The Buccaneers and Mike Evans
agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the contract, which averages a $16.5 million per-year average, includes $55 million in guarantees, Rapoport added.
The deal makes Evans the NFL's second highest-paid wide receiver after Pittsburgh Steelers star Antonio Brown
($17M per year average). The potential $82.5 million payout is the highest agreed upon figure for a wide receiver in league history, per NFL Research.
Locking down Evans to a long-term contract was one of Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht's priorities heading into offseason. Selected No. 7 overall out of Texas A&M by the Bucs in the 2014 NFL Draft, Evans was heading into the option of year of his rookie contract.
The deal ensures that Jameis Winston
's favorite wide receiver will be around for the foreseeable future.
As NFL.com's Austin Knoblauch suggested, it would be difficult to overstate Evans' value to the Winston-led Tampa offense. He's one of only three players in NFL history to begin their NFL careers with more than 1,000 receiving yards over four straight seasons -- only Randy Moss
(6) and A.J. Green
(5) are ahead of him.
In addition, the 2016 Pro Bowler ranks fifth in targets (580) and sixth in receiving yards (4,579) among all NFL receivers since 2014.
After just four seasons, Evans ranks third or better all-time in the Bucs' major receiving categories: Receptions (309), receiving yards and receiving TDs (32).
But the Bucs could not get Winston on track with Jackson, who caught only 50 passes and his yards per catch (13.4) was more than four years below his career average (17.7). That will need to change going forward in order to justify this deal. The potential is clearly there, but all involved -- including head coach/play caller Dirk Koetter will need to do better.
Meanwhile, Evans' new deal prompted Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio to wonder if the Bucs would now like to escape the contract of receiver DeSean Jackson
Jackson, signed a year ago, was largely a disappointment in 2017. He’s due to earn a base salary of $11 million this year, $7.5 million of which is fully guaranteed.
Evans was due to make $13.258 million this year, under his fifth-year option. The extension potentially reduces his cap number for 2018, but it's not clear if that will hold up throughout the course
of the deal.
Whatever the precise number, it could mean that the Bucs will look to unload Jackson.
Given that the Eagles will trade their current deep threat (Torrey Smith
) to Carolina next week
, Florio suggests the next power move for Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman will include bringing home another one of the guys Chip Kelly sent packing.