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Buccaneers restructure Mike Evans’ contract to clear salary cap space

The move gives the team wiggle room to not only sign draft picks Devin White and Jamel Dean but also make other additions.
Mike Evans caught 86 passes for 1,524 yards and eight touchdowns last season. [CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press]
Published Jun. 18
Updated Jun. 18

The Buccaneers have restructured receiver Mike Evans’ contract to create salary cap space for the 2019 season, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Basically, a contract restructuring is an accounting trick. Tampa Bay frees up $3.2 million by converting $4 million of Evans’ $17 million base salary into a signing bonus. The Bucs can pay the bonus immediately, but not all of it will count against the cap. NFL rules state that teams have to spread signing bonus money over the life of a contract, which for Evans is five more seasons. In others words, only $800,000 of the $4 million signing bonus counts toward this season’s cap.

Before the restructuring, Tampa Bay had $4.7 million in cap space, the second-lowest amount in the NFL (Pittsburgh has about $1 million in space), according to Over The Cap. The Bucs have yet to sign first-round draft pick Devin White and third-round pick Jamel Dean. Teams usually don’t want to enter a season right against the cap; they need some clearance for injury replacements.

The restructuring doesn’t change the amount of money Evans will earn this season. That’s still $20 million. In addition to the $4 million signing bonus, he will receive a base salary of $13 million and a roster bonus of $3 million.

In March 2018, Evans signed a contract extension that could keep him in Tampa Bay through the 2023 season and pay him $82.5 million.

Evans, 25, is entering his sixth NFL season. Already, he holds the team records for catches (395), receiving yards (6,103) and touchdowns (40).

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

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