TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay has less than a week to make star wide receiver Mike Evans a “Buc for life,” according to his agent Deryk Gilmore.
Evans, who is beginning his tenth season in the league, all with the Bucs, gave the team two options: extend his contract and allow him to retire with the Buccaneer Red and Pewter Gray, or continue his legacy elsewhere allow.
Gilmore released a statement on Friday He and Evans told the Buccaneers organization that they would “end contract negotiations” on Sept. 9, a day before the start of the NFL regular season. Evans is entering the final year of his contract.
“Despite our best 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 remain in Tampa,” Gilmore said in a statement. “This is disappointing for Mike as he sees other teams making a commitment to retaining key figures and players who are important to their organisations. Many players of his status would have left camp to avoid risking injury, but Mike has continued to train hard as always because he puts his team first.
“When you have a player who is going into the Hall of Fame and has four to six years left to make an impression in the league, you do everything you can to keep him on your team and we hope that it does looks the same with ownership.”
With the Bucs’ roster filled with young players and Evans just turning 30, the organization may not be ready to spend the money this time around. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Bucs “are no longer interested in spending big bucks on 30-year-old players after pumping that bill up during the Brady years.”
Just before free agency began, Tampa Bay was more than $55 million over the salary cap, forcing them to eliminate veteran players, and the Bucs are still footing the bill with retired quarterback Tom Brady’s contract. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Laine explained that Brady’s contract counts $35 million towards the salary cap this year – the Bucs are “the most dead money of any team in the NFL” at $76.76 million. However, they are predicted to have a salary cap of $46.91 million next season.
But Evans’ agent said the Bucs wouldn’t pay two receivers more than $20 million a year, and fellow WR player Chris Godwin is entering the second season of his three-year, $60 million ($40 million guaranteed) contract.
According to Laine, the team recently reconstructed center Ryan Jensen’s contract. He was placed on the injured reserves (IR) list last month, ending his season before it even started.
Evans also rearranged his contract three times to allow for more salary cap flexibility, Laine explained, adding that WR Russell Gage, who was also transferred to IR, had to take a pay cut to remain a Buc.
If the Bucs took the franchise-tagging route, it would cost them $28.43 million in 2023, and Evans would most likely go to the open market. said NFL writer Kevin Patra.
In addition to Evans, Tampa Bay also has several Pro Bowlers lined up for new contracts in 2024, including linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., and left tackle Tristan Wirfs. It should be noted that White made headlines in the offseason when he publicly requested a trade. Looking back, White said the request was “a little selfish” and will be exercising his fifth-year option this year.
What’s more, Tampa Bay still hasn’t finalized its quarterback position. While Baker Mayfield is the starter this year, the QB only signed a one-year contract, meaning the Bucs could look elsewhere for a longer-term quarterback should things go wrong in Mayfield or Kyle Trask.
But unfortunately, having a long-term quarterback isn’t that exciting unless you have that old, reliable No. 13 downfield ready to make a play. In each of his nine seasons, Evans averaged more than 1,000 receiving yards, the longest active streak in the NFL.
According to the NFL, Evans has ranked in the top three in the NFL since entering the league in 2014 with 10,425 receiving yards and 81 touchdowns each.
When Bucs general manager Jason Licht was asked if the team would make roster changes to make room for the cap and keep Evans, said light“There [are] a few things we can do. We have some ideas about what we can do about it, and of course we want to keep that to ourselves. There are a few things we can do.”
If the Bucs are able to move things around to keep the star wide receiver, Evans has already expressed his passion and desire to stay in Tampa; It’s just up to the organization to close the deal.
“It’s no secret that I want to stay Buc for life,” Evans said. “It’s rare that players, especially these days, stay on a team as long as I have. I just want to finish here.”