Sauce Gardner is already recruiting Mike Evans to the Jets

The All-Pro cornerback wasted no time hitting the recruiting trail amid reports that the Bucs and Evans are ‘far apart’ in negotiations.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Jets
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Jets / Elsa/GettyImages

On Monday the first deadline passed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get something worked out with the team's top three free agents and the team is already feeling the potential hit.

By not reaching new deals with Antoine Winfield Jr., Baker Mayfield, and Mike Evans the Bucs took a $16 million dead cap hit thanks to void years on contracts for each of those players. That’s not ideal but it’s nothing compared to a reality in which Tampa Bay begins next season without one — or all — of those players on the roste.r

The likelihood of losing all three is near-zero, as the Bucs are expected to franchise tag Winfield while all signs continue to point toward a long-term deal with Baker getting worked out before he hits the open market.

As for Mike Evans, the future is much murkier.

NFL insider Jordan Schultz reported on Monday that the Bucs and Evans remain ‘far apart’ in contract talks and that things are trending toward the future Hall of Famer hitting free agency. It took less than a day for other players around the league to hear that update and hit the recruiting trail.

Sauce Gardner is already trying to recruit Mike Evans to sign with Jets

Among th top potential landing spots for Evans, the New York Jets have been lurking in the background since before the season even started. Joe Douglas reportedly called the Bucs to inquire about a Mike Evans trade before the season — a report that resurfaced at the trade deadline — but was promptly turned away.

While the Jets weren’t able to land Evans then, it was a clear indication of their interest. That seems to have grown over the course of the season, especially considering how New York needs to figure out how to turn next year into a success.

All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner is already putting in work trying to convince Evans that he needs to choose the Jets over all other suitors.

It’s not just New York that Tampa Bay needs to worry about as potential competition for Evans in free agency. The Kansas City Chiefs might be an even better landing spot, as the idea of Evans linking up with Patrick Mahomes not only boosts his chances of winning another Super Bowl but it pads his Hall of Fame resume as well.

For some reason the Carolina Panthers keep hanging around the conversation as well. The Dave Canales connection is the main reason why, but it’s hard to see Evans viewing the Panthers as an upgrade over Tampa Bay; if anything it’s a parallel move.

Other teams like the Lions and Texans have been mentioned as potential suitors too, but the Bucs remain high on the list of teams that could end up with Evans when all is said and done. He’s been vocal about wanting to spend his entire career in Tampa Bay, but it’s up to the Bucs to meet his asking price in order to make that happen.

Sauce might be the first player to try recruiting Evans, but he certainly won’t be the last.

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