Mike Evans

Buccaneers, Mike Evans Rework Contract

The Buccaneers and wide receiver Mike Evans have agreed to a restructured contract (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Greg Auman). The deal will be finalized on Thursday to free up $8.94MM in cap room for the defending champs. Word of the move was first reported by Joey Knight and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times

Evans was initially slated to earn $16.637MM this year. Now, a big chunk of that will be reclassified as a bonus to give the Buccaneers some much-needed space. After recent moves, the Bucs had less than $200K to work with. Now, they can afford to add veterans where necessary.

Evans’ base salary of $12.25MM will shift to a veteran minimum $1.075MM base salary with a $11.18 million in bonus (Twitter link via Auman). The bonus will be prorated over multiple years, lowering his cap number by $8.94MM, if they add three void years. If they add just one more void year, they’ll still shave off $7.45MM.

The star receiver has reworked his contract multiple times already to accommodate the team. He even volunteered to take a pay cut back in February, in order to keep the band together. Through sheer cap magic, the Buccaneers didn’t have to take him up on his offer — they retained tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, inside linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, edge rusher Shaquil Barrett for another big run.

Evans, who just turned 28, finished last year with 70 catches for 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns. For his career, Evans has a per-16-games average of 80/1,248/9.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Shaq Barrett Eyeing Bank-Breaking Payday

On the heels of two dominant games to close out the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning season, Shaquil Barrett is on course for free agency for a third straight year. The Bucs signed him to a low-cost deal in 2019 and franchise-tagged him last year. Barrett is eyeing his long-term payday in 2021.

The Bucs want to keep their standout free agents, but that list is lengthy. Barrett joins Lavonte David, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette as big-name players whose contracts expire in March. Ahead of his age-29 season, Barrett will seek to land his long-sought-after long-term deal.

I’m most definitely looking forward to getting a long-term deal done,” Barrett said during an interview with Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Schein (via CBSSports.com). “I feel like it’s time for me to break the bank now, and I most definitely want to do that to be able to set my family up better.

I want to be here. I think we got a great team here, a great organization here. So we will definitely go on just to see how it works out and shake up. But I’m looking forward to trying to get something done here.”

A former Division II recruit who transferred to Colorado State when his previous school (Nebraska-Omaha) dropped football, Barrett spent his first NFL season (2014) on the Broncos’ practice squad as a UDFA but became a key role player in Denver from 2015-18. Only the Bucs and Bengals offered Barrett deals in 2019, when Tampa Bay landed him for $4MM. Following his franchise-record-breaking 19.5 sacks in 2019, the Bucs franchised him. Barrett recorded eight regular-season sacks but added four in the playoffs. He registered a season-high eight pressures in Super Bowl LV and hit Patrick Mahomes four times during Tampa Bay’s dominant defensive outing.

Were the Bucs to tag Barrett again, the price would come in at $18.99MM. Six edge rushers average more than that on average, with Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett each securing extensions worth at least $25MM annually last year. Bruce Arians did not guarantee all the free agents-to-be would return, but the veteran head coach is confident the team can keep them.

I spoke to each and every one of them personally. Nobody wants to leave, but we all know it’s a business,” Arians said, via The Athletic’s Greg Auman (subscription required). “I think we’ll be very, very competitive.”

The Bucs managed to keep Barrett, Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul last March, while giving Tom Brady a two-year, $50MM fully guaranteed deal. But Tampa Bay entered the 2020 offseason with more cap space. This year, their space hovers around $30MM — depending on where the cap settles. Arians added that he does not believe Mike Evans will need to take a pay cut to help the team fit the veterans onto its 2021 payroll.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs’ Mike Evans Willing To Take Pay Cut

Mike Evans is scheduled to make $12.5MM next year. However, the Buccaneers’ star wide receiver is willing to take a little bit less if it keeps the Super Bowl-winning band together. 

[RELATED: Gronk Wants To Return]

Mike Evans is the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever met,” head coach Bruce Arians told Peter King of NBC Sports. “He’s told us to use some of his money if we need to contracts to keep the team together.”

The Buccaneers are hoping to keep tight end Rob Gronkowski and the rest of their key pending free agents. Among those eligible for the open market: wide receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, inside linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and edge rusher Shaquil Barrett.

Evans has helped the Bucs move money around in the past, including a 2019 adjustment that converted $2MM of his base salary into a signing bonus. The layout of his deal — a five-year, $82.5MM extension inked less than two years ago — allows for flexibility with no guaranteed dollars from this point forward.

Evans may seek some locked-in dollars in exchange for his cooperation. But, either way, the Bucs will probably take up Evans on his offer, especially with the possibility of a $180MM cap this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Texans, Titans, Bucs, Terrell

Bill O’Brien‘s final weeks with the Texans were trying, with the team going 0-4 and the former head coach-GM’s near-universally panned DeAndre Hopkins trade benefitting the Cardinals early. But the since-fired HC also was involved in some internal turmoil, with Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reporting O’Brien engaged in heated disputes with J.J. Watt and first-year defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver at a recent practice (Twitter link). O’Brien also verbally sparred with other staffers in his final weeks, per Wilson. That can be expected given the Texans’ start, but the Watt argument may have been a tipping point. The dispute with Watt — arguably the defining player in Texans history — resulted in O’Brien losing the team, in the view of one source (via ESPN.com’s Dianna Russini). The O’Brien-Watt argument took place days before the Texans’ loss to the Steelers.

Here is the latest from the South divisions, moving first to more Titans news:

  • At least three separate Titans offsite workouts took place last week over a multiday period, veteran NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky notes. A group that included Ryan Tannehill was spotted working out Sept. 30 at Montgomery Bell Academy, an area high school, while Kuharsky reports a different group — comprised of defensive backs — worked out at a park near Belmont University that day. Multiple workouts took place at the park near Belmont, per Kuharsky, who adds that Mike Vrabel said during an Oct. 1 Zoom call he told players not to conduct offsite workouts. The NFL is now investigating the Titans for this, and punishment for the coronavirus-stricken team could be severe. Tight end MyCole Pruitt, one of the Titans’ positive testers, was not at the offsite workouts, per Titaninsider.com’s Terry McCormick (on Twitter).
  • Prior to the Titans being barred from their headquarters, the NFL showed images of players and staffers walking around the team’s facility without masks, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Aside from players during workouts, team personnel are required to wear masks inside team facilities. Twenty-three Titans players and staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Good news for the Falcons on the virus front. First-round cornerback A.J. Terrell returned to practice this week, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets. Terrell missed Atlanta’s past two games after being placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list just before the Falcons’ Week 3 game.
  • For the sect of non-Chris Godwin fantasy managers who might have missed this (and the narrower swath of LeSean McCoy deep-league GMs), both Buccaneers will miss Thursday night’s game against the Bears. The Bucs declared Godwin and Shady out. This marks Godwin’s third missed game this season; he is battling a hamstring injury. Mike Evans, however, will play, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Evans was a game-time decision because of an ankle injury.
  • Eli Apple is set to miss more time. After successfully rehabbing one hamstring injury, the Panthers cornerback has encountered another. Matt Rhule said the recent acquisition pulled his other hamstring, per Joe Person of The Athletic (on Twitter). Apple missed Carolina’s first three games because of his initial hamstring injury. He has played just six snaps (all on special teams) this season.

WR Notes: Fitz, Evans, Sutton, Reagor, Lions

Larry Fitzgerald has taken a year-to-year approach to retirement for a while now, but the Cardinals‘ all-time great has continued to return and remain productive. However, he will not spend much time considering a return if the now-Kyler Murray-led team makes a surprise run and wins Super Bowl LV this season.

That would definitely validate me,” Fitzgerald said of a Super Bowl victory, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if that happened. Another catch, another touchdown, another yard is not going to make more whatever – my legacy is pretty much cemented. I just want to win a championship, I want to compete for a division title. Those are the things that are important to me.”

Now 37, the league’s oldest active wideout has climbed into second place on both the receptions and receiving yards lists. Needing 172 catches to pass Jerry Rice, Fitz would likely need at least two more full seasons to have a chance to move into the No. 1 spot on that list. A yardage pursuit does not seem remotely attainable. Regarding the Cards’ Super Bowl hopes, they sit 17th at plus-5000 — according to BetOnline.ag — to claim a championship this year.

As Week 1 approaches for 30 teams, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • Sunday will likely force fantasy managers to make changes, and Tom Brady may well have to adjust in his first game with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have listed Mike Evans as doubtful to face the Saints. Evans did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury, before being limited Friday. This is a familiar situation for the seventh-year wideout; Evans missed the final three games of the 2019 season with a hamstring malady.
  • Kenny Golladay is on track to miss the first game in his contract season. The Lions listed their top wideout as doubtful as well. The fourth-year standout has also encountered hamstring trouble. Detroit is not particularly deep at wideout, at least in terms of proven targets, but does have Marvin Jones back to start his contract year. The Lions also re-signed Danny Amendola this offseason.
  • The AC joint sprain Courtland Sutton suffered in practice looks likely to shelve him for the Broncos‘ Monday opener against the Titans. While the Broncos are calling their top receiver “day to day,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes the third-year standout is a long shot to play in Week 1 (video link). Sutton has not yet missed a game as a pro.
  • Not all the current wide receiver news skews negative. After fears pointed to Jalen Reagor missing multiple September games, the Eagles wide receiver was a full practice participant each day this week and appears on track to play against Washington on Sunday. The first-round pick suffered a torn shoulder labrum during training camp. His presence will certainly help a receiving corps down Alshon Jeffery for the foreseeable future.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Clowney, Bucs

Before Jadeveon Clowney signed with the Titans, the Saints attempted to orchestrate a sign-and-trade in order to land the star edge rusher — but the NFL put the kibosh on such a maneuver, as Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com write. In the proposed scenario, an unidentified team (widely believed to be the Browns) would have signed Clowney to a one-year deal with a $5MM signing bonus and a $10MM base salary.

Clowney then would have been dealt to the Saints in exchange for a second-round pick, per the NFL scribes. The mystery team would have absorbed the $5MM signing bonus on its salary cap, giving the cap-strapped Saints the breathing room they would have needed in order to acquire Clowney. But the league office gave word it wouldn’t approve a deal that amounted to trading cap space.

“We felt like we got close,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (Twitter link). “We weren’t able to match the money, and that’s one of the challenges every year. Mickey (Loomis) and Khai (Harley) did a great job working with (Clowney’s agent).” The Ravens may have also attempted a sign-and-trade strategy to land Clowney, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk indicates Baltimore tried to arrange a similar strategy involving the Jaguars. Tennessee ultimately landed Clowney on a one-year, $13MM pact that includes $2MM in incentives.

  • Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans is dealing with a hamstring injury and could be a game-time decision for Sunday’s tilt against the Saints, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Evans ended last season on injured reserve with a hamstring issue, but he hadn’t missed any time during camp, so the injury must have flared up recently. If Evans is forced to miss Week 1, Chris Godwin could see even more targets than usual, while Justin Watson and Scotty Miller would likely become more involved in Tampa Bay’s offense.
  • The Buccaneers‘ backfield split became extremely murky following the addition of Leonard Fournette, but head coach Bruce Arians says Ronald Jones is still the club’s starter, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Of course, Arians has been anything but fully truthful when it comes to running back touches over the years, but Jones should at least get the first snap of 2020. Arians said Fournette will have a “situational role” in Week 1 (Twitter link via Pewter Report), while LeSean McCoy should still be a factor on passing downs. Tampa Bay also worked out a number of running backs, including veteran Kenjon Barner, earlier this week, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.
  • Saints owner Gayle Benson has thankfully recovered after contracting COVID-19 in August, as Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk writes. The 73-year-old Benson was not forced to spend any time in the hospital while quarantined, and was still able to take part in team business.

Contract Re-Workings: Bucs, Evans, 49ers, Ford, Steelers, DeCastro, Seahawks, Moore

On this busy Saturday morning we’ve got a few contract re-workings to pass along. A few teams, all franchises hoping to compete for a championship this year, are freeing up some cap space, possibly to pursue some of the veterans left on the market:

  • Mike Evans, WR (Buccaneers): Tampa freed up $9.5MM by converting some of Evans’ salary into a signing bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The Bucs are loading up for their potential Tom Brady title run, having just signed Leonard Fournette earlier this week, and it’s possible they aren’t done yet. Evans is under contract through the 2023 season.
  • Dee Ford, DE (49ers): San Francisco also created $9.5MM in space by doing the same thing with Ford, Yates notes in the same tweet. Ford was a disappointment in his first year with the 49ers in 2019 as he battled various health issues that limited him to 11 games, and the organization reportedly shopped him before the draft. He’s signed through the 2023 season as well, although there are outs earlier. He’s also reportedly dealing with a relatively minor calf issue at the moment.
  • David DeCastro, OL (Steelers): Pittsburgh created $3.85MM with the signing bonus trick with DeCastro, Yates notes. The veteran guard has two years left on his five-year, $50MM pact.
  • David Moore, WR (Seahawks): Moore has reworked his deal to stay in Seattle, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. This one sounds like more of a pay cut in order to keep his roster spot rather than the vets above who just had salary converted to signing bonuses. Rapoport notes that Moore had been set to make $2.13MM under his RFA tender, and he presumably took less than that to make the 53. He had 17 receptions for 301 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Bucs Place Mike Evans On IR

On Wednesday, the Buccaneers officially placed wide receiver Mike Evans on injured reserve. He’ll be joined by safety Jordan Whitehead, who also left Sunday’s game against the Lions with a hamstring injury. 

Evans was held out of the Bucs’ Week 15 game against the Lions due to a hamstring injury, so the move doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The Bucs don’t have much to play for in the final two weeks of the season – besides pride – so they’ll keep Evans off the field and allow him to rest up for 2020.

Evans suffered the injury after reeling in a 61-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter against the Colts. The receiver fell to the turf in pain before limping to the sideline, but he got relatively good news after doctors got a closer look – there’s no tear in the hammy, just a pull.

The 26-year-old was in the midst of another standout season, hauling in 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Justin Watson filled in for Evans, with the former fifth-rounder snagging his first career touchdown.

To fill Evans’ spot on the roster, the Bucs promoted wide receiver Spencer Schnell from the practice squad. Watson and Schnell will get a chance to show their stuff in the final two weeks of the season as Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller deal with hamstring injuries of their own.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs WR Mike Evans Out For Season

DEC. 11: This is not surprising given the earlier reports and the fact that the Bucs are out of playoff contention, but Evans is expected to be shut down for the season, as Laine reports.

DEC. 9: The Buccaneers are dealing with injuries to some of their top offensive players, and it sounds like one of them will struggle to return this season. Coach Bruce Arians told reporters that wideout Mike Evans will miss at least a few weeks as he recovers from his hamstring injury.

“It’s not good,” Arians said (via ESPN’s Jenna Laine). “I’ll be shocked if Mike makes it back before the last week.”

Evans suffered the injury on his 61-yard touchdown in the first quarter of yesterday’s win over the Colts. The receiver initially fell to the turf in pain before limping to the sideline. Fortunately, Laine tweets that there’s no tear in the hamstring, and Evans is just dealing with a pull. The 26-year-old is having another standout season, hauling in 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Justin Watson filled in for Evans, with the former fifth-rounder snagging his first career touchdown.

Meanwhile, Jameis Winston suffered a hairline fracture of his thumb. The quarterback managed to finish the game, throwing for a career-high 456 yards and four touchdowns (to go along with one rushing touchdown… and four interceptions). Arians implied that Winston would likely sit out practice this week but probably won’t miss any games.

“They X-rayed his thumb,” Arians said. “He’s got a little-bitty fracture. Nothing serious. He was able to get his strength back to come back in.”

Ryan Griffin played a series while Winston was sidelined. The Tulane product would likely get the start if Winston misses any time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Inactives, Peterson, Evans, Jones

Adrian Peterson will not suit up vs. the Eagles today, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has made it clear that Derrius Guice will be the starter and handle most of the rushing work.

Some of Peterson’s teammates aren’t happy that he’s a healthy scratch, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The future Hall-of-Famer is regarded by some as the best back on the team and many members of the Redskins believed that come week 1, the question would be how many carries Guice would be taking away from Peterson and not whether Peterson would be suiting up.

Washington gave Peterson a $1.5MM signing bonus and another $1MM to re-sign with the club this offseason. No word if the team has plans to trade or release him.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • TE Jordan Reed is among the other inactives for the Redskins, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. QB Colt McCoy will also not suit up.
  • Mike Evans and Devin White will both play for the Buccaneers today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The pair were listed as questionable heading into the contest will illnesses.
  • CB Byron Jones won’t start for the Cowboys today, Schefter adds in a separate tweet. Jones will play, but he’ll be limited as he is still recovering from offseason hip surgery.
  • RT Marcus Gilbert will not play for the Cardinals today, as Darren Urban relays on the team’s website. Gilbert is nursing a knee injury.