Report: Buccaneers and Mike Evans are 'far apart' on new deal

It's looking more and more likely that Mike Evans hits free agency in March.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Heading into the offseason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have three key players that the team needs to figure out how to pay and keep around.

Antoine Winfield Jr., Baker Mayfield, and Mike Evans are all top free agents set to hit the market this March, but the Bucs still have time to work something out before a point of no return is reached. Both Mayfield and Winfield will be easier situations to figure out, but when it comes to Evans things have been complicated since Week 1.

Evans has been adamant about wanting to remain with the Buccaneers for his entire career, but he's also been clear he won't take less than he's worth to do it. That was the crux of negotiations this past summer which ended with an ultimatum that Tampa Bay didn't meet.

Now we've reached the bridge everyone has known must be crossed. Evans is set to hit free agency in less than a month and it sounds like the two sides are still pretty far away from finding common ground.

Bucs, Mike Evans are 'far apart' in contract talks ahead of free agency

According to NFL insider Jordan Schultz, the Bucs and Evans are 'far apart' on a new deal with things trending toward the future Hall of Famer testing free agency this March.

The Buccaneers had a soft deadline today to get an extension done with Pro Bowl WR Mike Evans, but both sides remain far apart, sources say," Schultz reported. "Talks will continue, but my understanding is Evans is trending toward becoming a free agent, barring an unexpected change in discussions."

Making matters worse, the Bucs are taking on $7.4 million in dead cap space due to void years after not having reached a deal in time.

The main deadline is March 13th, as that's when the new league year begins and players without contracts officially become free agents. Another date to circle is March 11th, which is when the free agency tampering window opens.

While this isn't a particuarly great update, it's hardly the end of the road for either side. Truthfully it's more of a starting point than anything else, as we've known since September that this is where things stand. Evans has the leverage of knowing teams like the Chiefs and Jets will pursue him in free agency and the Bucs have to face reality that they could lose him if they don't start finding common contractual ground.

Something else to consider is what happens with Baker Mayfield. Right now he's not under contract, and that uncertainty could also be playing into where Evans is at. Once the Bucs take care of Baker -- which feels like close to a sure-thing -- then it could start massaging the situation with Evans and move things toward getting a deal done.

Until then, though, Bucs fans are going to live in a state of anxiety.

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