Bucs’ $82.5 Million Star a Prime Trade Candidate, Analyst Says

Jason Licht

Getty Bucs general manager Jason Licht drafted Mike Evans in 2014.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could still trade star wide receiver Mike Evans this summer as Sports Illustrated’s Matt Verderame sees it.

Evans has been linked to trade rumors throughout the offseason despite the Bucs’ public commitment not to trade him. Verderame, however, views Evans as a sought-after player by a contending team and a way for the Bucs to retool after the Tom Brady era.

“With Evans both 30 years old and in the last year of his contract, general manager Jason Licht should be looking to move his star wideout in a trade,” Verderame wrote. “Over his nine-year career, Evans has never failed to post 1,000 yards.”

“With a base salary of $13 million, Evans would be an attractive trade candidate for a contender looking for a perimeter weapon,” Verderame added. “As for Tampa, it would save $14.5 million to roll over.”

Expectations are low for the Bucs in the national media’s eyes, as Verderame alluded to. He called it “significant rebuild” and that the Bucs “need cap space and draft picks” for a quick turnaround.

Bucs Insider: ‘Evans isn’t Going Anywhere’

Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds strongly disagrees with the Evans trade narrative. Reynolds called it one of three “terrible” narratives about the Bucs from the national media.

“Evans isn’t going anywhere – except the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Bucs Ring of Honor after he retires in red and pewter,” Reynolds wrote. “Given he’s still in his prime, Tampa Bay wants and needs Evans in 2023 – and beyond.”

“Trading Evans would leave the team way too thin at wide receiver with just two veterans on the roster with Chris Godwin and Russell Gage,” Reynolds added. “No way Evans gets traded.”

Moreover, Evans looks set for an extension this summer according to Reynolds. The Bucs also need Evans’ extension to free up salary cap space, Reynolds noted.

“With Chris Godwin as the highest-paid Bucs receiver making an average of $20 million per season on his three-year, $60 million deal, Evans could fetch a similar deal,” Reynolds wrote. “Perhaps a two-year extension worth $40 million with $30 million in guaranteed money. That could free up $9.335 million in 2023 cap space and give the Bucs the room to sign their rookies once Evans’ extension is finalized later this summer.”

Bucs Anticipate More Involvement for Mike Evans

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles emphasized recently that Evans needs the ball more this season — especially near the end zone. Evans only had six touchdowns receptions in 2022 after 27 between the previous two seasons.

“We’ve got to make that a priority, obviously,” Bowles told reporters on Tuesday, May 30. “I think we made it a priority last year — sometimes it was shut down, sometimes we just misread it here and there, whether it was on the receiver, the [quarterback] or offensive linemen. We’ve got to get better in that area in getting him the football.”

Evans will play in a new-look offense with either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback, surrounded by a retooled offensive line. In addition, the Bucs have a new offensive coordinator in Dave Canales, who wants to utilize Evans and Godwin.

“I would say, specifically, they just do so many good things outside the numbers with the one-on-one matchups,” Canales said in a February press conference. “That will definitely be a part of what we do. And then, moving the receivers to gain access — you can release easier if you move your receivers around, so we have a simple system that allows us to be able to do that, to give them access into the secondary.”

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