Saturday, November 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs make Mike Evans NFL’s second highest-paid receiver

TAMPA — Let's start with the obvious: Mike Evan$ got paid.

But what does the five-year, $82.5 million contract extension he agreed to with the Bucs on Friday say about the former first-round pick?

It means Evans is considered one of the elite receivers in the NFL, topped only in average salary by the $17 million per year earned by the Steelers' Antonio Brown.

His production would suggest it, too. This past year, Evans joined his idol, Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss, and the Bengals' A.J. Green as players to have at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first four seasons.

It also is a harbinger of things to come for the Bucs, who have begun to use that vault of money under the salary cap to lock up their young core of players. Evans is signed through 2023.

Next up, in no particular order, will be linebacker Kwon Alexander, left tackle Donovan Smith, center Ali Marpet and possibly tight end Cameron Brate and receiver Adam Humphries, both restricted free agents.

A year or maybe two from now, the Bucs could be announcing what promises to be the richest deal in franchise history with quarterback Jameis Winston.

If you are the Bucs, this is what you hoped for when general manager Jason Licht started picking players nearly five years ago.

There have been some wild swings and misses, but for the most part, the players taken in the early rounds of the Bucs' drafts since 2014 have been the kind you can build a foundation with. That's what Friday was really about.

As for Evans, you shouldn't worry whether making him the highest-paid player on the team will turn him into Money Mike.

Evans, 24, sort of made that clear when he posted a message on Instagram shortly after agreeing to the contract that includes $55 million guaranteed.

"I'm excited to announce I will be spending the next several seasons in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers with one goal in mind: winning a Super Bowl with my teammates," Evans said.

That may sound like it came from some slick marketing agent, but the sentiment is pure Evans, who has always walked the fine line between passion and emotion.

He let his emotions get the best of him this past season when he blindsided Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore during a sideline confrontation with Jameis Winston at New Orleans. That earned Evans a one-game suspension.

"Mike's frustration is he's about winning," said Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken. "Mike loves sports. Mike watches basketball. And you know you've got an athletic nut because of the way he is. The winning part of it is so important to him.

"Mike in one game will get fired up because he's very competitive. Mike and Jameis' passion stem from the same thing. To me, in today's day and age, they are rare in the fact that they get individual stats and they get what that means in terms of their future and their money. But they equally want to win and winning is critical to them. Where coaches are tied to winning, players are tied to their name. They're one of the group of guys that you love where it means as much to them to win."

Evans has demonstrated that time and again. Two of the Bucs' most outlandish highlights involve Evans. His one-handed catch despite taking a devastating hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal was the named the play of the year at NFL Honors two years ago. In 2016 he went high to catch a 39-yard pass from Winston after a scramble play against the Bears in 2016.

"He's a special player and person that allows you to coach him hard every day. Crazy thing is he is only scratching the surface,'' Monken said.

Evans already ranks third in club history with 4,579 receiving yards and his 32 touchdowns are second-most by a Bucs receiver.

But there's no denying that Evans is coming off his worst year since entering the NFL. It took his final catch of 2017 to give him 1,001 yards for the season, a career low. There are many factors for the drop off. By adding other weapons such as DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, Evans didn't have to lead the NFL with 173 targets the way he did in 2016.

Now it's no longer just footballs that have been thrown at him, it's dollar bills. Evans will handle it the right way. He's formed a foundation. He is determined to give back to the community. He's exactly the type of player an NFL team should want to build around.

Friday was a good day for the Bucs. They rewarded a good player. There are more to come. It could be they have a good future, too.

Comments
Why the Buccaneers can beat the Giants but still lose

Why the Buccaneers can beat the Giants but still lose

Tampa Bay is in a race, just not the one you hoped it would be in.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Giants: Predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. Tampa Bay-New York game

Bucs-Giants: Predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. Tampa Bay-New York game

Here are the Times' Bucs coverage team's predictions for Tampa Bay's 1 p.m. game Sunday at the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium:Have you seen the injury report?Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer, @NFLStroud: I think everybody needs to take a step back a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul is on a mission to make a memorable Meadowlands return

Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul is on a mission to make a memorable Meadowlands return

TAMPA — Jason Pierre-Paul often talks about how he's unstoppable, but he knows there's a business side to sports that no level of determination can control.He knows this now because not long ago he thought he'd always be a New York Giant. That ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
The end of the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter-Jameis Winston partnership

The end of the Bucs’ Dirk Koetter-Jameis Winston partnership

It's hard to imagine the head coach and the quarterback both back with the Bucs in 2019.
Published: 11/17/18
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said OC Todd Monken will call plays against Giants

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said OC Todd Monken will call plays against Giants

TAMPA — Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said Friday during his weekly radio show that offensive coordinator Todd Monken will resume offensive playcalling duties for Sunday's road game against the New York Giants.Koetter took over playcalling dutie...
Published: 11/16/18
Bucs enter Giants game with defense decimated by injury

Bucs enter Giants game with defense decimated by injury

TAMPA — The Bucs will go into Sunday's road game against the New York Giants more decimated by injury than they've been at any point this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.Three defensive starters — linebacker Lavonte D...
Published: 11/16/18
Beleaguered Bucs fans deserve a win Sunday

Beleaguered Bucs fans deserve a win Sunday

Haven't Bucs fans been through enough this season?
Published: 11/16/18
Bucs haven’t seen anyone like Saquon Barkley since Barry Sanders

Bucs haven’t seen anyone like Saquon Barkley since Barry Sanders

The Bucs picked a lousy week to potentially be without LB Lavonte David as they face Barkley, who is third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage
Published: 11/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul can’t wait to face Giants

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul can’t wait to face Giants

With the Bucs heading to East Rutherford, N.J., to play the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul is anxious to face his former team.
Published: 11/16/18
Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson expects chilly Meadowlands reception

Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson expects chilly Meadowlands reception

DeSean Jackson said Giants fans haven't forgotten his game-winning punt return in the final week of the 2010 season.
Published: 11/16/18