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Mike Evans, Buccaneers Fail to Reach Terms on Contract Extension

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans failed to reach a long-term contract agreement before Evans' self-imposed Saturday deadline.

Evans will play out the final year of the five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed in 2018. He would become an unrestricted free agent in March.

What makes Evans' case interesting is the possibility that Tampa Bay might look to trade him at the deadline if the season doesn't start the way the Buccaneers want.

While Tampa Bay would love to keep him a Buccaneer for life, the team faces two significant challenges.

First, Evans' franchise tag number for the next offseason will be more than $28 million, given that his cap number for this year is $23.6 million. He won't have the standard franchise tag number for all wide receivers.

Second, according to NFL rules, a team will only receive a fifth-round compensatory pick for a non-quarterback who has played for 10 or more years and leaves in free agency. So even if Evans signs a massive contract in free agency next offseason, the maximum compensation Tampa Bay would receive is a 2025 fifth-round pick.

The Buccaneers will begin the season with Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback. The NFC South is wide open, and they would likely want to keep Evans if they are still competitive as the Oct. 31 trade deadline approaches.

However, if Tampa Bay is struggling, the Buccaneers might seek to accumulate additional assets. They could certainly get a valuable package for Evans, 30, even if he's just a rental for a new team.

Since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2014, Evans has been exceptional. In his nine seasons in the NFL, he has exceeded 1,000 yards receiving every year. No other player in NFL history has achieved more than six in a row to start their career.

The Buccaneers kick off their season on Sunday in Minnesota against the Vikings.