4 potential replacements for Mike Evans if he leaves Buccaneers in free agency

If the future Hall of Fame wide receiver leaves, where does Tampa turn?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Evans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Evans / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages
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Ideally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would love to re-sign wide receiver Mike Evans this offseason.

However, they also have two other big names they'd like to be able to pay. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. are going to require new contracts, and they won't come cheap.

What happens if the Bucs cannot afford to bring Evans back? Where do they turn?

There are a few options, in both free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft.

1. Tee Higgins, Free Agency

One of the better available free agent wideouts is Tee Higgins out in Cincinnati. Let me just go ahead and say it: if the Bucs can't afford Evans, they probably won't be able to afford Higgins. The Bengals are already talking about potentially giving Higgins the franchise tag.

But, on the off chance he does hit free agency, maybe the Bucs can give him a backloaded contract and make this work somehow. Higgins just turned 25 years old and is coming off a tough season which saw him deal with injury and less production than he's used to.

In the end, Higgins could actually come cheaper than Evans, which is why this possibility is at least worth mentioning. Per Spotrac, Higgins' projected market value is $18.6 million annually, whereas Evans is $23.8 million. That's a significant difference when it comes down to it. That additional $5 million could be used in a Mayfield contract.

Keep your eyes peeled for a possible tag-and-trade situation with Higgins, too, as has been. mentioned in recent rumors.