NFL analyst has a no-brainer pick for the best move of Buccaneers offseason

Tampa Bay did a lot of good this offseason, but one move stands above the rest in the eyes of one NFL analyst.
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

It was a busy offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, just in a different way from most other teams. While there was a frenzy that saw players like Saqoun Barkley, Stefon Diggs, and Kirk Cousins all switch teams, the Bucs were focused on bringing their own guys back.

After going to the NFC Divisional Round last year and exceeding expectations to an incredible degree, it's a strategy that made sense. Antoine Winfield Jr, Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, and Lavonte David were all brought back as key pieces of Tampa Bay's core, with the idea of running things back even better than they went last season.

Some folks have tried to use this strategy against the Bucs, claiming that the Falcons spending $180 million on a quarterback coming back from a season-ending injury is a better use of resources than what the Bucs did. Not everyone is down on Jason Licht's approach, though, with one move in particular getting some serious praise.

NFL analyst picks the Buccaneers best move of the offseason so far

The Athletic's Mike Sando listed every team's best offseason move, and had a pretty obvious pick for the Buccaneers.

A few things could have been chosen here, like keeping Baker from hitting the market and making Winfield the highest-paid safety in the league. Sando went with the Bucs, bringing back Mike Evans as their best move.

"Keeping franchise icon Mike Evans on a short deal (two years) with a reasonable APY ($20.5 million, which ranks 15th among receivers) seems ideal. Evans finished last season with his third-best single-season mark for yardage (1,255) and second-best for touchdown receptions (league-high 13). He is the only player in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first 10 seasons. It’s great when logic prevails in these situations," Sando wrote.

It's hard to overstate what a boost getting Mike Evans back was, and how it might have been a linchpin to the entire offseason plan. Evans was the first of the big players to come back, and he did so on a deal that seemed like a discount on what he'd have gotten in free agency.

Evans noted that Houston was hot on his tail, which was all but confirmed by the Texans trading for Stefon Diggs. There's no question that had Evans hit the open market he would have been gone, but he chose to come back before even getting a taste.

It’s not hard to draw a direct line from Evans re-signing to Baker Mayfield deciding to come back ahead of the free agency tampering period. Getting those two back then showed guys like David, Winfield Jr., and Jordan Whitehead that the team is not only setup to succeed but everyone involved is serious about finishing the job.

Tampa Bay did a lot of good things this offseason, but it’s hard to top a franchise icon like Evans returning the way that he did.

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