ESPN suggests a gut-wrenching free agency landing spot for Mike Evans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Evans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Evans / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some key decisions to make.

One of the biggest decisions they have in front of them is whether or not to re-sign longtime fan favorite, wide receiver Mike Evans.

He'll certainly have plenty of suitors if he's allowed to hit the market. Heck, he's already being recruited by Sauce Gardner out in New York. Obviously, fans would love to see him stay home in Tampa Bay -- the only NFL city he's ever known.

ESPN's Matt Bowen recently predicted where some of the top NFL free agents will land according to their best fit, and before we get to Evans, let's just establish the fact that Bowen believes Baker Mayfield is best suited to stick around Tampa Bay.

However, if Bowen's prediction comes true, Mayfield won't be throwing to his favorite target from a season ago.

Mike Evans could sign with the Carolina Panthers and break the hearts of Bucs fans everywhere.

"Evans could follow Panthers coach Dave Canales to Carolina after he had 1,255 receiving yards and a league-leading 13 touchdown catches in the same offensive system last season in Tampa Bay," Bowen explained.

"Evans is still playing at an extremely high level, and he'd be an immediate (and needed) upgrade for Panthers quarterback Bryce Young as a multiple-level target with red zone upside," Bowen finished.

At first glance, this prediction should absolutely outrage fans in Tampa. Who wants to see one of the all-time franchise greats cross over to a division rival?

In the end, though, that's exactly what could end up happening. The Panthers desperately need a true no. 1 wide receiver for Bryce Young, and they might not get it in the 2024 NFL Draft thanks to not having a first-round pick from the trade which landed them Young a year ago.

Signing a top free agent might be their best bet to give Young the top-tier weapon he needs and deserves. While it wouldn't be ideal for Bucs fans, it makes sense because of the relationship between he and Dave Canales.

We'll have to see if Bowen's prediction comes true in a matter of a few weeks when the new league year is set to start.