Wide receiver Mike Evans has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his entire nine-year career, but his upcoming 10th year could be his last with the franchise.
Evans and his agent, Deryk Gilmore, announced Friday morning that they've set a deadline for negotiations on a contract extension: Sept. 9, 2023, one day before the Bucs are scheduled to start the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings.
Mike Evans’ agents “have informed the Buccaneers organization that we will discontinue contract discussions as of September 9, 2023.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2023
In a statement, Evans' agent explained why they've made this decision. In order for Evans to have the best season possible, he wants to have this settled before he takes the field so he can just focus on football.
Mike Evans’ agent, Deryk Gilmore, says in a statement they will suspend contract negotiations with the Bucs by next week if a new deal is not reached. It may be Evans’ final season in Tampa, and Gilmore says the ball is in the owner’s court. pic.twitter.com/3NSAlB2YZK
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) September 1, 2023
“We have been working on extending Mike’s career with the Bucs for over a year, and we want the fans to know this is not a tactic and the ball is in the owner’s court. That said, we are giving the Bucs until the start of the regular season to make him a Buc for Life, and if that cannot happen, 100 percent of Mike’s focus will be on football and his future and where he can continue to make an impact.”
Evans, 30, has the perfect blend of productivity and consistency on the field. He's tallied at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his nine seasons. He has 683 career receptions for 10,425 yards with 81 touchdowns and has been to the Pro Bowl four times. Beyond that, he's very involved with Tampa and the surrounding communities with the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which focuses on helping children in need and working with women who have been victims of domestic violence.
All of that is impressive, which is why one detail in the statement was so surprising: Evans and Gilmore say they haven't received a single offer from the Bucs to keep the WR in Tampa. And they don't seem very pleased about that and what it says about the team's level of commitment to the players who made them great.
"Despite our efforts over the past two years, and the professionalism of Bucs General Manager, Jason Licht, and Assistant General Manager, Mike Greenberg, we have not received an offer to stay in Tampa. This is disappointing to Mike as he sees other teams step up to keep key pieces and players that are important to their organizations."
And then they called attention to what Evans could have done, but didn't.
"Many players with his status would have held out of camp to not risk injury, but Mike has continued practicing hard, as always, because he puts his team first. When you have a player that will be a Hall of Famer and still has 4 to 6 more years to make an impact in the league, you move Heaven and Earth to keep him on your team, and we would hope ownership feels the same way."
Evans didn't hold out or make a big deal about his lack of a contract extension. But since the Bucs haven't responded, he's putting the team on notice that he, one of their franchise cornerstones, is at risk of leaving the team on less-than-pleasant terms.
The team has a week to respond and make Evans a "Buc for Life." If it doesn't, it's possible the only way Evans is guaranteed to retire with the Bucs is if he decides to do so by the end of the 2023 season.