Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade a star wide receiver to save money and stock up on draft picks for the future?
The theme of the Buccaneers offseason seemed like it was going to be one of defeat.
It’s not that anyone on the coaching staff or in the front office was waving the white flag on the first post-Tom Brady season, rather the team needed to pay the bill for the last three seasons and appeared to be boxed out of being able to do anything.
All of that changed on Monday, the first day of the NFL legal tampering period, when the Bucs re-signed star cornerback Jamel Dean to a four-year, $52 million contract. The deal was a stunner, as it took less than a day for the Bucs to completely change perceptions about how they’re approaching this offseason and how it will go for them.
Of course, the salary cap situation is still something that needs to be navigated. Coming into the offseason Tampa Bay needed to shed over $50 million to get back under the cap which called for some tough decisions to be made.
Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, and Donovan Smith were all cut loose to save money and numerous deals with stars like Vita Vea were restructured. Amid this mad dash to get back under the cap, juxtaposed against the backdrop of an uncertain future without Tom Brady, some pundits were predicting some other ways for the Bucs to shed money and build for the future.
NFL.com writer suggest Buccaneers trade Mike Evans to Dallas Cowboys
NFL.com’s Adam Rank went through a handful of trades involving star players and predicted where they might land if their current teams decide to move them.
One of his predictions was the Rams trading Jalen Ramsey, which eventually did happen, which makes his inclusion of Mike Evans a bit more notable.
"Evans actually would be a great acquisition for a number of teams, including some seriously looking to make a Super Bowl run. 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."
To be fair, this was written before the Buccaneers re-signed Jamel Dean but it’s hard to see the national media pivoting off ideas like this just because he’s back. In that vein, more moves need to be made before the Bucs are once again considered true Super Bowl contenders, because as it stands Kyle Trask has done nothing to prove he can lead the team there.
Keeping Evans does more than just put the Bucs in the conversation to compete, though. If the team is going to figure out whether or not Trask has what it takes to be the franchise quarterback of the future, it must put him in the best position to succeed.
It’s wildly unfair to Trask to ask him to prove himself as a starter and then take away his best wide receiver.
Trask isn’t the reason the Bucs won’t be trading Evans, though, it’s the money. Moving Evans would add another $21 million in dead cap space to an already steep pile, so the Bucs wouldn’t actually be saving money by trading him.
Pair that with the fact that the Bucs aren’t going to get a first round pick for Evans — even though he’s worth it and that would be nice — which means they’d be paying $21 million and a Top-5 receiver in the league for a Day 2 pick. Even if it’s a first round pick, Dallas has pick No. 26 so it’s not like the Bucs would be getting a top pick to use.
It’s an interesting thought exercise, and is in line with what some fans suggested in the wake of a potential tank season on the horizon. But trading Evans doesn’t make sense, not to Dallas or anywhere else, and keeping him for one more year is the best path forward.