Contract Talks between Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at a standstill, as the superstar receiver enters the final year of his contract.
The 7th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Mike Evans has played his entire NFL career in Tampa Bay. Evans started his career with 9 straight seasons over over 1000 yards and there is no doubt that he will go into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor as his constant production has been unmatched.
But, it looks increasingly possible that the 2023 season could be the final one for Evans in Tampa Bay. As negotiations over a contract extension have broken down.
Mike Evans Contract Talks Stall
Buccaneers reporter, Rick Stroud from the Tampa Bay Times, detailed that “talks about a contract extension [are] at an impasse” and that Evans “is playing what likely will be his final season in Tampa Bay”.
Stroud is reporting that Evans was looking for a new deal with the compensation level similar to that of Rams star wide receiver Cooper Kupp. According to Spotrac Kupp’s contract is a 3 year deal worth around $81 million with $75 million guaranteed.
Mike Evans signed a 5 year contract back in 2018 worth $82.5 million with $55 million guaranteed. Evans is entering the last year of his contract and carries a cap hit of close to $23.7 million in 2023.
Contract extension talks between the #Bucs and WR Mike Evans have produced no progress and seem to have reached an impasse, per @NFLSTROUD. Evans is in the final year of his contract and this season could now be his last in Tampa Bay. pic.twitter.com/ufyrDBY9Mq— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 1, 2023
Mike evans set negotiations deadline
Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times Mike Evans’s agent, Deryk Gilmore, from Day 1 Sports & Entertainment, said “ It sickens [Evans] to see players hold out and get rewarded. When he does everything for the organization on the field, in the community and off the field. Working with other players in the organization”.
Strong words. But, further details for Agent Gilmore have emerged. NFL Insider Mike Garafolo is reporting that Evans “will cut off contract negotiations if the sides don’t reach a deal by next Saturday”. That set deadline for contract negotiations is Saturday Sept. 9. The day before the Buccaneers open up their season at the Minnesota Vikings.
In the press release, Gilmore says “we have been working on extending Mike’s career with the Bucs for over a year, and we want fans to know this is not a tactic and the ball is in the owner’s court”.
Mike Evans has always put the team first. One of the reasons he restructured his deal was so the Buccaneers could go all in during the Tom Brady years.
Salary Cap Issues
Here is where things get interesting. The Buccaneers have put 3 void years on the backend of Mike Evans’s contract. Meaning if Evans wasn’t to sign a new deal in Tampa Bay, he will account for over $12 million in 2024.
By signing Evans to a contract extension that number would drastically reduce.
The Buccaneers are already eating over $72.5 million in dead cap hits in 2023. The legacy left over from recent years chasing Super Bowls. Tom Brady alone is counting for $35 million in dead money. A heavy chunk of the 2023 NFL salary cap for a team that is tight up against it.
But, the good news is that the dead money money is off the books for the 2024 season. And they have further room to negotiate. Spotrac estimates that the Bucs will have close to $20 million in cap space for 2024.
Although the Bucs have more space in 2024, things won’t get easier. Both Antoine Winfield and Devin White are scheduled to become free agents in 2024. And both want to be paid as well. Fellow receiver Chris Godwin will also be entering the final year of his contract in 2024 and will be looking for a hefty extension. Then you also have Tristin Wirfs who will be next up for a massive contract.
You can’t pay everyone. With the Bucs limited available cap room, the asking price and with Evans being over the age of 30, it could be that he is the guy that has to exit.
What Are The Chances A Deal Gets Done?
We know that both the Bucs and Mike Evans would like to get a deal done. But the money he is asking for is difficult to deal for the Bucs. Especially given all the contracts that will need negotiated. Which includes that they will have to eventually pay a QB; with Baker Mayfield only earning $4 million in 2023 on a one-year deal.
With the set deadline, it looks increasingly likely that a deal won’t get done before the new season.
That doesn’t mean Mike Evans is done in Tampa Bay though. He would still have his final year to play out and if he continues to perform at such an incredible consistent level his leverage and potential payday would also rise.
Greg Auman from Fox Sports suggests that “it’s hard to imagine they would write off the Bucs as an option before the season starts. If Evans has a strong year, it would logically increase his value for any Bucs offer, and if he didn’t, it might lower what he’s likely to be offered elsewhere.”.
The negotiation between Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may drag on yet. We know both sides want to get a deal done. But, as Evans enters the last year of his contract and with the Buccaneers’ cap situation, there is a real possibility that Evans could be playing his football elsewhere in 2024.
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