Mike Evans, WR
- UFA in 2024
- Could decide to chase a ring
Get the tissue box, because this one hurts.
Let's start by pointing out that Evans isn't for sure a goner after this upcoming season. Maybe this is us telling ourselves to look at the flowers, but it feels like there are more ways Evans stays with the Bucs than ways he leaves. It might come down to how he sees the rest of his career going and what the team's trajectory is over the course of that time.
He's already going down as one of the best players in franchise history, and figures to be a Hall of Famer one day, but legacy hit different when you spend an entire career in one place. That's something Lavonte David mentioned before deciding to forgo chasing a ring elsewhere and re-sign with the Bucs this offseason.
Will Evans do something similar?
The flip side of that coin is impossible to ignore. Evans is arguably a Top 5 receiver in the league, and while he's not on the wrong side of his best years he's running out of how many of those he has left. Tampa Bay has paid him well, but will it give him another big contract when he might be able to get one with another team?
As an unrestricted free agent next offseason, Evans is free to go wherever he wants. If the Bucs aren't in a position to seriously contend for a Super Bowl, his best option might be to find a team that is. There's also the quarterback situation, as the Bucs not having either a rookie to build around or a firm plan might deter Evans from returning in lieu of greener pastures. Evans deserves the best, and Bucs fans would be hurt by him exiting stage left but wouldn't be able to hold it against him.
Lest we forget the point about him being a top receiver still. While he's been taken care of by the Bucs, he's well within his rights to search for one last major payday before he's aged out of that pursuit.
He'll still get a spot in the Ring of Honor, and he'll go down as one of the best players to have ever played in Tampa Bay. It's rare for legends to spend their whole careers in one place, and Evans might have a few more stops left before he hangs up the cleats.