Mike Evans has decided to test free agency, so what happens next for Buccaneers?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Houston Texans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Houston Texans / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The inevitable has finally happened, as Mike Evans has decided to test free agency and is as close to leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he’s ever been.

We’ve all know this is coming, though. Ever since he gave the Bucs an ultimatum before Week 1 all signs pointed to Evans testing the market to see if he can get paid what he believes he’s worth. It’s a bummer to actually have it come to this, with the team unable to reach a deal before free agency, but it’s not at all surprising.

The Athletic’s Diana Russini confirmed what Bucs fans have been waiting for since September. 

“Mike Evans plans to hit free agency for the first time in his career, per sources. Tampa and Evans are in discussions but he wants to explore his options. This doesn’t mean Evans' time as a Buc is over, but he plans on hearing from all teams before making a decision,” Russini reported.

Mike Evans could still return to Buccaneers in free agency

This was always going to be the case, at least after the Bucs decided to not give Evans a deal before the season. 

As Russini notes, it’s hardly the end of the road. There are still more ways Evans comes back to the Bucs than he leaves but things are now much more complicated than they had to be.

Evans testing the market will help establish a value on his contract, at which point Tampa Bay will have a firm number that was reached by a third party. Right now the value on Evans is his side against the Bucs, but getting other teams involved will show the team exactly what the market value for Evans is.

It should be a number the team meets, within reason.

He’s reportedly asking for something in the range of $25 million or more, which is very rich for the Bucs frugal blood. That’s where the negotiations will start and Tampa Bay risks that figure going ip and potentially out of its comfort zone.

All that said, Jason Licht has consistently said he wants Evans back, and that feeling is mutual. Evans has stated he wants to retire with the Bucs but has been clear about not settling for less to make it happen.

It’s unfortunate things came to this, but we’re in the endgame now and hopefully this all concludes with the best offensive player in franchise history continuing his career where it started. 

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