The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done it! After a lot of speculation of where he'll end up, star wide receiver Mike Evans ended up deciding to stay with the Buccaneers. Much to the chagrin of other contenders, Evans signed a two-year deal worth $52 million to stay in Florida. Now, Tampa Bay is gearing up for another playoff push.

It's worth asking, though, how good is this deal for the Buccaneers? Keeping Evans around is great and all, but was it worth the price? Or did the team overpay to avoid their long-time star from leaving? Let's grade this deal and talk about what it means for Tampa Bay.

Some Background

With a two-year, $52 million extension, Evans becomes the fourth-highest paid wide receiver in terms of average approximate value (AAV). His roughly $26 million AAV sits just behind Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams. The Buccaneers sure paid a hefty price for their star wide receiver.

Last season, Evans recorded his tenth straight 1,000-yard season. The Buccaneers wide receiver tallied 1,255 yards on 79  receptions. He also recorded 13 touchdowns: most in the league. In the playoffs, Evans continued his elite play by nearly racking up 200 yards in the two games they played.

It's also worth noting that Evans isn't the only player on the Buccaneers who's due for a new deal. Baker Mayfield is seeking a new contract as well, and he's reportedly looking to stay only if Evans stays. There's also star defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr, but he's set to be given the franchise tag.

Is the Mike Evans-Buccaneers deal good?

Well, first off, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, it does look like the Buccaneers may have overpaid for Mike Evans with his contract extension. $26 million per year for a player coming into his 11th season in the league seems crazy at first glance, no? However, there are a couple of things that skew this deal into the Bucs' favor.

First, and perhaps most obviously, is the length of the contract. Tampa Bay knows that there's only a few years left for them to compete before potentially rebuilding again. Instead of committing to a multi-year deal with Evans, they opted for a short contract to keep their roster intact. In that way, they continue to play for a win today without completely mortgaging their future. Had this been a long-term deal at a similar AAV, we'd have problems.

Secondly, the Buccaneers in a position to continue chasing a playoff spot. The general weakness of the NFC South makes them favorites to the postseason. While no one will look at Tampa Bay as a Super Bowl team, anything can happen in any given Sunday. Keeping Evans around, even on a slight overpay, is just fine.

Arguably the most important reason why this deal is good, though, is because of another player. Mayfield emerged last season as a solid, sometimes elite quarterback, a form we haven't seen from him since 2020. The Buccaneers are interested in keeping him around for a bit longer, if only to keep their playoff window alive.

However, one of Mayfield's conditions to stay with Tampa Bay is if Mike Evans is there. It makes sense: Evans is one of the best wide receivers Mayfield has played with. If he were to stay in Tampa Bay to win, he'd ideally want his number one wide receiver there. The deal between Evans and the Buccaneers all but guarantees that Mayfield will stay.

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GM Jason Licht in the middle, Jackson Powers-Johnson, Marshawn Kneeland, Malik Washington around him, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wallpaper in the background

Enzo Flojo ·

Final Grade: B+

$26 million for a receiver entering his eleventh season at age-30 is a lot, let's be real. There's no sugarcoating the fact that the Buccaneers overpaid (albeit not by much) to keep Evans in Florida. That being said… the team did a great job minimizing the potential damage a deal like this could cause. The short contract terms certainly make the pill much easier to swallow.

Besides, if there's one player that you'd want to overpay for, it would definitely be Evans. He is incredibly talented and consistent, and he rarely misses time due to injury. He is the quintessential franchise player, and the Buccaneers would be foolish to let him walk. Letting him walk would've given him the chance to head to a division rival in the Panthers.

With the deal with Evans, the Buccaneers are likely handing the franchise tag to Winfield Jr. After a surprising 2023 season, the team is certainly ready to go and rain hell upon their opponents in 2024. Can they maintain your momentum for the upcoming season?