Sunday afternoon will mark the start of a new Tampa Bay Buccaneers season, but all eyes are on a different — and potentially more important — date.
Mike Evans set Saturday as a deadline for the Bucs to make him a contract offer he likes. The future Hall of Famer is in the final year of the deal he signed back in 2018, and is reportedly seeking a contract in the neighborhood of what Cooper Kupp received from the Los Angeles Rams.
Kupp is the third-highest paid reciever in the NFL, and since he signed his deal both Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams passed him up. Meanwhile, Evans is currently the 17th-highest paid receiver in the league despite some of the names above him on that list lacking his level of talent.
Earlier this offseason it was speculated that a deal in the ballpark of $21 million AAV might be enough to satisfy Evans. Tampa Bay has been painted in to a corner thanks to salary cap constraints which have limited the front office’s ability to spend as freely as it has the last few offseasons.
That $21 million AAV — which would have been a three-year, $66 million deal — was already a bit rich for the Bucs blood. So when Evans’ agent came back with a figure north of $80 million, which is where Kupp’s deal is, Tampa Bay was priced out before it even had a chance to think.
Buccaneers reportedly end contract talks with Mike Evans
According to NFL insider Dianna Russini over at The Athletic, the Bucs are not planning on offering Evans a contract extension ahead of the deadline his agent set.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no plans to offer Pro Bowler Mike Evans a contract extension at this time, league sources told toThe Athletic on Friday,” Russini reported.
This isn’t a terribly surprising development, but it’s absolutely a bummer. There was hope among Bucs fans that the two sides might be able to reach common ground before the imposed deadline, but it appears that won’t be the case.
Instead, the Bucs refused to budge when challenged by Evans’ agent, who was the one who gave the team an ultimatum and set the Saturday deadline. Evans endorsed the deadline when he spoke to the media this week, and reiterated that he’s simply looking to secure his future one way or another.
Bucs fans were hoping that future would be in Tampa Bay, which is something that’s more in doubt than it’s ever been.
While this update is less than ideal, it’s not the end of the road. A likely way this all ends up playing out is Evans and the Bucs re-engaging after this upcoming season when the wide reciever’s value on the market is more clear. There’s still a chance Evans remains in Tampa Bay and gets a new deal, but a major difference when talks resurface will be that 31 other teams will also be able to offer Evans a deal and potentially convince him to leave the Bucs.
That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross in six months when Evans’ contract expires. Until then, he’s remained adamant that the contract situation won’t be a distraction.