract negotiations and reveals that Evans has yet to receive a contract offer from the organization.
“Despite our efforts over the past two years, and the professionalism of Bucs general manager Jason Licht, and Assistant General Manager Mike Greenberg, we have not received an offer to stay in Tampa,” Gilmore says in the statement. “This is disappointing to Mike as he sees other teams step up to keep key pieces and players that are important to their organizations.”
Mike Evans Seeking Similar Deal to Cooper Kupp
Stroud notes that Evans is seeking a deal similar to the deal that the Los Angeles Rams‘ Cooper Kupp signed, which was for three years, $80.1 million with $75 million guaranteed and a $20 million signing bonus.
That would be an increased over Evans’ currently salary, which sees his cap figure at roughly $23.7 million during the 2023 season.
“Evans is believed to be seeking a deal similar to the three-year, $80.1 million contract signed by Rams receiver Cooper Kupp that included $75 million guaranteed and a $20 million signing bonus,” writes Stroud.
The veteran receiver is entering his 10th season and while his production dipped slightly last season compared to his normal numbers, he remains one of the top receivers in the league and the Buccaneers’ go-to receiver.
The four-time Pro Bowler posted 77 receptions for 1,124 receiving yards — his highest number of receptions since 2018 and his highest amount of receiving yards since 2019 — and six touchdowns last season. His receiving yards and touchdowns led all Tampa Bay players during the 2022 season.
Furthermore, Evans is the only player in NFL history to begin his career with nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Along with ex-Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin, the receiving duo is one of the top pairs in the NFL.
However, if Evans has yet to receive a contract offer after two years of negotiations with the Buccaneers, the organization may be leaning in a different direction. Many of the key players from the Super Bowl team during the 2020 season have since departed, as Tampa Bay has rebuilt and reloaded following Tom Brady’s retirement.
The amount of money the Buccaneers committed to players during the Brady era resulted in the team going through a salary cap crunch during the offseason, as they moved on from former holdovers such as Leonard Fournette, Donovan Smith, Cameron Brate and Shaq Mason. They also re-signed defensive leader, Lavonte David, to a $4.5 million deal after he played under a $12.5 million average over the prior two seasons.
If the two sides are unable to come to an agreement within the next week, don’t be surprised if Evans plays his last season in Tampa Bay or ends up being traded by the Oct. 31 deadline to a potential NFL contender.