All eyes are on Las Vegas and Super Bowl 58 this weekend, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have more attention focused on the offseason and how the team can piece together a roster that will still be playing this time next year.
The first step in doing that is figuring out how to bring back both Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. Both are set to become free agents next month and neither can be allowed to get away if the Bucs want to seriously contend for a Super Bowl next year.
It's a chicken-and-egg situation, though, as the question is which player will get his new deal first. Baker feels closer to a sure thing than Evans, who continues to be the subject of rumors about signing with teams like the Jets, Chiefs, and Texans.
Both should be back in Tampa Bay, though, and it sounds like Baker is throwing around some of his weight to get the Bucs front office to do the right thing.
Baker Mayfield says 'sacrifices' will be made to get Mike Evans back in Tampa Bay
While sitting down with Dan Patrick at Media Row in Las Vegas, Baker laid out what it might take to get Evans back with the Bucs and the lengths he could be willing to go.
"Oh, I think there will be some sacrifices along the way. There are mutual benefits for us to come back together," Baker said.
That sure sounds like he's willing to take less money on his new deal -- or agree to a specific structure -- in order to get Evans back. Baker has been very vocal about how important it is to him that Evans returns to Tampa Bay next season, and it seems he's starting to take some next steps as far as making a sales pitch.
Something else to read into is the general sentiment, which is that Baker is already mentally back with the Bucs. He hasn't signed a new deal yet but just about every sign continues to point toward that happening as soon as it can.
The new league year doesn't begin until March 11th, but the franchise tag deadline is a week before that on March 5th. That's the first big checkpoint of the offseason for the Bucs and could be when Baker gets tagged.
Baker already showing a willingness to sacrifice some money on his deal to make sure Evans gets paid what he's owed -- and returns to Tampa Bay -- is just another example of why he's so beloved in the Bucs locker room. It's also a clear sign that he's not only intending to return next year but is all-in on building a Super Bowl contender.