The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are entering the 2023 NFL season with plenty of weapons, but also with a cloudy future. Former number one overall pick Baker Mayfield has been named as the team’s starting quarterback, but is on a one-year $4 million deal. Just how good (or bad) he will be remains to be seen, but his recent track record is less than stellar.
In addition, the Bucs have several high-profile players that are entering their contracts’ final seasons. Most notable of these is four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans. Despite his desire to remain in Tampa Bay his entire career, the organization and the best pass catcher in franchise history have not been able to make any kind of progress in terms of a new contract.
This development has led many to believe that Evans may be playing his last season for only NFL team he has ever known.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Face a Difficult Decision with Mike Evans
Evan, the Buccaneers’ all-time leader in receptions (683). receiving yards (10,425), and receiving touchdowns (81). He also holds the NFL record for most 1,000+ receiving yard seasons to start one’s career (nine).
However, the run may be soon coming to an end. According to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, Evans and the Bucs have been unable to make progress on a possible extension. Unlike other NFL stars, Evans has not been holding out while he waits for a new deal. In a display of unselfishness that is not usually attributed to others at his position, he has been a full participant in Tampa’s offseason activities.
Despite the production on the field and his constant decisions to put the team and organization first, it does not sound like he will get the contract that he wants. Stroud writes:
“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.”
Kupp, who is 30 years old, just missed half of the 2022 season following an ankle injury. He is also now dealing with an ankle injury that could limit him at the start of the 2023 season.
Evans just turned 30 a few days ago, and the Bucs may be hesitant to give him a deal equal to Kupp’s given the latter’s current injury situation. The fear, of course, is that Evans will get paid and then get hurt.
Of course, there is the possibility that Tampa Bay and Evans are able to come to an agreement on a new contract after the season. By that time, though, Evans will have yet another year of dings and bruises. No matter how good he plays, the Buccaneers may see his age as a reason to avoid giving him his desired deal.
Chris Goodwin, who is three years younger than Evans, is also approaching the end of his contract. His deal is through 2024, but the $20 million he would make that year is not guaranteed.
As mentioned, the Buccaneers have Mayfield starting at quarterback on a one-year deal. They will need to either extend Mayfield for more money if he plays well, or spend a hefty sum on someone else (or explore their options in the NFL Draft).
In any case, it is a perfect storm of necessary spending on the horizon that has left the Bucs and their best offensive weapon at odds. Fortunately for them, he is not spiteful; he understands it’s a business.
Still, it is tough to see a player who has given everything he has to his team unable to secure a salary that is reflective of his worth.
For More of My Content
Follow me on Twitter at @theotherRobin19 or reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.