Mike Evans has given the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a deadline to reach a long-term agreement. Should the New York Jets come calling if the two sides are unable to work out a long-term deal?
Representation for the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said in a public statement Friday morning, “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.”
As the deadline draws closer, the reality of Evans potentially playing his final year in Tampa is growing substantially. Evans is in the last year of his deal with the Bucs, and should the team struggle to start the 2023 regular season, it could lead the organization to try and trade away their franchise leader at the deadline.
Should the Buccaneers place Evans on the trading block, the Jets are certainly a team that could not only give Evans the contract he wants but put him in a situation where he can continue to compete for championships. With Aaron Rodgers and Garrett Wilson in the fold, Evans could continue to push for his consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons while not being the lead target-holder at 30 years old.
As mentioned before, the Jets are one of the few teams that would be able to afford Evans as well. New York has over $20 million in cap space following Corey Davis’ retirement and Rodgers’ $35 million pay cut. The organization has already confirmed that they would be “flexible” throughout the deadline while leaving no stone unturned.
There are stones, and then there are massive boulders like Evans.
But what would a potential trade with Tampa look like for the Jets? Would the Bucs be willing to trade late-round picks for a franchise stalwart? Teams have tried to move great players by only receiving late-round relief before. Zach Ertz, TJ Hockensen, and Calvin Ridley have all left their organizations, but the compensation may not have matched what many thought they would go for.
If the Jets can acquire Evans for late-round picks, it would be a win for them and the fanbase, it would confirm that Gang Green is hunting for a championship and willing to do whatever is necessary to get to that point.
There are examples of why New York should not make a move. At 30 years old, the best playing days for Evans are behind him. His 1,000-yard streak may come from a bevy of random quarterbacks, but the former seventh-overall pick has barely reached that plateau several times in his career. He has been unable to go over 1,200 yards receiving in a season since 2018 and that has been with Tom Brady over the last few years. What will happen when his 100+ targets a season disappear as the Jets try to feature Wilson more in the passing game?
These are all questions that the team will have to juggle over the next few weeks. Trade talks may halt entirely if the Bucs agree to the receiver’s demands on a long-term contract. As of now, though, one of the most consistent receivers could be on the open market, and the Jets have plenty of draft picks to try and poach him away from his only NFL home.
With seven draft picks in 2024 and eight in 2025, New York has the firepower to get a deal done with Tampa. After that, they also have the cap space to entice the receiver to stay in Florham Park long-term.
And Evans has already learned the benefit of playing behind a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in his career.