All eyes are on Las Vegas and Super Bowl 58, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already looking at the future. Specifically, the Bucs need to figure out a way to bring back Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans, something that both players have indicated they'd like to see happen.
Baker revived his career with the Bucs, and the fact that the team took a chance on him and believed in him seems to be something that goes a long way in his book. It's seemed much closer to a sure thing that Tampa Bay can re-sign Baker, the tricky part is bringing back Evans.
Evans hasn't been shy about how he'd like to spend his entire career with the Bucs, but he's also not going to take less than he thinks he's worth. That's what led to an ultimatum before Week 1, one that the team did not meet, and has Evans set to enter free agency.
That's something that both sides seem to want to avoid, and the ball is firmly in the Bucs court.
NFL insider updates timeline for Bucs re-signing Mike Evans
Alongside Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, NFL insider Mike Garafolo gave a pretty significant update on the Bucs potentially re-signing Evans.
"The date to keep in mind is February 19th, which is when his contract voids. That would accelerate over $7M of cap hits," Garafolo reported at the Super Bowl. "It's not a huge deal but if Tampa can get it done before that, they'd like to do it."
All season we heard minor updates but they were all the same thing -- Evans wants to come back but that business will get taken care of in the offseason. That time is almost here, and it sounds like the Bucs are more willing to make a deal than they were before the season .
Based on the season Evans had, which included him going over 1,000 yards for the tenth straight season, the Bucs probably should have made a deal before Week 1. The price has gone way up on Evans, but the fact that Baker has been so adamant about getting him back -- perhaps to the point of taking less money on his own deal -- makes this update even more notable.
We've known the Bucs would need to find a way to bring Evans back and the bridge had to be crossed at some point. Now we know a rough timeline of when a deal could happen, but it still feels like there are more ways Evans returns than he ends up somewhere else.