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, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft 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 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 past 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.
Third-round RB Charles Sims' signing was announced after practice as well. The Bucs have agreed to terms with second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a tight end from Washington, and the team is expected to announce the signing today.
The 6-foot, 214-pound Sims is regarded as a strong receiver out of the backfield, and his versatility is expected to earn him playing time at one of the team's deepest positions. He rushed for more than 3,400 yards and scored 40 touchdowns in his college career at Houston and West Virginia.
Sims said the biggest challenge so far has been trying to memorize and comprehend the offensive system, so he has spent every night cramming with the playbook.
"I'm just trying to catch up with these guys," Sims said. "They've been at it for a while. We're just coming in, so we've got to catch up."
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.
VERY COOL: If you wanted a sure sign of the happier, more laid back Bucs of 2014, you needed only to look to the corner of the practice fields at One Buc Place on Thursday afternoon, where DT Gerald McCoy celebrated the end of minicamp by renting a Kona Ice shaved-ice truck for the team.
"How often do you get to end it with a snow cone?" said coach Lovie Smith, who gave the okay to McCoy's plan.
"That was the topping on the cake a little bit. … Great idea. I talk to the guys about getting their body fat down … for a day like today, we're not going to count calories. Guys left with a smile on their face."
McCoy said he likes to treat his teammates like family, and his wife had so craved the shaved-ice recently that she asked him to stop a truck as they were driving. He asked the driver if he could get him to come to One Buc, and the rest was history.
"It's a family here," he said. "These are my brothers, this is my family. We've been working hard since April, we're all about to go on break. I figure it's hot out here, I'll do something nice for my family."
HAPPY AT HOME: 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."