TAMPA — The NFL South is loaded with great receivers. But the Falcons’ Julio Jones and the Saints’ Michael Thomas get a lot more attention than the Bucs’ Mike Evans since their teams are perennial playoff contenders.
Evans is one of only three players to have at least 1,000-yards receiving in each of his first five seasons. The other two are A.J. Green and Randy Moss. But since joining the Bucs as a first-round pick in 2014, the former Texas A&M star has been part of only one winning team — when Tampa Bay went 9-7 but missed the playoffs in his second pro season.
Evans says it will be a “major disappointment” if the Bucs’ 11-year playoff drought — second only to the Browns — isn’t broken this year.
“I mean, nobody wants to lose,” Evans said. “And nobody wants to be playing at the end of the year when you don’t have a chance to make the playoffs. I want to win, even thought it’s at the end (of the season). But I want to make the playoffs. That’s everybody’s goal.
“It will be a major disappointment if we don’t make it this year, like it has been every year, but especially this year. I feel like we’re loaded on both sides of the ball and we have a really good rapport overall.
“Everybody has been playing well. Everybody has been having a really good training camp. I mean, if we don’t do it this year, it’s going to be tough to do it all the other years. I know we’re in a tough division, but we’ve got the guys to do that.”
Evans leads a group of receivers and tight ends that are among the best in the NFL. Gone are Adam Humphries, who signed as a free agent with the Titans, and DeSean Jackson, who was traded to the Eagles.
But the Bucs return receiver Chris Godwin and tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Tampa Bay also added Browns free agent Breshad Perriman and drafted Bowling Green receiver Scotty Miller.
“It’s definitely up there with the best,” Evans said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays as pass catchers. That’s good. Rank them? We’re up there. I mean we have to do it, but I think we’re right up there with last year. Some of the new guys, (Perriman), can take the top off just like DeSean did and we’ve got a lot of pretty good rookies. So we’ll have to see who makes it out of those rookies, but it’s a really good rookie class we have at the receiver position.”