Bucs sign top pick Evans, fellow rookie Sims
TAMPA -- The dollar figure was no surprise, the signing well-anticipated, but it was still a precious moment for Mike Evans when the Bucs' first-round pick signed his rookie contract on Thursday.
"It's a big relief. I'm already a part of the team, but it feels good to have it on paper," said Evans, who was the draft's No. 7 overall pick out of Texas A&M.
Evans signed a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, as all first-round picks do under the league's new collective bargaining agreement. Multiple reports had the contract as a $14.6-million deal, fully guaranteed, with a signing bonus of $8.96-million.
"It's a blessing. I've never seen so many zeros," he said. "It's a dream come true. I was just thinking about my family, being able to help them out."
Evans, who has been limited by a hamstring injury over the last three weeks, said he'll spend time with his family and then train in Miami in preparation for the start of preseason training camp on July 25.
Sims, who played in college at Houston and West Virginia, was announced after practice as signing his rookie deal as well. That leaves second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a tight end from Washington, as the only unsigned draft picks out of the Bucs' six this season. No terms were released, but the deal is slotted for a signing bonus of $684,092, with a four-year total value of $3.09-million.
HAPPY AT HOME: Bucs coach Lovie Smith isn't used to his team holding training camp in its own facilities, as the Bucs will next month. In his nine years as Bears coach, his team trained about 50 miles south of Chicago at Olivet Nazarene University, but he said he likes the familiarity of practicing at home with the best facilities available.
"It's been a long time since I've been in a place where we've done that," Smith said. "When you have the best facility in the league, why would you want to go to ... nothing against a smaller college, but we feel like the accommodations here are pretty good. I like it here, I'm looking forward to it and it should make things a lot more easy for us."
WHOLE NEW WORLD: As much as the Bucs have learned about their new players in OTAs and minicamps, Smith reiterated that non-contact practices can only show so much, and he's eagerly awaiting full pads next month and all that comes with that.
"It's a big jump," Smith said. "It's about the physical part of the game, putting on the pads. We need to see the players, especially our linemen. I'm anxious to see some of the one-on-one battles ... the blocking up front with the offensive and defensive lines are full-speed, always."